Tarn Valley Retreat riding holiday in France - Far and Ride
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Tarn Valley Retreat, France


Type of horses:

Arabs, Anglo Fresian crosses, Quarter horse, Andalusian and Normandy cob

Nature of horses:

Well behaved and well schooled

Height of horses:

15hh +

Weight limit:

80kgs / 12.6 stone

Tack type:

English, Western and Endurance saddles are available. All bridles are bitless.


Travel Advice

Please ensure you read the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice before you travel.

Ride Description

The beautiful Tarn region of south-west France is the location for this new luxurious ride. Set in a lush valley overlooking the historic and picturesque hilltop village of Cordes-sur Ciel, the stunning, large stone house is nestled within landscaped gardens and meadows, surrounded by over 150 acres of private hillside woodland.

The accommodation is a highlight here with the retreat having guest bedrooms spread over the main house and the old converted stables, each full of character and comfort and all of the them with either en suite or dedicated bathrooms.

The horse-riding guide is an advocate of natural horsemanship and all the horses are trained and ridden kindly. Even on the trail weeks you'll discover the freedom of bitless riding. For those who wish to learn more, there are also Natural Horsemanship Clinics where you can learn skills and develop a bond with your horse under his watchful eye.

This ride emphasises fun, views, comfort and relaxation. You will get the chance to ride through wonderful, peaceful and varied countryside but return to the comfort and pampering of your own room at the retreat each evening - no packing up and moving on here!

On non riding days, trips are organised to visit the many beautiful medieval villages, the wonderful local markets, the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site in Albi or even the stunning local golf course!

Plenty of time will be left to relax and to enjoy other non riding activities making it the perfect holiday for riders and non riders alike .

See Programmes.


Food & Accommodation

You stay in the beautiful St Jean Retreat which is a renovated stone house set within landscaped gardens. There are nine rooms in total - four in the main house and five in the converted stables.

The main house has a spacious living room, dining area and outdoor terrace. There is also an outdoor covered dining area with an open fire, perfect for all seasons. The four bedrooms all have private en-suites - some with showers and others with baths.

The stable rooms are on two floors with two on the lower ground floor and three upstairs. Three rooms have en-suite whilst the remaining double and single upstairs share a bathroom but also benefit from a private sitting room and balcony.

There is an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by mature plants and shrubs.

All meals are provided. They have their own kitchen garden for many of the vegetables and pride themselves on buying other produce from local farmers and markets.

Continental breakfasts include fresh locally made croissants & breads, a selection of jams, cereals, muesli, yoghurts, fruits and juices, coffees, teas and infusions.

Lunches will vary depending on the day’s planned activities but will range from long lazy lunches on the terrace to those special picnics set up along the trail to enjoy the views and the weather. Even for those lunches arranged along the trail, non riding guests can be taken to join their riding partners to participate in and experience the many lovely local views around and about.

Three course dinners will be prepared by the local professional chef and are cooked using, as far as possible, local ingredients and served with largely local wines.

Most specialised diets can be accommodated with advance notice.

Wine/beer is provided with dinner and they even have their own fresh water spring.



Apart from riding, there is an outdoor heated pool, a private tennis court, fantastic walks or cycling - both on and off road.

On site Yoga, massage, acupuncture or reiki can all be arranged if desired.

There is a really good local golf course (Lasbordes) in nearby Albi for those interested. There are also a number of local vineyards for wine tasting


Further Details

Languages: Your host speaks English, French and some Spanish. Your riding guide speaks English, French, Dutch and some German.

Health requirements: No specific requirements

Age limit: 16 years and older

Tuition: Yes, on the natural horsemanship clinics

Included: Accommodation, all meals, wine/beer with dinner, riding, set-time group airport transfers or railway station transfers

Not included: Flights, insurance, additional treatments such as massage


Travel Information

The retreat is only c. 1 hour from Toulouse Blagnac International Airport.

There are very frequent direct flights (daily) to Toulouse from London (Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted) with either BA, EasyJet or RyanAir. There are also frequent flights from Bristol and Manchester as well as Dublin with Aer Lingus. Toulouse airport also services many other European cities direct on a daily basis.

Toulouse airport to the retreat is straightforward, either by cab or train taking between 1-2 hours. Trains are a great way to travel and you can be collected from the local Cordes-Vindrac station.

Alternatively, from St Pancras (London) you can either take a train to:

A)Paris Gare du Nord and then cross Paris by metro or cab to take a train from Gare Montparnasse direction Toulouse via Bordeaux then changing at Toulouse for Gaillac or
B) Lille and change to a train to Bordeaux & Toulouse again getting off at Toulouse and changing trains to Gaillac.

Group set-time transfers from Toulouse airport are included and transfers from Gaillac or Cordes railways station are included.

Airport: Toulouse

Alternative Airport: Perpignan



Natural Horsemanship Clinic

This five night stay is ideal for riders who wish to build a partnership with their horse and learn more about Natural Horsemanship. Perhaps you've had a bad experience, lost your nerve or simply want to learn how to connect on their level? Your guide will support and encourage you during clinics and riding sessions through the beautiful landscapes of the retreat. Please note that the sample itinerary below is subject to change depending on your prior experience and progress - there may be more riding sessions or faster progression through the games.

Day One:

You will be met at the railway station (or groups can be collected from the airport at set times) and transferred to the retreat. You can arrive from mid afternoon onwards and relax in your new surroundings before dinner with your host and guide.

Day Two:

During the morning you will meet with the horses and your guide will let the horses choose you for the rest of the weeks training sessions. He will set out the goals for the week and introduce you to the 'tools', allowing you to try them out on each other before the horses. You'll also explore 'horseonality'.

In the afternoon you will start in the sand school with the horses using the Parelli seven games. 

Day Three:

During the morning your groundwork sessions will focus on teaching your horse to stand still and exploring the process of creating a partner rather than slave from your horse. You'll develop the 'Friendly game' and 'Porcupine game'.

After lunch you'll mount up and learn how to ride on a halter and use your body as aids.  Time allowing, you may also move onto the 'Yo-yo game'.

Day Four:

During the morning your guide will set a small test for you to work through with your horse and assess your progression. It's not about judging you, but helping you to develop. 

The afternoon allows time to practice and work on more of the games. There may be time to video your work and review it with your guide.

Day Five:

After practicing the seven games again, you'll set out on a trail ride through the beautiful countryside of the Tarn Valley, allowing you to fully experience the partnership you've built with your horse.

Day Six:

After breakfast you are transferred back to the airport or train station for your departure. 

Minimum group size: 6
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description:
Type of ride: Centre based
Total riding time: 5 nights / 4 days (number of hours riding is flexible but you'll spend lots of time with the horses each day).
Departure dates: 2019:
8-13 June, 6-11 July
Pricing: 2019:

£1200 per person
Non-riders sharing with rider: £594

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.

Tarn Valley Trail

Follow trails which take you through a varied countryside of hidden valleys, vineyards, meadows and woodland which will take you back to how riding ‘used to be ‘.

Great care has been taken in choosing the routes - different for each riding day - to try and make sure that experienced riders can enjoy long energetic trots, exciting canters as well as relaxing and inspiring walks. Your guide will ensure you’ll get the most out of your day and will try and keep riding on tarmac to an absolute minimum.


You will be met at either Cordes (5 minutes) or Gaillac (20 minutes) railway station, or groups can be collected from Toulouse airport (1 hour) and taken directly to St Jean in plenty of time for dinner.

You can arrive directly by car if you prefer and feel free to arrive any time from mid afternoon onwards.


After your first breakfast at St Jean, you’ll be taken to sample the fantastic Sunday morning market on the river at St Antonin noble Val, around 20 minutes via the most stunning scenery.

After a picnic lunch, you’ll be taken to meet with your horses, prepare for your first full riding day on Monday and take a short afternoon ride for those that wish to do so. For others, you can return to St Jean and relax by the pool.


Your first full riding day.

After breakfast, served on the covered terrace in warm weather, you’ll be given plenty of time to get ready, mount up and head off on mainly tranquil paths and trails. Starting in Vindrac and passing by La Curade and on to the beautiful hilltop village of Itzac, you'll ride up and over, stopping off for a lazy picnic lunch along the way in a stunning elevated spot. You then continue your ride towards Tonnac and on to Aleyrac before finishing the day at St Jean in time for a swim or snooze before gathering for pre dinner drinks in the garden.


After breakfast, you’ll mount up and set off along the ancient bridlepath towards Samarze with its beautiful views (including, from time to time, views towards the Pyrenees to the south west) down into a steep stunning valley towards the trout lake and then on towards Souel. Swing back up hill towards some old chalk caves where lunch will be served. Again the views are majestic and the caves are lovely and cool. After lunch you will head towards Mouzieys which again will provide you with beautiful views and countryside wending your way eventually back towards St Jean and a well earned rest.


Your last full riding day starts with a steep climb up the plateau above Cordes which provides some stunning views of the village itself. You will then head in the direction of Les Cabannes, riding along the river - including the pont des ânes, a narrow stone built crossing dating from the 15th century and then onwards towards Le Barthe Bleys where you will stop for lunch in the centre of this picturesque village. After lunch, you move on towards Marnave, over to the lovely wooded valley of Maraval and then the long climb up over the hill, past Aleyrac with its romantic views of Cordes in the distance. Finish your ride in Vindrac from where you will be taken the short distance home to St Jean.


After breakfast you will be transferred back to the train station/airport for your journey home.

Minimum group size: 6
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong intermediates - you should be comfortable at walk, trot and canter on a forward going horse in open countryside. Riders should be fairly fit to spend 4-5 hours in the saddle per day.
Type of ride: Centre based trail rides
Total riding time: 5 nights / 3.5 days of riding (c. 4-5 hours riding per day)
Departure dates: 2019:
18-23 May, 22-27 June, 20-25 July.
Pricing: 2019:

£1200 per person
Non-rider (sharing with rider): £594

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.