Cantering along
Riding through the village
Having a drink
Hotel on the trail
Hotel on the second night
A double room
Twin room
Lantilly Castle
A room at the castle
Lunch out on the trail

Join one of the fastest-paced trails in Europe in the beautiful setting of the Morvan Natural Park, home to verdant scenery, great lakes and lush forests. You'll be riding specially-trained endurance horses from Frances' first endurance stud and will be accompanied by a qualified equestrian guide who knows both the region and the horses extremely well.

The stages on horseback are often quite long at between 40 and 60 km and the pace is very fast, based on an average of about 10 km/h. This is an exhilarating trail which includes long and frequent canters, steep downhill descents and lake crossings. The trail takes you on a large loop in the park and over the week you'll be riding through: Les Settons, Dun Places or Quarré Tombs, Vézelay, Lantilly, Chateau-Chinon and Saint light under Beuvray before finally returning to the equestrian centre at Sommant.

Accommodation is provided by a variety of two-star hotels in the Morvan and you'll spend one night in a 13th century castle. Your hosts on this trail will be more than happy to help you discover the local cuisine. Regional picnic lunches are provided while on the trail and dinner is taken at the hotel each night.

An assistance vehicle follows the riders, transporting the luggage so you can have access to your personal belongings for lunch. This also means you can have a half-day rest if you like and your horse will be taken to the next stage for you. This is an ideal trail for adventurous and fit riders looking for a new challenge. A region rich in history, the verdant scenery and miles of country roads are perfectly suited for riding.

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Day 1
Arrive at the equestrian centre deep in the heart of the Morvan National Park, a protected area of woodlands, lakes and traditional farmland in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of central France. Arrive after 4pm in time for a presentation on the week ahead. Dinner and overnight on-site.

Day 2
Today, you'll be riding in the direction of "Lac des Settons" passing the picturesque village of Vignerux and continuing through the woods of Anost - an area famous for its hams. You'll stop deep inside the forest for a generous picnic before continuing the ride until you reach the shore of Lake Planchez. You'll follow the lake until reaching your lodging for the night. Dinner and overnight at the Les Grillons du Morvan hotel overlooking the lake.

Day 3
Today your horses turn into fish while you cross numerous creeks and rivers. Then they transform into mountain goats to climb the mountain of Pérouse - you'll be welcomed with a spectacular view from the top. Descending the mountain, you'll travel through a thick forest where you'll reach the stunning Waterfall of Gouloux. Following the mountain creeks and wild streams you'll continue on until you reach Dun les Places. Dinner and overnight at a cosy Auberge (guesthouse).

Day 4
Today you'll face the longest day in the saddle - almost 50km (40 miles) are to be covered. By now you'll be comfortable with your horse and will be able to enjoy fast canters and gallops along the shores of the Cure River, the wildest and most important river in the region. You'll reach the northern border of the nature park where the scenery opens up, transforming into pleasant meadows and fields. The goal for to today is Vézelay, which is located along the Jacob's Pilgrim Trail to Santiago the Compostella. It was here that the "Holy Bernard of Clairvaux " challenged his followers to the second crusade in the 12th century. Dinner and overnight at the "Relais du Morvan" in the town centre.

Day 5
In the morning you'll visit Vézelay before continuing the ride to Pierre Perthuis with its world famous two stone bridges, where you can enjoy a delicious picnic. Today is a shorter ride of 40km (25 miles) and this distance will be covered on a quick and fast 3 hour ride until we reach the Castle of Lantilly. Dinner and overnight at the Castle of Lantilly with hopefully some free time to visit Vauban's Castle Bazoches.

Day 6
This morning you'll follow the Yvonne River in the direction of Château Chinon. Around lunch time you will reach the lake where both riders and horses can all go for a refreshing swim. Finally, we reach Château Chinon, a small medieval town which can be explored with an evening stroll before or after dinner. Dinner and overnight at a local hotel.

Day 7
Today you'll ride in the direction of Bibracte, following ancient forest trails that have not changed for centuries. You'll ascend to the highest point of the riding tour - the 800 metre Beuray Mountain. Here you can rendezvous with the "Galls" by looking at one of the most important archaeological diggs in France regarding the Galls and Romans occupations. After lunch we reach our destination of the day - Saint Léger sous Beuvray. Dinner and overnight at a hotel.

Day 8
It's the final day of riding today and you’ll return to the higher mountains from the beginning of the trip. Today's ride takes you past castles and through creeks and rivers - the horses know that they are almost home so you'll finish the day with a fast pace. Farewell dinner and overnight in Sommant.

Day 9
After a final breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to your hosts and fellow riders and head back home.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

You'll be riding the same horse for the entire trail and your horse will be assigned on the first day. All the horses used on this trail are from the first stud to breed endurance horses in France. They are pure bred Arabs or part-Arabs. All the horses are forward going, responsive and safe and have been selected and trained specifically for endurance. The tack used is mainly endurance saddles although some comfortable trail saddles are also used.



Each day you'll set out around 9am, stop for a 2 hour lunch break, and finish riding between 4-5pm. The pace on this ride includes walk, trot, canter and gallop. In order to cover the most ground some of the trots and canters will be for long periods of time (you'll be covering up to 50km each day.) The terrain can be challenging, you'll be riding down some steep descents and through water when you cross streams and rivers.


Rider requirements

This is an exhilarating trail for good, fit riders only who enjoy riding at speed. You'll be spending between 5/6 hours per day in the saddle with lots of canters which can last for several kilometres - the average riding speed is 9km/hour. The trail covers rough terrain and in some places you will need to dismount and lead your horse downhill by hand for a short period of time. You need to be an accomplished rider and ideally have been been on a trail ride with similar hours in the saddle previously. Riding hats are compulsory and are available to borrow.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Each evening you'll be staying within the national park at handpicked hotels or guesthouses (all the hotels within the park have a maximum of 2 stars). They are all equipped with either double or twin rooms. Single rooms are also available if required. You'll be spending one night in a 13th century castle where the rooms are older but comfortable. On the first and last day, you'll be accomodated close to the equestrian centre in either a gite de France, or in a castle nearby, or at the two-star hotel in the local town of Autun, depending on availability.



The meals are typically French, beginning with a starter (salad, raw vegetables, deli meat for example) then a main course (meat or fish or vegetarian dish) with a vegetable or starchy type of accompaniment afterwards. There is always a cheese platter and a small dessert (flan or fruit for example). Breakfast is usually served around 8am, lunch is around 12pm or 1pm and dinner is around 8pm. Tea and coffee is provided with breakfast and tap water (which is safe to drink in France) is always available. Any other drinks are not included. You can purchase wine and other alcoholic drinks in the restaurants each evening with your dinner.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:

Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas, health and vaccinations, legal issues and emergency issues. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk.

The British Consulate in Paris is at 35 rue de Faubourg St Honore, 75383 Paris Cedex 08. Tel + (33) 1 44 51 31 00. Email: webmaster.paris@fco.gov.uk.

The French Embassy in the U.K can be found at 58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT. Telephone: (020) 7073 1000. Email: presse.londres-amba@diplomatie.fr.


Climate Summary

From April to October Burgandy is generally warm, although it can be hot during the months of July and August. However, relative humidity is often low (except during unstable thundery weather). This means that day time temperatures for the region will rise from an average of 17 in mid April to 19 in May, 22 in June and 25 in mid summer. September is similar to June, whilst the temperatures really start to drop during the second half of October. Rainfall becomes more and more sporadic and linked to thunderstorms as you move from spring to summer, and this continues into the Autumn. On average there is rain on one in every three days, but this is often for relatively short periods. Autumn is often characterised by warm sunny days.

Climate Chart

Health

No special health precautions are required for visits to France, for further details please see your local doctor. We do advise taking plenty of sunscreen!

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org.

Electricity

Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.

Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity available at each nights accomodation for charging cameras and batteries.

Packing List

- Riding hat (compulsory, available to borrow if you don't want to bring your own)
- Riding boots or walking boots with a heel
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs
- Riding gloves
- Long sleeeved shirts
- Thermals in case of cold weather
- Lightweight jumper
- Waterproof jacket annd trousers
- Casual clothes for the evenings
- Lightweight shoes for evenings
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Suncream
- Sunglasses
- Swimsuit
- Camera and memory card. Spare battery
- Water bottle
- Insect repellent
- Blister plasters
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

There will be a saddlebag located at the back of your saddle where you can store your personal belongings; toiletries, suncream that you may need while on the trail.

Programmes

This is a 9 day/8 night trail with 7 days of riding available on set dates between June and September.

Departure Dates

2019: 22 Jun; 27 Jul; 24 Aug; 21 Sept
2020: 20 Jun; 25 Jul; 29 Aug

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2019 - 8 nights8d/7n7double pp1,535
2019 - 8 nights8d/7n7single supplement345
2020 - 8 nights8d/7n7double pp1,555
2020 - 8 nights8d/7n7single supplement345
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 - 8 nights8d/7n7double pp1,679
2019 - 8 nights8d/7n7single supplement375
2020 - 8 nights8d/7n7double pp1,699
2020 - 8 nights8d/7n7single supplement375
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 - 8 nights8d/7n7double pp1,965
2019 - 8 nights8d/7n7single supplement439
2020 - 8 nights8d/7n7double pp1,989
2020 - 8 nights8d/7n7single supplement439
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 - 8 nights8d/7n7double pp18,279
2019 - 8 nights8d/7n7single supplement4,079
2020 - 8 nights8d/7n7double pp18,495
2020 - 8 nights8d/7n7single supplement4,079
Wildlife

The Morvan National Park is a fantastic place to spot some wildlife. While on the ride keep your eyes peeled for a sighting of one of Frances' largest birds of prey: buzzards, hawks, falcons, harriers, kites, even the serpent eagle and osprey can be seen circling high. Rare birds such as hops, red partridge, kingfisher, dipper, crossbill, flycatcher, hawfinch and ortolan can be observed alongside more common species of buntings, all kinds of swallows, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatch, wren, common redstart, finches, goldfinches and of course culture birds as thrushes, sparrows, magpies, crows and jays are also frequent. Big game such as deer, wild boars, foxes and badgers are very commonly observed. So are smaller species such as rabbits and hares, polecats, martens and weasels. Squirrels, muskrat, different types of mice, and the lesser known dormouse (a combination of a mouse and a squirrel) are anything but rare. At dusk the bats are massively active.

Other Country Information

The French wrote the book on la vie en rose and gave the world champagne and camembert, de Beauvoir and Debussy, the Tour de France and the Eiffel Tower. It is a country steeped in history. Staggering monasteries and castles dotted all over the country are a reminder of a turbulent and often violent past, especially in the Carcasonne region where the Gnostic Christian organisation the Cathars held fast against a crusade launched in the 11th century by an angry and vengeful Catholic church for over twenty years. Despite their vow of non-violence they had a strong support base, including the Knights Templar, and their name often pops up in the legend of the Holy Grail.

The French character has undoubtedly been influenced by their past, today they are a proud and patriotic people famed for enjoying the finer things in life and displaying a great generosity character in their willingness to share their country with the millions of visitors they receive each year.

Food is very important in French culture, almost puritanical. Families eat dinner together late in the evening and their diet is usually very healthy, packed with home grown fruit and vegetables. You will hardly ever see anyone eating on the street; if you do chances are they're not French!

France is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. The international dialling code for France is +33.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
The equestrian centre in the Morvan National Park. Transfer available from Le Creusot TGV station (1h20m from Paris).
Transfer:
2019: €100 from/to Le Creusot TGV station (60 km) per car (max 4 people). Transfer is payable on-site. Complimentary transfer from/to Autun station.
Flight Guide:
London to Paris from £85 return.
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