cantering along beside a stormy Atlantic Ocean
Swimming in the lake on the Atlantic Coast
3 friends riding on the beach in France
having fun in the surf on the Atlantic Coast
many sea brids accompany us on our beach rides
Getting ready to swim with the horses
fast gallop on the Atlantic Coast beaches
Canter on the beach at sunset
Incredible colours on the beach on a sunny day
Riding through a porticullus into a fortified village
more rural French villages
Walking the last few meters home
beautiful view of riding past a fortified town in Aquitane
group in front of iconic scenery in Aquitane
incredible scenery on a riding holiday in Aquitane
Medieval towers en route
tower of a fortified village
Lunch is served - a leisurely and delicious affair
Diner in the garden of our overnight accommodation in Aquitane
overnight accommodation on portion in Perigord/Aquitane

Combine the culture and history of Aquitane and the wild beaches of the Atlantic Coast, great riding with a cultural emphasis. The first 4 nights are spent in Aquitane and the last 3 on the Atlantic Coast.

In 1152, the marriage of Eleanor and Henry of Plantagenet lead the Aquitaine region into a long conflict know as the 100 year war. Numerous walled towns and castles were built during this period in order to respond to different strategic, political and economic requirements.

This trail is steeped in the history of the Aquitaine region and passes through walled towns and fortified castles. You will ride through beautiful valleys, leading you into the magnificent forest which was a refuge for the local people during the 100 year war. The final few days of the trail are spent back in the Mimizan area allowing some fantastic beach riding. 
                                                                                                                  
During the first 4 nights you return to the same Manor house/Gite each night where you will enjoy delicious food influenced by the neighbouring Perigord and taste some popular French wines. The last 3 nights on the coast gives the opportunity to enjoy the speed and strength of the horses on the beach and to swim and relax, an ideal combination. The accommodation and organisation are not the best on the coast, the location and riding is top class and is what people come here for. Be prepared to compromise on other things.

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Day 1 
Arrival day.
Transfer from Bordeaux Airport to Bonaguil and arrival at the beautiful manor house. You will then have an introduction to the horses before enjoying a relaxing evening beside the swimming pool. Dinner at the restaurant (not included).

Day 2
This first day begins at 9am with discovery of the Cahors Vineyards and the Lot Valley. Today you will really get to know your horse and before lunch enjoy a fabulous 4km gallop to blow out the cobwebs! Today lunch is al fresco lunch and is taken on the estate of Caze. We’ll then pass the circular fortified village of Moncabrier on the road to Bonaguil Castle, a great work of military architecture and the last of the great fortified castles in France. This amazing castle has never been besieged and is in a perfect state of preservation.

Day 3
Today you will explore the region further, discovering more of the typical architecture of the time. Again and again we see this charming style in the hamlets dotted around the forest of Perigord. Lunch will be taken at the foot of the Castle of Sauveterre. Today you will enjoy lots of exhilarating canters and beautiful scenery but also find time to relax at the end of the afternoon beside the swimming pool in the “ Hameau du Peyrié “ or your Gite de Charme. 

Day 4 
A long day today!
An early start is necessary for today's 65 km ride. On this day's trail you will be passing by many historic places including the fortified Bastide of St front sur Lémance and Lacapelle Biron. You guides will also take you to visit the fine and noble Castle of Biron where you will stop for a lunch break. This afternoon you can expect a long and exciting ride at all paces passing by St Avit, the picturesque village of the Proud Castle of Gavaudun, then the deep chestnut tree forest of Cuzorn with some interesting view points on the Lot valley, before riding back to Bonaguil, and your manor house base.

Day 5 
Today, after a delicious brunch, you are transferred back to Mimizan (where the riding centre is based) and enjoy a wonderful evening ride on the stunning beach there. You will then have dinner in a restaurant with view on the beach.

Days 6 & 7
This is a two day trail through the Landes region, heading from Mimizan to Contis and then returning back again. You will have another long 65km full day ride on the sandy terrain of the largest forest of Europe, with some incredible views of what is arguably the most beautiful beach in all of France. It’s also time to enjoy an exciting gallop on the white sand of the Aquitaine Coast. Horses and guests love this very much.
One more relaxing day ride spending lunch time on the pretty shores of the Aureilhan Lake and our happy trail comes to an end in the evening with sunset on the beach. Last Dinner: Seafood Party!

Day 8
Departure day.

Transfers

A transfer is arranged from Bordeaux Airport at 14.00 to Bonaguil. The ride finishes on Saturday nights, at around 8pm, with sunset on the beach. Guests are transferred back to Bordeaux the next morning and will arrive at Bordeaux Airport or Railway Station according to their departure but before 13.00, travel time approx. 1 hour 30. 


Reading List
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.

The French - Theodore Zeldin
Bonjour Tristesse - Francoise Sagan
A Year in Provence’ and ‘Toujours Provence - Peter Mayle
Travels with a Donkey Louis Stevensons
A Little Town In France - Henry James

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

There are 20 horses and 10 ponies available. The horses are mostly Anglo-Arabs and are fit and responsive. Many come from the family stud farm and their well being is very important to the owners. During the trip you are expected to take care of your own horse. Riding is usually 6 or 7 hours per day over 30 - 40 km. The terrain is varied and sometimes challenging so riders may be asked to walk by the horses at some points. The horses are surefooted and well able to manage this. Every opportunity to ride at faster paces is taken.

Rider requirements

Confident, fit riders from intermediate standards onwards. Confident at all paces and able to ride 6 to 7 hours each day over varied and sometimes challenging terrain. Walking on foot may be required over some of the challenging terrain. The minimum age for this ride is 18 years.

A smile and a good sence of humour is required!

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

During the 3 day historical trek, accommodation is in the same 3 star Gite where you will enjoy delicious food influenced by the neighbouring Perigord. Once you have transferred to Mimizan, you will stay in the Guest House at the riding center. Lunches are picnics and are relaxed and leisurely, often followed by a short siesta. Lunch and dinner are made from typical food from Pays Basque and are prepared by the owners of the accommodation. Please note that during busy periods rooms may host up to 5 people. Local hotels may be arranged for a supplement if you wish to have a private room - please enquire.

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

Climate Summary

This area has a more continental climate, which bears some resemblance to that found in west Germany and Switzerland. The high mountain areas have their own distinctive climates with heavier precipitation, much of it snow in winter. Only along the Mediterranean coast and in the adjacent mountain regions is summer generally settles, sunny and warm. Everywhere else in France the weather can be changeable at all times of the year.

Climate Chart

Health (ride specific)

There are no particular health issues associated with this type of ride.

Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity to charge batteries in the hotels and gites, however we recommend that all necessary equipment is bought with you or purchased upon arrival in France. You should check with your network provider for mobile phone coverage while in France

Packing List

We have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may very according to your programme and preferences.

• Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384. Helmets are available at the stables if you do not have your own
• 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)
• Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
• T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
• Sunhat
• Sunglasses
• Fleece - for cooler weather
• Warm layers - at times the evening temperature drops significantly
• Casual Clothes - for when out of the saddle
• Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
• Raincoat - it is always a good idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket!
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent and plenty of sun cream
• Camera and Spare Batteries/Charger - 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
• A copy of your passport


Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates.

Departure Dates

2017: 2, 23, 30 Apr; 28 May; 24 Sept; 01, 15 Oct
2018: 22 Apr; 13*, 27* May; 10* Jun; 23*, 30* Sept; 14 Oct (*denotes high season).

Pricing

Due to the nature of the accommodation, single rooms are not usually available, however it is sometimes possible to arrange. Supplements will apply - please enquire.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20178d/7n6double pp1,259
20178d/7n6single supplement129
20178d/7n6Supplement for group of 3179
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,305
2018 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement159
2018 Low Season8d/7n6supplement for group of 3179
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,339
2018 High Season8d/7n6single supplement159
2018 High Season8d/7n6supplement for group of 3179
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20178d/7n6double pp1,399
20178d/7n6single supplement139
20178d/7n6Supplement for group of 3199
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,449
2018 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement175
2018 Low Season8d/7n6supplement for group of 3199
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,489
2018 High Season8d/7n6single supplement175
2018 High Season8d/7n6supplement for group of 3199
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20178d/7n6double pp1,709
20178d/7n6single supplement169
20178d/7n6Supplement for group of 3245
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp1,769
2018 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement215
2018 Low Season8d/7n6supplement for group of 3245
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,819
2018 High Season8d/7n6single supplement215
2018 High Season8d/7n6supplement for group of 3245
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20178d/7n6double pp13,595
20178d/7n6single supplement1,359
20178d/7n6Supplement for group of 31,945
2018 Low Season8d/7n6double pp14,085
2018 Low Season8d/7n6single supplement1,699
2018 Low Season8d/7n6supplement for group of 31,945
2018 High Season8d/7n6double pp14,469
2018 High Season8d/7n6single supplement1,699
2018 High Season8d/7n6supplement for group of 31,945
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):
Bordeaux Airport at 14:00 or Morcenx train station
Transfer:
2017: Included for flights arriving before 14.00 on Day 1. Transfer back to Bordeaux according to departure time but before 13.00.
2018: Payable on site, €45 each way from Bordeaux Airport at 14:00 on Day 1, return to airport approx. 11:30. Please book flights landing before 13:30 and departing after 13:00.
Flight Guide:
Fly to Bordeaux
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