France is ideally suited for a horseback riding vacation. It was here that the idea of equestrian travel was reborn and is most highly developed. Ride leaders in France must take long courses and pass exams on leading riding tours and horsemanship. The countryside in many parts of France is unspoiled and beautiful with many rights-of-way kept open which makes riding through it on horseback a real pleasure. Riding trails in France usually avoid paved roads. Spectacular castles, walled towns and ancient monasteries are everywhere. It is a thrill to ride into a castle courtyard on horseback like a traveler of old.
Each region has a unique character with its own history, cuisine, wine, architecture and topography. French food and wine are justly famous and you will have every opportunity to savor them with an appetite made keener by an active day of horseback riding. Accommodations vary from small village hotels to châteaux, but are generally picturesque and comfortable. Some of our French riding vacations use Western saddles which is not so surprising since southern France borders Spain where our own Western riding traditions originated. France is still the most popular country in the world for vacations.
Vineyards and Beaches of Bordeaux
Spend a spectacular week riding on the beach in France and enjoying the offerings of top-notch vineyards. The Gironde region, and its major port – Bordeaux, have a rich and varied cultural heritage, most famously known for its prestigious wine-producing chateaux and some of the world’s best Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Begin the week riding from the 12th century medieval village of St-Emilion, with an architectural legacy almost without equal, crossing the Gironde estuary by boat, and continuing on through the Médoc vineyards and its most famous chateaux; Margaux, Latour, Pichon-Baron and Lafite Rothschild among others. Canter through miles of pine forests before ending on the sandy beaches of the Atlantic. Join us for a week of riding, wine tasting and gastronomic meals at three and four star chateaux and hotels.
Castles and Caves in Malbec
The ride traverses a region of spectacular scenery considered by National Geographic to be one of the world’s last unspoiled and undiscovered earthly paradises. Begin in the fertile vineyards of Cahors with its famous Malbec grape, situated along the Lot valley. From here you ride into the more wild and wooded upper lands of Quercy plateau. Then climb higher up into the cliffs, above the Lot River with breathtaking views of the surrounding country and below. Visit St. Cirq Lapopie, considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of France, as well as the superb prehistoric caves of Pech-Merle decorated with 14,000 year old Magdalenian paintings. Follow the picturesque Célé valley, stopping at the village of Saulliac Cabreret with their troglodyte houses and chateaux nestled against the towering cliffs.
Fortresses and Forests of the Dordogne
The Dordogne is a wonderful region in which to go riding in southwest France, known for its history, charming small villages, bastides, caves and regional foods. The beauty of its picturesque landscape of overhanging cliffs, cultivated plains and rivers, of the dense and mysterious forests, verdant farmland and pastures, make the area an unforgettable and little-known destination for travelers. You will ride good horses through this beautiful and varied region with the opportunity to see many of the sites while taking the path less traveled. Enjoy not only the history and people of the region, but its unique and beautiful accommodations, and in particular – the food. Magret, confit, cheese, warm fresh breads, wine, foie gras, fresh fruits and vegetables are just some of the area’s specialties to savour and enjoy throughout the week.