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A Taste of Armagnac (Unguided)

Overview

In the beautiful French region of Armagnac, southwest France, lie a stables of well-trained horses who offer the ideal way to explore this lovely part of the world. Your host, Evelien, is a trained horse riding guide who speaks fluent Dutch, French and excellent English. Unguided riding means your …

Highlights

  • Adventurous unguided trail
  • Able to set your own pace
  • Beautiful area of Armagnac
  • Well trained horses
  • Trekking or English saddles

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 4 riders per group
  • Average of 5 - 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14st 2lbs

Description

In the beautiful French region of Armagnac, southwest France, lie a stables of well-trained horses who offer the ideal way to explore this lovely part of the world. Your host, Evelien, is a trained horse riding guide who speaks fluent Dutch, French and excellent English. Unguided riding means your group can ride alone with only the horses and maps of the route.

The Armagnac region is primarily known for its production of the oldest French brandy but it is also an area rich in historical significance and charming countryside. The 'counts of Armagnac' were politically very strong during the 14th and 15th centuries, the height of the region's power, and it was during this time that the Armagnac brandy became a commercialised product and sold throughout the country. As part of Gascony the region enjoys a wonderful climate and is mainly agricultural with fields of crops, rolling hills and a variety of rivers. The historical bastide towns and villages which dot the area take you back to times gone by and riders will see some fascinating architecture during their holiday, ranging from impressive châteaux and fortresses to traditional stone farmhouses.

Evelien's horses are of mixed breeds and live outdoors as a herd. During the ride, you will need to look after the horses yourself and therefore must have experience of horse care. Riders must go out in pairs or more and carry a map, compass and mobile phone. Preferably a few words of French wouldn't go amiss!

Try a holiday here for a true taste of Armagnac and a great horse riding experience!

Horses & Riding

Tack

Most of the saddles used are easy-care synthetic Wintec or Trekking saddles, which are lightweight and sturdy. The horses are predominantly ridden in simple snaffle bridles with rope halters left on for ease of tethering when you stop.

Horses

Various breeds including some appaloosa, French crosses and standardbreds. The horses belong to host Evelien and generally live outdoors as a herd year-round. They are well-schooled and can be matched to different riders in order to give guests a happy and enjoyable ride. During the trail, you will need to look after the horses yourself and therefore must have experience of horse care.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Four Day Armagnac Trail (Unguided) is a trail ride

Ages

12+ for riders

Health

Good health and fitness recommended.

Weight

90kg / 198 lbs / 14st 2lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

All meals are included during the trail ride, from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day. Soft drinks with meals are also included.

Accommodation

During the Four Day Trail, guests are accommodated in typical chambres d'hôtes (small local guesthouses) which offer a warm welcome and serve good local cuisine. Some have swimming pools but all offer excellent hospitality.

Itineraries

Four Day Armagnac Trail (Unguided) Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

During the trail ride, you will likely have little time or energy for other activities. However, the region is beautiful for those who enjoy the outdoors and is particularly well set out for walking, cycling or exploring. We would certainly recommend planning to spend an extra few nights in the area before or after your stay in order to make the most of the natural treasures of the Armagnac.

Travel

Guests should fly into Bordeaux and from there it is about a 1.5-hour drive to the stables.

Alternatively, you can travel to the nearby town of Gabarret on public transport and your hosts will collect you from here free of charge. To reach Gabarret you will need to take a train from Bordeaux to Marmande and then a bus on to Gabarret. We can happily provide additional information about trains and buses if you would like to take this option - please just ask.

Testimonials

Caroline & Gary M., June 7, 2021

FABULOUS. Happy, forward, responsive horses, a huge variety of landscapes in 4 days - a true adventure in a beautiful and rural part of France. As well as having some epic canters through the forest, it was wonderful to ride through ancient and picturesque villages, Most days we didn't meet a soul - which was the adventure for us!


Niall M., Nov. 11, 2015

Evelien was great, we could see she was a touch nervous about her horses at first, but she soon realised we were looking after them properly, and I could navigate us correctly. Accommodation was great, people we stayed with were very friendly and very good food. The trip was amazing, like stepping into another world really. One town we rode into was so olde world and silent, that if Clint Eastwood in poncho with six gun had sauntered out of a house and asked us why we were there, I wouldn't have been surprised! I have happy memories and we will return for another go, I'm sure. Thanks for suggesting the trip, and please convey our thanks to Evelien and Gentien for a great holiday.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Sunday

Riding: No riding.

Arrival at the stables between 4pm - 7pm for a welcome drink and a chance to meet the horses. Evelien will explain the trail route, indicating the trail on the maps. Dinner and overnight at Gentiane's (a chambre d'hôte with swimming pool),  located just five minutes from the stables.

Day 2 - Monday

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

This morning you will follow the pilgrims' route to Santiago de Compostella and on to Montréal du Gers, where you will stay in the ancient house of Annick. The ride today is approximately 4.5 hours and includes hilly landscapes dotted with vineyards, fields of sunflowers (in summer!) and woodlands.

Day 3 - Tuesday

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

The ride today heads north with a visit to Fourcès, an old round fortified village. You will join Mezin in the Lot et Garonne and then your ride will take you into the hilly forest.  You will stay tonight at the comfortable accommodation belonging to Isabelle and Jean-Pierre. There is a swimming pool here so you can relax with a dip after the long hours of riding.

Day 4 - Wednesday

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you will ride on the border of the biggest artificial forest of Europe, la Forêt Landaise. The forest offers sandy tracks which provide the perfect going for fast canters! From here you will cross Poudenas, an old village with a charming chateau and church on top of a hill. You will then follow a disused railway track and make your way to the chambre d'hôte of Louisette et Alain.

Day 5 - Thursday

Riding: 4 - 7 hours

Your last day of riding sees you heading home to the stables and covers two different routes. Your ride takes you via another disused railway track to Sos, a charming village.  You will see a charming old church lost in the countryside.  The first route is a shorter option with lunch at the Lake of Castelnau d'Auzan (4.5 or 5.5 hours). The second is a longer ride through the Forêt Landaise. This route take 6-7 hours but is only recommended  to those riders with good map reading skills and if the horses are still keen to go the longer distance. Overnight is once again at Gentiane's place, (the  chambre d'hôte with swimming pool).

Day 6 - Friday

Riding: No riding.

Breakfast and departure.

Accommodation

During the trail riders are accommodated in small local guesthouses (chambres d'hôte) in twin or double rooms.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Riders should be capable of riding at walk, trot and canter in open country and for long hours. You should be able to groom, saddle and care for your horse independently.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 4
Departure windows

At any time during: April 4, 2021 - Oct. 15, 2021  (Dates are available to suit with Sunday arrivals and Friday departures)

At any time during: April 3, 2022 - Oct. 14, 2022  (Dates are available to suit with Sunday arrivals and Friday departures)

Pricing

2021
Sharing
£720 $1000 €860
2022
Sharing
£745 $1030 €885
Included 5 nights of shared room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, soft drinks with meals, 4 days of self-guided riding, luggage transport between overnight stops and route maps.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, transfers, alcoholic drinks, tips & other personal expenses.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.