Loire Castles riding holiday in France - Far and Ride
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Loire Castles, France





Horses



Type of horses:

Anglo-Arab, French saddle horses and French horses.

Nature of horses:

Robust, good-natured, calm and confident.

Height of horses:

15 - 16.3hh

Weight limit:

100kg / 220lbs

Tack type:

English saddles. Some horses are ridden bitless in hackamores whilst others have traditional bitted bridles.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

These rides are an opportunity to visit the majestic Châteaux of the Loire Valley and incorporate several of the most important Renaissance castles. These impressive structures are part of the region's rich architectural heritage and act as a reminder of the area's popularity with French royalty and the bourgeoisie in days gone by. During one of the trails you will visit Chaumont sur Loire (15th century), heritage of Diane de Poitiers, Amboise (15th century) which was once the residence of several French kings, Chenonceau (known as the "Castle of the Ladies"), Cheverny (17th century) which has been owned by the same family for seven centuries and Chambord, the largest of all the castles built by François I. There is also an option to visit the castle of Blois which was built in the Middle Ages by the local counts. They were powerful feudal lords and it's an exceptional site, well worth a visit.

On other trails you visit Villandry, Fontevraud and Chenin. And on the Saumur Trail, there is a visit to the world renowned Cadre Noir (French National Riding School).

Your guide on these rides will be David Delbourg, a seasoned French trail guide. David has been leading horseback tours in France for over 15 years, as well as in a wide range of other destinations such as in Argentina, Canada and Morocco. He also trains apprentices for the challenging Equestrian Tourism qualification in France. He is always accompanied by a second guide who will usually ride at the back of the group.

In order to see these magnificent buildings you will meet at towns to the south of Paris which are easily accessible by train (or car if you prefer to self-drive). In addition to the castle sites you will have the pleasure of tasty picnics and of course some great riding experiences, whether its galloping along beautiful trails or following along a winding riverbank. These are wonderful trips for riders with an interest in history and architecture.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

You will stay at various hotels, B&Bs or authentic medieval castles during these trails. Price is based around sharing a double or twin room, though single rooms are available for a supplement. Nearly always there are bathrooms joined onto the bedrooms.

Full board is included. Dinners are in a traditional style and wine and coffee is included. Picnic lunches tend to be country meals involving meats and various mixed salads (including appetisers and wine).

Appetisers and extra drinks are not included with dinners.

 

Activities

During the rides you will enjoy cultural visits and there are many castles or ancient villages to explore.

 

Further Details

Languages: French and English.

Health requirements: None specific.

Age limit: None specific. Older children can be accommodated if they are competent, experienced riders, travelling with their parents and capable of riding a large horse (there are no ponies available).

Tuition: No.

Included: Accommodation, meals, drinks with meals, train station transfers and horse riding.

Not included: Flights and travel, travel insurance, transfers outside of the normal times, extra drinks, snacks or services.

 

Travel Information

We recommend that riders fly into Paris and then take a train to the nearest station, a journey that can be as short as 2 hours, depending on time of departure. Depending on the trail chosen you will arrive into either Montrichard station or Chenonceaux station. There is a late afternoon transfer from the station on arrival day and then a transfer back there on departure day too.

If you can't find a good flight to Paris then Bordeaux would be a suitable alternative.

Airport: Paris Charles de Gaulle

Alternative Airport: Paris Orly

 

Programmes


Loire Castle Trail



A seven night trail ride starting and ending in Montrichard. You will journey across the Loire Valley and its majestic renaissance castles, mild climate and fertile growing lands, staying at different characteristic accommodations each night. A great trail ride for lovers of French history, culture and architecture! 

Day 1: Arrival at Montrichard train station in time for a late afternoon transfer to the hotel Chateau de Vallagon, or a similar hotel in Montrichard. Those arriving by car are welcome to arrive in Montrichard earlier in the afternoon and can spend some time resting or exploring the town.

Dinner and overnight at Chateau de Vallagon in Bourré (or similar hotel in Montrichard).

Day 2: Following breakfast, it will be time for a short briefing and an introduction to the horses. The morning will see you riding toward the village of Fougères-sur-Bièvre where a tasty lunch awaits you at the foot of the villages fortified castle. The structure was built in the late 15th century - there will be some free time after lunch to take a look around. In the afternoon you will head toward the beautifully furnished chateau of Cheverny - which will also welcome you to visit within its walls. This castle was built from 1604 to 1634 and features a façade in the style of Henry IV and Louis XIII. Inside you will discover that there is some truly sumptuous décor. The castle has been owned by the same family for seven centuries.

Dinner and overnight will be at the gite l'Elevage de L'ebat in Cour-Cheverny (or similar).

Day 3: In the morning you will begin your ride aiming for Chambord castle and its surrounding forests. This is the largest of all the Loire castles and its enormous dimensions were inspiration for the palace of Versailles. After a picnic lunch in the castle grounds (which span some 5440 hectares) there will be a chance to take a tour within the castle itself. Upon re-mounting your horses, you will continue your journey through the Loire by visiting the chateau at Villesavin (dating back to the 16th century). The castle has been preserved with near perfect integrity through the centuries it has been standing. It'll be possible to make a visit here too.

Dinner and overnight back at l'Elevage de L'Ebat (or similar).

Day 4: Today you will enjoy a pleasant morning ride through the expansive forest and former hunting reserve of François I of Chambord. Beauregard castle is famed for it's enormous private gallery of some 327 portrait paintings depicting a selection of noblemen and characters of state from the French courts (amongst many others). Following your picnic in the grounds there will be a chance to view some of these private collections whilst enjoying a tour of Beauregard. In the afternoon you will ride through the fields towards the riverbanks of the Loire, and on to Candé-sur-Beuvron. 

Dinner and overnight in Hotel La Caillère in Candé-sur-Beuvron.

Day 5: Today you will enjoy a leisurely morning ride along the banks of the Loire river, heading towards the village of Chaumont-sur-Loire. This charming place has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status and is well known for its feudal fortress, constructed in the late 15th century, which overlooks the village and the whole valley below. Following a picnic lunch close to the castle, there will then be time for a visit in the afternoon. The castle was the subject of an argument between Queen Catherine de Médicis and her rival Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Henri II. A feature not to be missed are the grand stables, built in the 19th century and considered at the time to be the most luxurious in all of Europe. In the afternoon you will enjoy a short ride across the Sudais forest in order to reach your overnight stop.

Dinner and overnight at L'Hostellerie du Château in Chaumont-sur-Loire.

Day 6: The ride today takes you further along the Loire river and past one of its many small beaches. You will then turn up the hill, through vineyards and over fields of cereal crop. Eventually you will reach Amboise where you will eat today's picnic and can visit the castle. The 15th century was a time of great wealth for Amboise with the kings Louis XI, Charles VIII and François I all adding to the embellishment of the castle and it's surrounding village. 

Dinner and overnight at hotel le Pigeonnier in Saint Martin le Beau.

Day 7: After breakfast you will head out through the Amboise forest, riding towards the magnificent Chenonceau chateau. Built at the beginning of the 16th century by Catherine Briçonnet, on the banks of the Cher river, the chateau is known as the "Chateau des Dames" (Castle of the Ladies). The castle has been famously held and refurbished by many great French female personalities including Diane de Poitier (mistress of King Henri II), Catherine de Médicis (Queen and widow of Henri II), Louise de Lorraine, Madame Dupin and Madame Pelouze. After a delicious picnic in the grounds, you will have a chance to visit this "Jewel of the Loire" before returning to the saddle ready for a ride through rolling landscapes dotted with the renowned vineyards of the Touraine appellation. 

Dinner and overnight at Vallagon Castle in Bourré (or similar hotel in Montrichard).

Day 8: After breakfast you will be transferred to the train station to make your way home. 

* Please note that this is an example itinerary and riding days may be adjusted to accommodate changes in weather, security, technical criteria and other unforeseeable circumstances, at your guides discretion.



Minimum group size: 5
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: Intermediate and above, capable of riding at all paces.
Type of ride: Trail.
Total riding time: 6 days as per itinerary.
Departure dates: 2017: 1-8 April, 8-15 April, 10-17 June (FULL), 16-23 July *NEW*, 29 July - 5 August (FULL), 5-12 August (FULL).
 
Pricing: 2017: Price per person, based on shared accommodation: £1382

Single supplement £29 per night.

Please note that prices do not include drinks in hotels and restaurants or entrance fees.



Cher Valley to Saumur



This trail ride takes you on a journey through the land of Renaissance with its castles and gardens. Discover the gardens at Villandry, admire the Azay-le-Rideau castle and marvel at the Fontevraud Abbey with its medieval architecture. Even more impressive is the royal fortress of Chinon which overlooks the city. Stroll through Montsoreau and sample wines from the area with delicious goat cheeses from Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine. Finally, in Saumur, discover the French National Riding School - the Cadre Noir - and watch their demonstration of classical riding. A great highlight of this ride!

Day One:

You will be collected from Chenonceaux train station and transferred to your B&B in the late afternoon. If you have your own transport then you are also welcomed at the B&B in the late afternoon.

Day Two:

After breakfast you are introduced to your horse and set off riding towards Montpoupon castle where you will stop for a picnic lunch. There is time to visit this fortress from the Middle Ages and its hunting museum which is testimony to its future owners way of life. Continue riding to Reignac-sur-Indre where the horses overnight. You are transferred a short distance to your accommodation in Truyes.

Dinner and overnight at Le Manoir de Chaix in Truyes.

Day Three:

Leave Reignac-sur-Indre and ride across the valley of the Indre river to reach your picnic spot in Cormery. This city has a famous abbey which was founded by Ithier, the abbot of Saint-Martin de Tours - and you visit the abbey after lunch. Continue riding through villages and typical landscapes of the area until arriving in Truyes, where you spend the night in the same B&B as last night.

Day Four:

This morning both horses and riders are transferred to Villandry, where the morning is set aside to visit the castle. Villandry Castle was completed in 1536 and was one of the last castles built during the Renassaince within the Loire valley. The previous owners have restored the gardens to their original glory and they are definitely worth visiting. After a picnic lunch you leave Villandry and ride across forests and vineyards to Azay-le-Rideau. This castle was built on an island in the middle of the Indre river during the reign of Francois 1st (between 1518 and 1528) and has a remarkably unique style.

Dinner and overnight at Hotel des Chateaux in Azay-le-Rideau.

Day Five:

Depart Azay-le-Rideau on horseback and ride into the middle of the Natural Park of Loire-Anjou-Touraine where you stop for a picnic in St-Benoit-La-Foret. After lunch, continue riding towards the city of Chinon which is overlooked by its medieval castle and has a beautifully preserved historical centre.

Dinner and overnight at Hotel Le Plantagenet in Chinon.

Day Six:

This morning is a highlight for many as you have the chance to visit the Cadre Noir in Saumur. The Cadre Noir is the French National Riding School where masters teach and perform classical displays of horsemanship.

In the afternoon you ride from Touraine, which is the starting point for the Saint Jacob of Compostella pilgrimage and has many impressive religious buildings, and ride along the Vienne, stopping to visit the Fontevraud Royal Abbey along the way. From the 12th to 18th Century, 36 prioresses looked after this fabulous monument where many Plantagenet funeral tombs are housed.

Dinner and overnight at La Croix Blanche in Fontevraud-L'Abbaye.

Day Seven:

After breakfast you ride to Montsoreau which is labelled the most beautiful village in France and is a UNESCO world heritage site. You can explore the castle, wines, mills, caves or even their mushroom farm! Continue riding to Turquant, a village with colourful alleys which is typical of the Saumur coast and experience a wine tasting.

Return to La Croix Blanche in Fontevraud-L'Abbaye for dinner and to overnight.

Day Eight:

You will be transferred to Saumur train station after breakfast.

NB. Please note that the itinerary is a guide and changes may need to be made depending on weather, security, availability etc but always with your best interests at heart.



Accommodation: You stay in a mixture of hotels and B&B's as follows:

Night 1: Le Prieure de la Chaise is a manor house of the 15th century which has five guesthouses for B&B.
Nights 2 and 3: Le Manoir de Chaix is a B&B within a manor house from the 16th century which is situated within a wood.
Night 4: Hotel des Chateaux has 27 rooms and a great view of the valley of Chinon.
Night 5: Hotel le Plantagenet is a beautiful house from the 19th century.
Nights 6 and 7: Hostellerie La Crois Blanche is in the heart of the Loire valley and contains two restaurants as well as a swimming pool.
Minimum group size: 5
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: You need to be a capable rider who is comfortable in all paces riding outdoors and you should be riding regularly.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 8 days / 7 nights / 5 days riding (c. 5 hours riding per day)
Departure dates: 2017: 17-24 June (including performance by the riders of the Cadre Noir).
 
Pricing: 2017:

Price per person, based on shared accommodation: £1382

Single supplement £259.

Please note that prices do not include drinks in hotels and restaurants or entrance fees.



The Berry and Southern Touraine Trail



This trail through the southern Loire Valley allows you to discover secluded castles and romanesque churches dotted through a rolling, woodland landscape. The Indrois and Cher river valleys are genuinely beautiful with many historical sights, such as the city of Loche built on a rocky butte and Valencay castle with its majestic Renaissance glamour. This area also offers specialities such as Selles sur Cher and Valencay cheeses which can be enjoyed with local Touraine or Valencay wines.

Day One:

You will be collected from Montrichard SNCF train station and

transferred to your hotel in the late afternoon. If you have your own

transport then you are also welcomed at the hotel in the late

afternoon.

Day Two:

After breakfast you are introduced to your horse and set off riding at c. 10am. Ride through the troglodyte village of Bourre before reaching the Cher Valley where you head southwards, close to the Aigues Vives Abbey. Ride through forests, meadows and across brooks to reach a beautiful site - the Montpoupon castle and it's buildings. Stop here to a picnic and visit the castle after lunch. In the afternoon, continue riding south onto plateau land where there are plenty of good cantering tracks towards the village of Genille where you spend the night.

Day Three:

Leave Gemille on horseback and ride across the Loches national forest. This former royal forest comprises 4,000 acres and contains many varieties of trees. Ride through the forest until reaching the medieval city of Loches and stop for a picnic lunch. Then step back in time to discover this beautiful walled city, visiting the Keep and Royal Apartments. Continue riding through the forest until reaching your night stop at Chartreuse du Liget where you overnight in a B&B.

Day Four:

Set off riding to the Indrois valley, passing the Chemille sur Indrois lake. Ride alongside the river along a shady path until reaching the village of Montresor which is a jewel on the banks of the Idrois. One of France's most beautiful villages, it sits beneath its castle and contains troglodyte dwellings. Visit the village and castle before your picnic lunch. The afternoon ride is a long one through busy agricultural land to the village of Lucay le Male where you overnight.

Day Five:

Set off riding into the Bery landscape as you approach Valencay castle. You will spot it from a distance away, with its commanding elegance and combination of classical and Renaissance styles. Picnic near the castle and then visit it. In the afternoon, ride on Valencay forest lanes to the town of Selles sur Cher which is famous for a speciality cheese - with a round and cone-shaped appearance this raw goats cheese developed from ancient times.

Day Six:

After breakfast you visit a goat farm where goat cheese is produced and then set off riding at c. 10:30. Ride along the Cher valley to the village of Couffy and continue through a landscape of rolling slopes covered with woods and vineyards. Picnic at Chateauvieux village. In the afternoon, follow lanes and paths to Mareuil castle and spend the night in the village of Saint Aignan.

Day Seven:

Carry on riding through the Cher valley, crossing the river at Thesee. Ride close to the Gue Pean castle and picnic at Bourre. Here you can visit the mushroom nursery cave and the underground city or silkworm rearing farm (dependent on visiting hours). It's just an hours ride back to Vallagon castle where you overnight in a nearby hotel.

Day Eight:

After breakfast you are transferred to Montrichard train station.

NB. Please note that the itinerary is a guide and changes may need to be

made depending on weather, security, availability etc but always with

your best interests at heart.



Minimum group size: 5
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: You need to be a capable rider who is comfortable in all paces riding outdoors and you should be riding regularly.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 8 days / 7 nights / 6 days riding
Departure dates: 2017: 13 - 20 August
 
Pricing: 2017:

Price per person, based on shared accommodation: £1382

Single supplement £259.

Please note that prices do not include drinks in hotels and restaurants or entrance fees.