Cantering along
Riding through the village
Happy ride
Having a drink
Hotel on the trail
2nd night hotel
A double room
Twin room
Lantilly Castle
A room at the castle
Lunch out on the trail

Join one of the  fastest-paced equestrian trails in Europe in the beautiful setting of the Morvan Natural Park, home to verdant scenery, great lakes and lush forests. Ride specially-trained endurance horses from Frances' first endurance stud, 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 - 50 km and the pace is very fast, based on an average of about 10 km/h. This is an exhilarating equestrian trail which includes long and frequent canters, steep downhill descents and lake crossings. The trail follows a large loop in the park and over the week, horseback riders will visit: 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. The 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 horseback riders, transporting the luggage so that they have access to personal belongings for lunch. This also means that a rider can have a half-day rest if they like, and their horse will be taken to the next stage.. This is an ideal trail for adventurous and fit horseback riders looking for a new challenge. 

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from AR of Auchleven on 29/06/2024

Ride Summary
It is very hard for me to give an accurate review of this ride as it was incredibly wet during the trail, and quite a few adjustments had to be made to suit the conditions. But the all of the staff were super accommodating and did their absolute best to give us a fantastic time.
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
The guides English was limited, but they always did their best to ensure we understood what was needed.
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
The horses were very fit, forward going and full of energy, a few seemed to be a little bit more of a handful, but over the staff did a great job at matching horses up to the riders and were great at finding any replacements if necessary.
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
It is mentioned but would definitely recommend riding shoes that are very comfortable to walk in. You can do quite a bit of walking some days.
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
8
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
While the ride was not massively difficult terrain wise (bar a few overgrown and/or flooded sections), usually following fairly well trodden paths, the pace was fast, with a lot of trotting due to the rain for us. I could easily see how the ride could be even faster under normal conditions, and riders would absolutely need to be riding fit!
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1
Guests are welcomed to the riding centre in the heart of the Morvan National Park at around 5pm. Meet the team to discuss your riding experience and horse preferences, and be briefed on the upcomming riding programme. Welcome dinner and overnight at the Domaine Saint Honoré, or Chateau de Valgone (or similar)

Day 2
After breakfast and the allocation of the horses, this first stage heads north-east, passing farmlands and the Anost forest that offers good cantering. Riders probably won't encounter any other humans until reaching the destination for the day, the small village of Moux en Morvan, situated next to a small lake where the riders can enjoy a swim. Overnight at the Hotel Beau Site (or similar) (40km riding)

Day 3
The morning ride leads past farmlands and forests on the way to the waterfall, Saut du Gouloux. Finish the morning with a long gallop on the Breuil tracks before enjoying lunch and a cool rest next to the river. The afternoon is a long ride to the village of Brassy. Overnight at the Hotel du Noord (or similar) (40km riding)

Day 4
After breakfast, it is back in the saddle for a +/- 50km ride to Vézelay - today's goal. Vézeley is a special place, and the starting point for many pilgrims travelling the Santiago de Compostela. The town has a fascinating history, and riders can discover more during a tour on day 5. Overnight in a local hotel. (50km riding)

Day 5
A quieter, but fast day! After breakfast there is a quick tour of Vézeley. Meet up with the horses and head out past Pierre Perthuis and its two bridges. Enjoy lunch at the foot of the Chateau de Bazoche, followed by a visit to the Chateau. The afternoon is spent following trails and paths to reach the Aubues Gite, a magnificent estate set in pristine nature. (32km riding)

Day 6
After breakfast, mount up and head to Lac de Panneciére, where riders can enjoy a swim (weather permitting), before heading on to Chateau Chinin, the overnight stop. Accommodation at the Hotel du Park (or similar). 

Day 7
This is a challenging stage that leads through the magical forests of Haut Folin, before setting off to Bibracte. The climb to Mont Beuvray, and its summit at 800m, is the highest point of the walk. Visit an archaeological site before setting off for the destination for the day, Saint Léger sous Beuvray, at the Hotel du Morvan. (40 km riding)

Day 8
Today is a more leisurely pace on a route that takes riders through beautiful, unspoilt countryside. The trails of the Sommant international race leads to the stables where this tour comes to an end. Say a fond farewell to the horses and spend the rest of the day either visiting the host's Arabian horse farm to see the stallions, broodmares and foals. Enjoy a last dinner at the ride centre and stay overnight at the Domaine, or the Chateau de Vareilles. (30 km riding)

Day 9
After a final breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to the hosts and fellow riders and transfer to the station by SNCF taxi.

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

Riders will use the same horse for the entire trail and the horses 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.



Rides start at around 9am each day, stop for a 2 hour lunch break, and finish between 4-5pm. The pace 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 (covering up to 50km each day.) The terrain can be challenging, with some steep descents and through water when crossing 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 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is at handpicked hotels or guesthouses within the national park (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. The group will spend one night in a 13th century castle. On the first and last day, the group is accommodated close to the equestrian centre in either a gite de France, a nearby chateau, 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 within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Passport and Visa requirements can change regularly 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 should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france

In the USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/France.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/france

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

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in France and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.


Please take along sun cream and anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites.

The emergency phone number in France is 112. If you need to contact other emergency services, call 15 (medical), 17 (police) or 18 (fire).

Electricity

In France the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

There is electricity available at each nights accommodation for charging cameras and batteries. Please note that before using a GoPro, check with the other riders if they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

- Riding hat - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384 (compulsory, available to borrow if you don't want to bring your own)
- Gloves
- Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
- Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
- Chaps
- Long sleeved shirts
- Thermals in case of cold weather
- Lightweight jumper
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Casual clothes for the evenings
- Lightweight shoes for evenings
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Hat
- Swimsuit
- Sunglasses
- Suncream
- Blister plasters
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel
- Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent
- Refillable Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
- Camera, spare Batteries/Chargers - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding


Provided by hosts
Riding hat

Programmes

9d / 8n programme with 7 riding days. Available on set dates between June and September.

Departure Dates

2024: 15-23 June (FULL); 24 August-1 September
2025:28 Jun (more dates to be released)

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20249d/8n7double pp1,605
20249d/8n7single supplement - 7 nights only309
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20249d/8n7double pp1,869
20249d/8n7single supplement - 7 nights only359
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20249d/8n7double pp2,169
20249d/8n7single supplement - 7 nights only405
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20249d/8n7double pp22,235
20249d/8n7single supplement - 7 nights only4,229
Recommended Reading

Theodore Zeldin ‘The French’,



Francoise Sagan ‘Bonjour Tristesse’,



Peter Mayle ‘A Year in Provence’ and ‘Toujours Provence’,



Louis Stevensons ‘Travels with a Donkey’ and



For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback, visit www.thelongridersguild.com. An excellent source of equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com  


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 in their willingness to share their country with the millions of visitors they receive each year. Food is very important in French culture, almost a passion. 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:
2024 Transfer included from Autun and Le Creusel train stations. Txf from Le Creusot TGV station €50 return
Flight Guide:
London to Paris from £80 pp return.
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