Riding by the lake
Crossing a river on horseback in Morvan, France
Riding through the forests in Morvan, France
Opne views over Movan National Park from horseback

This unguided equestrian program exploring the trails of the Morvan National Park is ideal for intermediate horseback riders with a sense of adventure. The formula is simple - All horseback riders are given a lesson in reading a 1/25000 map and compass, and are given a comfortable room each night in either a Gite or the equestrian center. The riders then plan the daily route, decide the pace, and the hours in the saddle.The group have the choice of making their own meals, or we can supply them. There are fixed 7-day departures in the summer season, but additional out-of-season dates are available on request. Horseback riders can also bring their own horses with them if they would like!

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Each rider is given a lesson in reading a 1:25000 map and using a compass. There is also an app so riders won't get lost in the Morvan! Guests can travel in pairs or small groups while exploring the Park at their own pace and on their own route.
The host team is on call if riders feel out of their depth, or need some help and information.
There is a hotel and meal upgrade to replace the 3 gite evenings, depending on availability.
Example:
Day 1
Arrive on Sunday at the train station for the transfer to the riding centre. Check in and meet the team. Discuss the ride with the team over dinner.

Day 2
Try out the horses under supervision. When happy, there is a talk about autonomous riding, safety factors, and what to take into consideration when planning the day. There is also a lesson in orientation and how to read a 1:25000 map and use a compass. After lunch, riders head out on a 20km loop trail in small groups, to make sure they are comfortable with their horses and skills. Dinner and overnight at the riding centre.

Day 3
Ride out today, picking trails around various scenic points in the park, following trails and paths through ancient forest and rolling landscapes. Return to the stables for accommodation and dinner. 

Day 4- 6
Start out on a the trail section of the ride, chosing your pace and route to the gite/hotel stops. When arriving at the overnight stops there will be one of the host team present to help riders with their horses. Catering is provided by the hosts for the riders to prepare.

Day 7
After a presentation on endurance riding or PTV (Parcours en Terrain Varie of TREC), followed by grooming and tack cleaning, say a fond farewell to horses and the ground team before getting the transfer to the station. The last day finishes on Saturday morning, but riders wishing to stay an extra night can do so by arrangement.

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

All the horses used on this trail are pure-bred Arabs or part-Arabs. They 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. Riders can set the pace, but need to take care of their horses along the trail, no mad galloping!

The ground team are available and able to react to riders needs and questions.

2024: weight limit is 95kg, but heavier riders up to 110kg can book with prior arrangement dependent on height, fitness level and ability. 


Rider requirements

This ride is suitable for experienced intermediate riders onwards. You must want, and be able to take care of your horse and be comfortable at all three gaits in varied terrain. Riders must provide a doctor's certificate of good health and have First Aid knowledge.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The first and last night's accommodation is at the equestrian centre in twin rooms. Three nights are spent in basic, but comfortable, gites. Some have double bedrooms, some have 2/3 beds per room. A single room is only available for 3 nights.

There is a hotel and meal upgrade available for the 3 gite nights.

The team provide meals for the riders to prepare themselves.

Meals: Basic breakfasts, picnic lunches and a 3 course dinner in the evenings. Vegetarian meals can be adapted but not allergy or specialised diets.


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).

Health (ride specific)

Must be physically fit and in shape.

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 no wifi, but there is decent network and signal coverage. Please note that before using a GoPro, check with the other riders if they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

- Riding helmet - 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
- 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)
- Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
- 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
- Swimsuit
- Sunglasses
- Sun cream
- 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

7d / 6n programme with 6 riding days. Itinerary with Sunday departure between 1 July - 30 September. Out of season departure dates by arrangement.

Departure Dates

2024: Sunday departures between 23 June - 8 Sep (Summer season)(closed 7-14 Jul; 11-18 Aug)
Other dates available on request out of summer season for groups of 3+
2025: 22 Jun; 6, 13, 20 Jul; 3, 17, 31 Aug.

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.

Single room is only available for 3 nights at Sommant.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20247d/6n6double pp965
20247d/6n6Single supplement staying at the stables (3 nights) 149
20247d/6n6Hotel upgrade on 3 Gite nights pp (min 2 pax)379
20247d/6n6Extra night accommodation 87
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20247d/6n6double pp1,129
20247d/6n6Single supplement staying at the stables (3 nights) 169
20247d/6n6Hotel upgrade on 3 Gite nights pp (min 2 pax)445
20247d/6n6Extra night accommodation 105
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20247d/6n6double pp1,309
20247d/6n6Single supplement staying at the stables (3 nights) 199
20247d/6n6Hotel upgrade on 3 Gite nights pp (min 2 pax)515
20247d/6n6Extra night accommodation 119
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20247d/6n6double pp13,399
20247d/6n6Single supplement staying at the stables (3 nights) 2,035
20247d/6n6Hotel upgrade on 3 Gite nights pp (min 2 pax)5,269
20247d/6n6Extra night accommodation 1,205
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 Park is home to a rich variety of plant and animal species. The woodlands are mainly oak, beech, and pine trees, while the lakes and rivers support a diverse aquatic ecosystem. Wildlife such as deer, wild boar, otters, bats and various bird species can be found in the park.

Other Information

All riders should be knowledgeable in First Aid.

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:
2024: Transfer included from Autun and Le Creusel train stations.
Txf from Le Creusot TGV station €50 return
Flight Guide:
2024: London - Paris return pp £85.00
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