Thereâs something very special about the Lot Valley in June.
The fields are bursting with colour and life, and the temperature is balmy. So, here are three excellent reasons to book your riding holiday in France then:
Youâll spot beautiful orchids
Plant-lovers will be amazed at the range of wild flowers in bloom in Lot during June. The area is famed for its wild orchids including:
Military orchid â a small, purple orchid which blooms on the roadside in the Lot Valley. Look out for this from mid-May onwards.
Greater butterfly orchid â lovely white flowers which look like small butterflies, growing in a V formation. They love sunny woodlands.
Lesser butterfly orchid â a beautiful white orchid found in wooded areas and blooming from May onwards. Can be distinguished from the greater version because the flowers are parallel.
Woodcock orchid â grows on verges and roadsides and is often mistaken for the larger bee orchid.
Bee orchid â a soft, pink flower which is seen in meadows and pastures in June.
Man orchid â a rare bloom found in the High Causse and in flower in June.
Red helleborine â grows on the edge of woods and flowers between April and June. Look for these flowers in the Foret de Braunhie.
Dark red helleborine â a rare flower which comes into bloom in late June. Look for it in rocky limestone in the High Causse.
Chalk fragrant orchid â a pink flower with a lovely scent, look for it in grasslands in June.
Common spotted orchid â flowers well into June. This flower loves chalk grasslands so look for them in fields and meadows.
Frog orchid â a rare bloom with a green-brown colour which makes it hard to spot. Look for it in open woodlands and fens throughout June and July.
Heath spotted orchid â a flower found on acidic soils including peat bogs and marshy pastures which is seen in June.
Birdâs nest orchid â lives in leaf litter in beech woodland and comes into flower in May and June.
Youâll enjoy pleasant weather
It wonât be too hot during your visit in June. The average temperature high is 25C and a night-time low of 12C. So, riding will be warm and comfortable â you wonât face searing temperatures. Plus, youâll also be able to sleep well at night.
There is also an average of eight hours of sunshine a day. The climate here in June is balmy.
Youâll see amazing butterflies and birds
The proliferation of wild flowers mean Lot has many butterfly and moth species which you could see in June. Look out for rare Swallowtails, Meadow Fritillaries, Glanville, the Adonis Blue, and the Provencal Short-tailed Blue in limestone country including the Causse. In forests, you may see the Camberwell Beauty, Lesser Purple Emperor, Cardinal, and Southern White Admiral.
The number of insect species also attracts a large number of birds â perfect for any ornithologist. Look out for a hoopoe, short-toed eagle, marsh harriers, kites, buzzards, and black redstarts.
Are you ready to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of Lot in June? Click here to book your riding holiday in France.
If youâre looking for a calm, willing horse which is also athletic and energetic, why not ride a Normandy Cob?
They are hardy French horses which resemble thoroughbreds with a more robust frame, and they are popular for driving and riding.
In fact, in 2011 more than 33% of the horses in the French driving championships were Normandy Cobs.
They are famed for the length of their striding trots, and their stud book records seal brown, chestnut, and bay colourings. Official records for the breed have been kept for almost 70 years – the first stud book was produced in 1950.
The breed was used by the French military to pull artillery and by the French postal service to deliver and pick up mail. The cob was also used widely in agriculture in Northern France.
It originated in Normandy as a cross between the small horses of the area, the bidets, and the Carrossier Normand, a now-extinct breed of carriage horse which was widely seen in the early 20th Century.
While other breeds were threatened by mechanisation in agriculture and other industries, Normandy Cob breeders crossed their horses with thoroughbreds and that contributed to the French national saddle horse breed, the Selle FranĂ§ais.
In the 1980s, breeders worked hard to stem the threat of inbreeding and genetic drift to ensure the Normandy Cob had a bright future. Now, they can be seen in different parts of France, especially in Calvados, Manche, and Orne.
Normandy Cobs are hugely popular for all sorts of equestrian pursuits because they are calm and have winning personalities.
What does a typical Normandy Cob look like?
These elegant horses generally stand between 15.25 hands and 16.35 hands high, and weigh between 550kg and 900kg.
There are large variations in weight and height throughout the breed, though, caused by the different uses for the horses.
Look for a square profile and a short back, a head with good proportions, a convex or straight facial profile, wide nostrils, and small ears.
Normandy Cobs have a deep chest, broad, angled shoulders, muscular, short legs, and powerful hindquarters. They have round, strong feet and shed their shaggy winter coats in Spring.
The most popular Normandy Cob colourings include bays with white markings, chestnut, and seal brown.
Meet our Normandy CobsâŠ
Dunka â Standing at 16.3 hands high, Dunka will be five this year. She is gentle, friendly, and loves to have fun. Our visitors adore her!
Bamboo â He will be four this year, and is a typical example of the calm, friendly Normandy Cob. Bamboo stands at 17 hands high, so is a large example of the breed. He is very popular with our riders.
Would you like to meet our Normandy Cobs in person? Theyâre ideal horses to develop your riding skills because theyâre calm and friendly. Book your French riding holiday today. You can contact us here.
Have you hankered after a week-long experience which would allow you to spend as much time as possible with horses?
If so, our intensive training week would be an ideal experience for you. Itâs back by popular demand in 2018 after two courses in May and September 2017 and will help you learn about horse care, bonding with your horse, and riding skills.
For the week starting May 5, 2018, weâre offering you our all-inclusive, bespoke intensive riding workshop holiday.
Alongside the long, leisurely rides for which ChĂąteau de LaumiĂšre is famed, youâll receive a one-to-one training programme which we tailor specially to your individual needs.
Youâll be able to spend the entire day handling and working with horses.
This is ideal for riders who want to learn more or those who want to improve their confidence.
For some riders, a fall or a scare can knock that confidence in the saddle.
Our highly-qualified riding instructor Tanya will help you overcome your fears. She is calm, sympathetic, and has years of experience.
The intensive course will give you valuable skills including:
Groundwork â the basis of riding and handling skills, with lunging, join-up, long-lining, and work on the ground.
Dressage â our manege is the perfect place to learn and hone dressage skills, especially if youâre interested in competitions.
Jumping â always wanted to jump but have never learned how? Perhaps you need a refresher after a break of several years. Come to our intensive course where our experienced instructor will show you what you need to know.
Whatever you need, weâll tailor our course to help you. Itâs all about helping you to enjoy horses and riding.
Our course is for all levels of rider, not just those who are very experienced, and you can attend whether you own your own horse or not.
Itâs about developing your skills the way you want to take them. Whatever you want to do more of, weâll help you achieve that.
Weâll be offering the usual morning ride, with intensive sessions in the afternoons.
Our intensive training week always starts with Tanya discussing the groupâs needs, them formulating the training.
Youâll enjoy the beautiful countryside, riding trails free of traffic, authentic local cuisine, and relaxing atmosphere, too!
Youâll meet our foals! If your loved one loves horses, theyâll love meeting and interacting with our foals.
Your horse-lover will be delighted with a special trip to such a scenic part of France. Lot has many tranquil riding routes in beautiful countryside, and you wonât have to worry about traffic in the way you do in some parts of the UK.
There is plenty to see on our doorstep â from stunning walks along the river to visits to the prettiest villages in France. See our blog on some of the most beautiful villages in France here.
Youâll find some of the best cuisine in France. From mouth-watering local melons to tasty local recipes, our chĂąteau gives you a true taste of authentic Lot. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy it â we cook and prepare all your meals. Find out more about the cuisine here.
Weâre English-speaking owners who are fluent in French. Weâre here to help you have the smoothest trip possible and our language skills could prove useful.
You can book your surprise present online â thereâs no need to fight through the crowds to look for something special. Thatâs a huge bonus when weâre all so busy.
Enjoy relaxation and a little luxury
Visiting our chĂąteau is like stepping back in time.
It has the original central stone staircase and several wonderful examples of 16th Century fireplaces.
Set within a hundred acres of land, the chĂąteau has breath-taking views, a swimming pool, a manege, and a cross-country course.
The stable block is also conveniently close to the house.
A riding holiday in ChĂąteau de LaumiĂšre gives you relaxation, good food, and luxurious accommodation.
Ready to book your 2018 break? If you book before the end of December, weâll fix it at this yearâs price. You can check out our prices here.
France is famed for its delicious dishes and succulent ingredients â and the huge diversity of its regional cuisine.
Visitors to the ChĂąteau de LaumiĂšre will be able to sample the authentic taste of the Lot during their stay. Here are a few of the dishes and ingredients which will tempt your taste buds:
This is a dish typical of the Occitane region, which originated as food for pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostella in Galicia.
Itâs a fondue-like combination of mashed potatoes and cheese made with butter, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and cream. It has a smooth and elastic texture.
It is often made with Tomme de Laguiole or Tomme dâAuvergne cheese, though mozzarella and cantal can be substituted for them, and it is a dish beloved of local people in the area. Often, it is served with roast pork or Toulouse sausages and Auvergne red wine, and is a favourite at village celebrations and in street markets.
The dish originally included bread instead of potatoes, before the vegetable was introduced into France.
Most French regions have their own speciality summer salad â such as salad Nicoise on the Riviera.
The Quercy is the ancient province which combines the Lot, part of the Tarn, and part of the Garonne.
In the Lot area, you will find the delicious speciality salad is Quercynoise, with locally-grown walnuts as the essential element of this dish.
It is often served as an hors dâoeuvre with winter meals as well as a light lunch or side salad in summer.
Our version of the salad consists of lettuce with a vinaigrette dressing, jambon du pays (traditionally-cured ham), sliced smoked magret de canard (duck breast), lardons, gesiers (gizzards), walnuts, hard-boiled egg, and tomatoes.Â With the addition of a slice of foie gras on toast, it becomes a Gourmand Quercynoise.
Quercyâs clay and limestone soil and warm climate is perfect for growing mouth-watering melons.
The clay helps the melons retain water and feeds them vital nutrients. They are often grown by small, family farms and they are a key part of the local economy.
They have banded together to form the Interprofessional Syndicate of Melon du Quercy, allowing the area to gain official recognition for the quality of its melonsas a Protected Geographical Indication.
Every fruit is identified by the Melon du Quercy sticker, and its orange-coloured flesh shows it is high in vitamin A. It is also a good source of vitamins B and C.
France is famed for its duck dishes. They include magret de canard (or duck breast) and cuisse de canard or confit de canard (a duck leg cooked slowly and preserved in duck fat).
Foie gras is also a sought-after addition to several French dishes.
Often, duck gizzards cooked in duck fat (a confit) are added to salads.
During the summer, highly-prized white truffles are sold in the markets of the Lot region. They are often served grated in omelettes or with foie gras.
Time to plan your next riding holiday in France?
Take a look at our prices and our availability here.
Whether youâre walking or on horseback, Lot is a wonderful place to see wildlife during your French riding holiday.
You could see all sorts of animals – from mammals and birds to insects and lizards.
The area has excellent natural habitats including woodlands, grasslands, and small areas along the River Lot where people once washed their clothes. They have now become mini wildlife sanctuaries, attracting all sorts of animals.
Here is some of the wonderful wildlife you could see during your stay:
Roe deer, known as Chevreuil in France, are a wonderful sight for our visitors. At certain times of the year, you will see them grazing in the fields.
You may be fortunate enough to spot a loirs, a large dormouse also known as the glis glis. Although their population is spread across rural France, they are not common.
The rare putois, a polecat, lives off frogs and small mammals and has been found across France. You may be lucky enough to come across this nocturnal relative of the ferret and otter.
Wild boar have been spotted across France. It is estimated there are two million of them in the country, and they tend to congregate in areas where agricultural land meets woodland.
Pine martens, known as martres in French, live in woodland across the French countryside, and you may well see red squirrels – now a rare sight in most of the UK.
There is a wealth of insect life including the praying mantis, green scarab beetles, Be crickets or cri-cri in French, grasshoppers, bees, wasps, and moths and butterflies such as swallowtails and hawk moths – especially the humming bird hawk moth.
You may well see some lizards. Small brown lizards are relatively common, skittering around in the undergrowth. Although salamanders are rare, you may spot them. Treat them with respect â they are a protected species.
The bird life of Lot is rich. Youâll probably hear owls, including the Scops owl, cuckoos, and nightingales during your stay. You may spot marsh harriers, black redstarts, buzzards, or kites, and some visitors have reported seeing short-toed eagles flying above the limestone cliffs near Rocamadour. Many are keen to see a hoopoe, a small bird with an exotic look which is the size of a mistle thrush. Itâs distinctive pink-brown body and crest, black and white wings, and black, downcurved bill make it simple to spot. These are rarely seen outside the very south of the UK, but are far more common in France.
Is it time to book your next riding holiday in France?
If you book next yearâs stay before the end of December, we will fix it at this yearâs price.
Whether youâre a horse rider looking to make the most of your time in Lot or countryside lover holidaying with an equestrian, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
From getting around on bikes or on foot to enjoying drifting along the River Lot in a kayak, here are some of our suggestions:
For an easy 4km walk which takes an hour, take a 30-minute drive to the village of Arcambal where you will discover the banks of the Rover Lot, the village, and the medieval castle. Find out more here.
Youâll find an intermediate walk 5km away from Promilhanes in Limogne-en-Quercy.
The Malecargue Fountain Circuit is a 10km walk which takes three hours and 15 minutes.
It starts outside the Maison des Associations, a large white building, and the route takes you through the hamlet of Mas de Charrou where there is a distinctive dovecote tower.
Youâll also see the Bouzou fountain, an old windmill, and the Malecargue fountain.
The route also gives you the opportunity to spot the flora and fauna of Lot. Find out more here.
For stunning views and a five-hour, 50km walk, take the path from Arcambal to Saint Cirq-Lapopie, then follow the towpath carved from the cliff face to BouziĂšs and back to the start.
Or, you could cut the time and length you walk by starting and ending your walk in Saint Cirq-Lapopie.
Talk to us about local walks around our base in Promilhanes.
The Lot Valley is paradise for cyclists.
The countryside is beautiful but less busy than the popular Dordogne to the north.
There are several fine cycling routes near Cahors, which is a 40-minute drive away from Promilhanes, and from Lamothe to Saint Cirq-Lapopie, where there are stunning vistas between rocky outcrops and the chance to visit the small towns of St Gery and Vers before ending the tour in one of Franceâs most beautiful villages.
There are options to suit all levels of cyclist â from those who prefer a sedate ride to thrill-seekers who are looking for off-road cyclins and hilly routes. We have many parents or partners of horse riders who like to explore the countryside on two wheels. Ask us for our recommendations for routes close to our base.
Kayaking or canoeing
At nearby Villefranche de Rouergue, there is a water sports centre which offers kayaking and canoeing on the Aveyron.
The site also offers boat hire and boat tours of the river which offers gorgeous scenery along its banks.
The Averyron river offers 300km of navigable white water, with sports including rafting and canyoning also on offer for the adventurous.
Lot has some of the prettiest towns and villages in France, perfect for a visit during your riding holiday.
Here are our top 5:
Visit the narrow, picturesque streets of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. In 2012, it was voted âThe Favourite Village of the Frenchâ and has been awarded the status of being one of the most beautiful villages in the country.
Part of the village is a listed monument, and it is an excellent village to wander around on foot.
The streets are lined with buildings made from golden-coloured stone. Many are charming craft shops or art galleries.
Art-lovers should visit the Rignault Museum, named after the painter and collector who was the siteâs owner in the early 20th Century. It has temporary exhibitions of contemporary and modern art alongside the museumâs own collection.
You can also visit its impressive Gothic church built in 1522.
The village clings to cliffs 100 metres above the River Lot, and there are impressive views.
Look for the lock and mill of Aulanac, and the villages of Tour de Faure and Calvignac.
You can get fine views of the village itself by walking up the Peyrolerie.
Walk down to the river, and you can stroll along the tow path next to the river â a path which was carved into the rock face in 1847.
Look out for the beautiful reliefs carved on the rock walls of the towpath. They were created in 1985.
Along that towpath, youâll come to BouziĂšs.
It is known for its fine suspension bridge spanning the river between impressive cliffs.
Itâs a busy base for tourists taking trips along the river â an excellent way to see local villages. It is also a wonderful base for anyone looking to explore nearby caves.
Walking under fortifications created during the 100 Years War, youâll leave BouziĂšs under the âCastle of the Englishâ.
Nestled in the heart of Cahors vineyards, the medieval village of Puy lâEvĂȘque clings to a rocky promontory overlooking the River Lot.
Wander around its lanes and steps and spot its historic sculptures. There are streets named after its medieval trades â nail makers, dyers, and boatmen.
Walk down to the old quayside which was once abuzz with industry. At the top of the village, there is a 13th Century tower and the church of Saint-Sauveur, which dates to the 14th and 15th Centuries. Explore its Gothic nave.
You can take a boat trip or watch local ceramics being made.
Cahors is a town built by medieval merchants and bankers.
They were often used for farming and as pack horses because of their superior endurance, and were traditionally taken on a summer migration higher into the mountains â a practice which is being revived in the area.
There are records of small black horses in the area which go back to the time of the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.
They have been associated with famous historic figures include Charlemagne and Napoleon Bonaparte. They pulled the artillery used by Napoleonâs Grand Army in its Russian campaign.
Smugglers used these horses to haul their ill-gotten gains through the Pyrenees, they were used by miners, and at the end of the 19th Century they had become known as light cavalry horses.
Widespread cross-breeding had led to decline in the pure-bred population. So, in 1908 a local agricultural society too charge of the breed, creating a registry in 1933 and a stud book in 1948 under the control of the French National Stud.
As machines replaced horses in French agriculture, the population declined disastrously, putting the breed on the verge of extinction in the 1970s.
The caves opened to the public in 1926 and were classed as a historic monument in 1952.
In the seven chambers of the cave system, the walls show hundreds of breath-taking paintings of reindeer, woolly mammoths, bison, horses, and humans.
Some of the most touching images are those created when our prehistoric ancestors blew âpaintâ over their hands using a delicate spitting technique, creating outlines on the wall which we see to this day.
Fossilised footprints of children, who once ran through the then clay floors, have been discovered more than a half a mile underground.
Itâs believed the cave system was used for shelter during the Ice Age.
The area would have had a climate similar to that of the Arctic now, and its animal species were very different to those found in modern-day France.
The geology of the caves is also fascinating.
Visitors can see how they were formed and eroded by water over many thousands of years.
Youâll also marvel at the stalactites and calcite pearls in this amazing cave complex.
The number visiting the system is capped to ensure there is as little erosion as possible and that changes in gases underground caused by people breathing out carbon dioxide do not harm the beautiful cave paintings.
Visitors are advised to wear appropriate clothing and shoes for the conditions underground. The temperature is 12 degrees Celsius. There is also a discovery centre at the site. Find out more here.
Visit spectacular caves and drift along on an underground river
Youâll see more of Franceâs geological heritage at the Gouffre de Padirac, considered the most spectacular cave system in France.
There, a steep descent takes you 103m below ground to a boat trip on a turquoise underground river with spectacular views.
Youâll also discover a 60m high stalactite hanging âby a stringâ, and walk to find the most impressive cave ceiling in France in the Salle du Grand DĂŽme.
The awe-inspiring ceiling is 94m high.
Visitors are advised to book tickets in advance because it can become very busy and to be prepared for stairs and lifts. Discover more here.
Step into a lost world in an old mine
A former phosphorous mine is another underground wonder in Lot.
The Phosphatiere du Cloup dâAural, Bach, has been colonised by some surprising vegetation since the miners left the site in the 19th Century.
There are giant ferns and up to 13 different orchid species. It feels like walking through lush jungle.
The siteâs fossils have provided a rich insight into the areaâs prehistoric past.
Researchers have found more than 500 animal fossils dating back up to 34 million years. Visitors will learn about the prehistoric mammal the caducothĂšre, which resembled a rhinoceros.
Visitors are encouraged to take a 50-minute tour of the site.