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Pays de la Loire

Overview

The Loire Valley comprises 800 square kilometres along the banks of the Loire River and is often referred to as the Garden of France due to its abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards and fields of artichoke and asparagus. The central part of the Loire Valley was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site …

Highlights

  • Ride up to the glorious chateaux of the Loire
  • Visit spectacular chateaux such as Cheverny & Chambord
  • Ride along the banks of the Loire and through forests
  • Enjoy the delicious local cheeses, wines and delicacies
  • Short breaks available and cyclists welcomed too

Essential Facts

  • 5 itineraries available
  • Max 10 riders per group
  • Average of 4 - 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14 st 2lbs

Description

The Loire Valley comprises 800 square kilometres along the banks of the Loire River and is often referred to as the Garden of France due to its abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards and fields of artichoke and asparagus. The central part of the Loire Valley was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 for its cultural landscape housing historic cities and villages along with great architectural monuments - its famed chateaux. There are more than 300 chateaux in the region, ranging from those built for defence in the 10th century, up to the splendour of those built half a millennium later.

Our partners for this ride base themselves in the region of Sologne where the notable chateaux within riding distance include Chambord, Villesavin, Beauregard, Chaumont sur Loire, Le Clos Luce, Chenonceau and Cheverny. Your lead guide, Ken, has competed in TREC and carriage driving, with a specialism in natural horsemanship techniques. He is also an equine physiotherapist so you can be assured of happy horses. Sophie, his partner, is responsible for the care and training of the horses and is also an instructor, TREC rider and natural horsemanship advocate. They breed many of their horses and are proud to offer multi-skilled, adaptable, well educated and respectful mounts to their guests. They breed Franches-Montagnes horses (Freiberger), which are renowned for their good temperaments but have also crossed some Arabian blood for increased stamina on long rides.

Trails are available from short weekends up to full week-long journeys. This region is not only known for its sensational architecture and magnificent scenery but is also home to delicious wine, beer, cheese and other local specialities - ride a horse, sip chilled AOC Sancerre or Cheverny wine and perhaps taste the 'Crottin de Chavignol' goats cheese in its home village!

Cyclists are also welcome to join the tours if accompanying a horse rider - we can provide bike rental, maps (paper or smartphone) and luggage transfer, following the same routes as their riding companions.

Horses & Riding

Tack

English or trail saddles

Horses

Your hosts breed Franches-Montagnes horses (Freiberger), which are renowned for their good temperaments, Some have been crossed with Arabians to introduce better stamina for long rides. The results are a selection of level-headed, multi-skilled, adaptable, well educated and respectful homebred horses that your hosts are proud to offer to their guests.

Riding

There are 5 itineraries:

  • Loire Castle Trail is a trail ride
  • Loire Castle Short-Break is a trail ride
  • Loire Weekend Break is a based ride
  • Sancerre on Horseback is a based ride
  • Cher Valley Castles & Gastronomy Tour is a based ride

Ages

Children from 12 years and older are accepted with their parents.

Health

General good health

Weight

90kg / 198 lbs / 14 st 2lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

Breakfasts are taken at the hotels.

Lunches are cold and homemade including mixed salads, local meats, savoury tarts and bread, traditional cheeses etc. Sometimes lunch is eaten as a picnic and sometimes taken in local restaurants.

Dinners are three courses, usually provided by the hotels or at local restaurants and will include plenty of regional specialities.

Drinks are not included and can be paid for locally.

Accommodation

You stay in a selection of 2 or 3 star hotels in twin/double rooms.

Itineraries

Loire Castle Trail Standard accommodation.

Loire Castle Short-Break Standard accommodation.

Loire Weekend Break Standard accommodation.

Sancerre on Horseback Standard accommodation.

Cher Valley Castles & Gastronomy Tour Luxury accommodation.

Other Activities

There are plenty of opportunities to visit the castles and gardens that you ride to each day. Visits are optional and entrance fees payable locally, so you can just visit the ones which interest you, or you can visit them all.

Non-riders who are cyclists and wish to hire a bike and meet up with the riders along the way can be accommodated. Please enquire.

Travel

The best way to reach the riding centre is to arrive by train at Blois Chambord Station, which is about 1.5-2 hours from Paris. You can either fly to Paris or take a train through the Channel Tunnel and then board a local service to Chambord. The trains are very reliable and easy to book.

Transfers from the train station are at an additional cost and are usually planned for between 6 - 6.30pm on arrival day.

Testimonials

Maria B., Sept. 17, 2021

Amazing, a world class riding holiday. Fantastic environments, landscape and castles, very nice horses, lovely food and wine and the best possible service.


Chelsea B., March 24, 2020

Just like the other two trips we've taken with Far and Ride, this one in Val de Loire was also amazing! Great horses, guides, hosts, food and accommodation! Crystal and I are already planning for another 2020 or 2021 trip. Thank you for everything!


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Arrival earlier evening - transfers from the train station (additional cost) are usually around 6 - 6.30pm. Dinner and overnight in Courmemin.

Day 2

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Set off on your first ride across the Sologne with its beautiful lakes and forests. After lunch on the banks of the Beuvron in Bracieux, you'll ride to the little XIVth century church of Sainte-Nicaise and your first castle - Chambord. This huge hunting lodge was built by Francois 1st in the XVIth century and is now a French heritage jewel. There is time to visit the castle before remounting the horses to ride to Villesavin castle - here the horses spend the night and you transfer to a hotel in Tour en Sologne for dinner and to overnight.

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Start the day by visiting Villesavin castle where the horses have stayed. This small Renaissance castle was once the seat of the Chambord bailiff. Mount your horses and ride to the small XVth century castle of Bearegard for lunch. This castle houses a famous gallery with 327 different portraits of historical characters and walls painted with Lapis Lazuli. After your visit you ride out of Sologne and into the Touraine region to the village of Ouchamps. Dinner and overnight in Relai des Landes.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Leave Ouchamps and cross the Beuvron in Cande to reach the banks of the Loire river and the majestic castle of Chaumont Sur Loire. The castle was built on the ruins of an old fortress under the orders of the Count of Blois to protect his castle from invasions. After lunch you visit this castle and its famous gardens where you can admire the beautiful stables and circular riding arena. During the afternoon, ride along the banks of the Loire to reach Mosnes. Dinner and overnight in hotel Domaine des Thomeaux.

Day 5

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

You will continue riding along the Loire banks to Amboise with its beautiful castle sitting at the top of the village. For lunch today you stop at Le Clos Luce, a gorgeous Renaissance mansion that was the last home of Leonardo Da Vinci - it also houses the Da Vinci Inventions Museum. In the afternoon leave the Loire river and head south to another valley river which is spanned by your guides favourite castle - Chenonceau. Dinner and overnight in a hotel in Chenonceau.

Day 6

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

This morning you will be able to visit Chenonceau castle and gardens before setting off to ride along the GR du Pays des Chateaux for a back to nature day amongst the huge forests of Touraine. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the countryside and an open-air siesta before riding back to Ouchamps. Dinner and overnight at Relais des Landes.

Day 7

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Ride out of Touraine and back into the region of Sologne to discover Cheverny castle - the mansion on which Herge modelled Captain Haddock's country house, Marlinspike Hall. There will be some free time to visit before re-mounting to ride through the game breeding parks where you may spot deer or wild boar. You'll be back at the stables for c. 6 pm and are then free to depart from c. 7 pm. 

 Transfers to/from Chambord train station are possible for an extra cost (payable locally).

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need to be comfortable in all gaits across varied terrain

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

April 8, 2022 - April 14, 2022

May 13, 2022 - May 19, 2022

June 17, 2022 - June 23, 2022

July 1, 2022 - July 7, 2022

Aug. 5, 2022 - Aug. 11, 2022

Sept. 9, 2022 - Sept. 15, 2022

Oct. 14, 2022 - Oct. 20, 2022

Pricing

2022
Sharing
£1435 $1815 €1690
Included 6 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from dinner on arrival day until lunch on departure day, 6 days of riding as per the itinerary.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, airport or local station transfers, drinks, entrance fees to museums and castles, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2022 - Extra Hotel Night (shared room) £85 $108 €100 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Half board sharing a twin room
2022 - Extra Hotel Night (single room) £111 $140 €130 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Half board in a single room
2022 - Single Supplement £280 $350 €330
Paid to Far and Ride
Single supplement is payable unless a sharer is found
2021 - Train Station Transfer €40
Paid locally
Train station transfers are per car, payable locally.
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.

Day 1

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

* Please note that you will need to have arrived before 9 am on Day 1 of this ride. We recommend taking an early morning train from Paris or arriving the night before and staying at a hotel nearby. Extra nights of accommodation can be organised for you if required (additional costs apply).

Meet the team and your horses and set off riding at c. 9.30 am across the Sologne and the beautiful lakes and forests of the region. Stop for lunch on the banks of the Beuvron in Bracieux near the little XIVth century church of Sainte Nicaise. After lunch, you reach your first castle - Chambord. This huge hunting lodge was built by Francoise the Ist in the XVIth century and is now one of France's main heritage jewels. Optional visit (1.5hrs) and then ride onto Villesavin castle where the horses stay overnight. Transfer to your hotel in Tour en Sologne.

Day 2

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Start the day by visiting Villesavin castle where the horses spent the night - this small Renaissance castle was once the seat of power for the bailiff of Chambord. Mount up and ride to Beauregard for lunch. The XVth century Beauregard houses a famous gallery with 327 portraits of historical characters, as well as Lapis Lazuli painted walls. After visiting the castle you remount and leave the Sologne region behind to enter the Touraine and the village of Ouchamps. Dinner and night in Relais des Landes.

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Leave Ouchamps to cross the Beuvron in Cande and reach the banks of the Loire and the majestic castle of Chaumont sur Loire. Chaumont Sur Loire was built on the ruins of an old fortress on the orders of the count of Blois to protect his castle from invasions. After lunch, you can visit the castle and gardens and admire the beautiful stables and circular riding arena. In the afternoon you ride along the Loire to reach Mosnes where you overnight in Domaine des Thomeaux.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Keep riding along the banks of the Loire to Amboise where you can admire the beautiful castle at the top of the village. Stop for lunch at Le Clos Luce, a gorgeous Renaissance mansion that was the last home of Leonardo Da Vinci and also houses his inventions museum. After your visit, remount and head south away from the Loire and into another valley, ending at your guides favourite castle - Chenonceau. There is time to visit the castle before your departure at 7 pm. (We recommend adding an extra night of accommodation so you don't have to depart straight after this, but you can take a train this evening if you prefer).

Accommodation

You stay in 2 or 3 hotels with private bathrooms. Most of these hotels also have swimming pools, spa and gastronomic restaurants.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need to be comfortable in all gaits across varied terrain

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

April 9, 2022 - April 12, 2022

May 14, 2022 - May 17, 2022

June 18, 2022 - June 21, 2022

July 2, 2022 - July 5, 2022

Aug. 6, 2022 - Aug. 9, 2022

Sept. 10, 2022 - Sept. 13, 2022

Oct. 15, 2022 - Oct. 18, 2022

Pricing

2022
Sharing
£845 $1070 €995
Included 3 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from lunch on arrival day until lunch on departure day, 4 days of riding as per the itinerary.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, airport or local station transfers, drinks, entrance fees to museums and castles, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2022 - Extra Hotel Night (shared room) £85 $108 €100 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Per person sharing a twin (half board)
2022 - Extra Hotel Night (single room) £111 $140 €130 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Single room (half board)
2022 - Single Supplement £140 $177 €165
Paid to Far and Ride
Payable unless a sharer is found.
2021 - Train Station Transfer €40
Paid locally
Transfers from the train station are per car, payable locally.
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.

Day 1

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

* Please note that you will need to have arrived before 9 am on Day 1 of this ride. We recommend taking an early morning train from Paris or arriving the night before and staying at a hotel nearby. Extra nights of accommodation can be organised for you if required (additional costs apply).

The itinerary will be fairly flexible depending on your preferences and what is available at the time of your visit. Generally speaking, each morning you will ride to a castle, where you can stop for a picnic lunch and have the option to visit the castle on foot before riding back to your guesthouse for dinner in the evening. 

On a 2 night/3 day stay, three of the following castles will be visited, whilst on a 1 night/2 day stay, two of the following castles:

- Cheverny: the mansion on which Herge modelled Captain Haddock's country house, Marlinspike Hall.
- Chambord: the biggest and most prestigious castle in the Loire valley
- Villesavin: the Chambord bailiff's seat in the sixteenth century
- Le Moulin: a magnificent and little known, miniature private castle, home to the Strawberry Museum

Day 2

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

On the final day, you will ride to visit a different castle that you have not had a chance to see yet. At the end of the day you return to the stables at around 6 pm and are free to depart from around 7 pm. For those who wish, we can book an additional nights accommodation (at extra cost) if you wish to depart at a more leisurely time the next morning.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need to be comfortable in all gaits across varied terrain

Minimum group size 3
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

April 16, 2022 - April 18, 2022

April 30, 2022 - May 1, 2022

May 7, 2022 - May 8, 2022

May 21, 2022 - May 22, 2022

May 26, 2022 - May 29, 2022  (+ Sologne day)

June 4, 2022 - June 5, 2022

June 11, 2022 - June 12, 2022

Sept. 3, 2022 - Sept. 4, 2022

Sept. 24, 2022 - Sept. 25, 2022

Oct. 1, 2022 - Oct. 2, 2022

Oct. 22, 2022 - Oct. 23, 2022

Oct. 29, 2022 - Nov. 1, 2022  (+ Sologne day)

Nov. 11, 2022 - Nov. 13, 2022

Pricing

2022
4 days/3 nights programme, sharing
£560 $705 €660
2022
3 days/2 nights programme, sharing
£420 $530 €495
2022
2 days/1 night programme, sharing
£280 $350 €330
Included Accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from lunch on arrival day until lunch on departure day, riding as per the itinerary.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, airport or local station transfers, drinks, entrance fees to museums and castles, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2022 - Extra Hotel Night (shared room) £68 $86 €80 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Sharing a Twin/Double
2022 - Extra Hotel Night (single room) £94 $118 €110 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Single room
2022 - Single Supplement £26 $32 €30 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Payable by anyone in a single room, unless a sharer is found.
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.

Day 1

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

* Please note that you will need to have arrived before 9 am on Day 1 of this ride. We recommend taking an early morning train from Paris or arriving the night before and staying at a hotel nearby. Extra nights of accommodation can be organised for you if required (additional costs apply).

Meet your horses and set off riding, at approx. 9:30 am, through the forests of Berry to reach your picnic stop at the national pottery museum of La Borne. After lunch, you will have time to visit the museum and potters workshops (your backup vehicle will be on hand to carry any purchases you make to your accommodation!). Continue riding through the Pays Fort region of Sancerre through the afternoon.

Day 2

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Ride through the Sancerre bocages (woodlands) towards the XIIth century tower of Vesvres. After lunch, the inhabitants of the village will offer you a guided tour of this fortified castle from the Middle Ages (c. 45mins). Remount and continue through the Pays Fort region back to your guesthouse.

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

A beautiful day with ever-changing landscapes. Cross the huge forests of the Pays Fort to reach the Berry fields and see Sancerre's west side rising on the horizon. Have lunch in a home brewery overhanging the valley which is sprawled with vineyards - Sancerre's brewers have been making their unique beers here for over a decade (again, the vehicle will be on hand if you wish to purchase anything). In the afternoon leave Sancerre by the south side to return to the stables via the village of Chavignol which is famous for the goat cheese Crottin de Chavignol.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Your final day takes you to the Castle of Boucard, a private XIVth century castle with a beautiful Renaissance courtyard. You can walk alongside the castle moat which is fed by the Sauldre river. Then a final ride back through the Berry lands to reach the stables for a departure at 6 pm.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need to be comfortable in all gaits across varied terrain

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

June 25, 2022 - June 26, 2022

Nov. 5, 2022 - Nov. 6, 2022

Pricing

2022
2 days/1 night, sharing
£320 $405 €380
2022
3 days/2 nights, sharing
£480 $610 €570
2022
4 days/3 nights, sharing
£645 $815 €760
Included Accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from lunch on arrival day until lunch on departure day, riding as per the itinerary.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, airport or local station transfers, drinks, entrance fees to museums and castles, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2022 - Extra Night £68 $86 €80 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Half board, sharing a twin/double room
2022 - Single Supplement £26 $32 €30 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Single supplement payable by anyone in a single room.
2022 - Small Group Supplement £43 $54 €50 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Payable to confirm for 3 riders
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.

Day 1 - Loire Valley - Château of Chaumont

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Meeting at 8:30 AM, for your first day of riding toward Chaumont castle. You will admire its beautiful banks, before reaching the castle for lunch. Classified in the UNESCO program, the former Medieval fortress of Chaumont is now a magnificent Renaissance castle overlooking the Loire Valley. Optional visit (about 1h30) following your riding afternoon via l'Ile de la Folie and its little green paths. Dinner and night in Domaine des Thomeaux***

Day 2 - Montrichard forest - Troglodyte cave and wine tasting

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

On your second day, you start travelling toward the South East to cross the Montrichard forest. You will enjoy its large sand paths for great trotting and cantering. After having lunch in the heart of the forest, you will leave the Loire Valley to reach the Cher Valley. Cher Valley is known for its beautiful white stone houses and its gently rolling landscape. Your ride ends in Bourré village where your horses will rest. It's now time to enjoy a visit to a troglodyte cave (dug into rocks) where you will learn everything about its history. Your visit will end with a traditional wine and local products tasting in the cave. Car transfer to the restaurant for dinner and night in Domaine des Thomeaux***

Day 3 - Aiguegige Abbaye - Chateau of Montpoupon

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Your third day will take you across the Cher river to reach the Touraine/Indre limit and pays Lochois. You will have lunch at the Aiguevive Abbaye, XIth century vestige, and then get back in the saddle to ride toward the lovely Montpoupon castle in the mid-afternoon. The horses will have a rest here while you will be able to enjoy this little elegant Renaissance castle with its rich amazon collection (about 1h). Night and dinner in Domaine des Thomeaux***

Day 4 - Cher Valley - Chateau of Chenonceau

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

You will mount up at around 9:00 AM this morning, heading West toward the famous Chenonceau castle. Lunch near the chateau is followed by an optional visit (about 1h30) to the castle. Chenonceau, often considered the "rock-star" of the Loire Valley, will conquer you with its gorgeous furniture, its lovely gardens and its famous arches over the Cher river. You will be able to admire them one last time during your riding afternoon on the South bank before reaching your night break in Dierre. Night and dinner in Domaine des Thomeaux***

Day 5 - Amboise Forest - Chateau of Amboise

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Already it's your last day in the Loire Valley. You will leave Dierre in the morning, heading toward the city of Amboise. You will appreciate the beauty and the energy of this former Medieval royal village overlooked by its magnificent royal castle. You will have lunch on the Loire banks followed by a castle visit (about 1h30) to enjoy the beautiful view of the Loire river. You will get back in the saddle to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of this region one last time, before coming back to Rilly at the end of the afternoon. Departure after a traditional french aperitive.

*An extra night of accommodation can be booked for you at an additional charge.

Accommodation

All nights will be spent in twin, double or single rooms at a lovely 3* spa hotel in Amboise.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need to be comfortable in all gaits across varied terrain

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

July 11, 2022 - July 15, 2022

July 18, 2022 - July 22, 2022

July 25, 2022 - July 29, 2022

Aug. 1, 2022 - Aug. 5, 2022

Aug. 15, 2022 - Aug. 19, 2022

Pricing

2022
sharing (twin/double)
£1015 $1285 €1195
Included 4 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from lunch on arrival day until lunch on departure day, 5 days of riding as per the itinerary.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, airport or local station transfers, drinks, entrance fees to museums and castles, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2022 - Extra Night (double/twin room) £77 $97 €90
Paid to Far and Ride
2022 - Extra Night (single room) £111 $140 €130
Paid to Far and Ride
2022 - Single Supplement £170 $215 €200
Paid to Far and Ride
Payable by anyone requiring a single room. Those willing to share a room will not have to pay the supplement provided a room sharer is found.
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.