Are you still looking for that perfect Christmas gift for the horse-riding loved one in your life who has everything? How about a chĂ˘teau?
Weâre not joking.
Obviously, itâs impossible to fit an entire French castle under the tree (not to mention the climate-changing amount of paper you would need to wrap one) but we think we have come up with the next best – and much more eco-friendly – thing. A gift voucher for a luxury riding holiday at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re.
Wouldnât you love to see the look on your loved-oneâs face as they open a modest and unassuming envelope on Christmas morning to see something very special like this inside? It contains the promise of a relaxing holiday next year at our friendly and luxurious chĂ˘teau in the picture-perfect Lot, riding along beautiful and peaceful trails, through enchanting villages and unspoiled tree-filled countryside.
A holiday here wonât break the bank, either. If you book your 2016 holiday at the elegant and tranquil 400-year-old chĂ˘teau before the end of December, you and your loved ones can enjoy a relaxing luxury equestrian break at 2015 prices.
Alternatively, if you have already catered for everyone else this Christmas, how about treating yourself? Surely you deserve a little luxury you-time about as far away from the daily stresses and strains of real world as it is possible to get?
Remember: if you book your 2016 horse-riding holiday before December 31, 2015, you can look forward to a wonderful break in France next year at this year’s prices.
Put the words âcyclingâ and âFranceâ together in a sentence – and the mindâs eye almost inevitably focuses on the Tour de France.
With good reason. The worldâs best-known long-distance multi-stage cycle race is, according to organisers, the third biggest sporting event in the world behind the Olympic Games and football’s World Cup. Whether thatâs true or not – the Rugby World Cup makes a similar claim, after all – doesnât really matter. In France, Le Tour is a big deal.
And this year, it is coming to our little corner of southwest France.
Stage 13 finishes at Rodez, the ancient capital of the Gaulish Ruteni tribe, and is not far from ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re on Friday, July 17. Stage 14 gets under way in the beautiful city the following day.
That weekend, the area will be packed with cycling fans basking in the unique glory of one of the worldâs greatest sporting events.
Like horseriding guests, cyclists can escape from hustle and bustle of the 21st century into a tranquil tapestry of peaceful car-free trails, known as âvoie vertsâ and meander through shady woods where warming sunlight plays through the gentle green canopy under a cornflower-blue sky.
Meanwhile, sports cyclists – who may be want something a little more taxing than a gentle ride out along quiet country lanes – will be delighted to learn that we have our fair share of testing stretches and hills as steep as you want them around here. If it’s good enough for Le Tour…
And, if you do take to two wheels on the roads of France, you’ll be delighted to know that cyclists are well looked-after here. Bike-riding guests at the ChĂ˘teau have often commented on the fact that cars and lorries here will give you plenty of space – unlike the UK, where you’re always battling inconsiderate drivers for a tiny bit of space on the road.
Fans of off-road biking are well catered-for, too. All the wild terrain you could possibly wish for is within easy reach.
And itâs easy to hire everything you need. There is an excellent cycle shop in Limogne-en-Quercy, about 4.5km from ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re, which rents out new and well-serviced road bikes, touring bikes and mountain bikes. We believe his rates are very reasonable.
Even better, the owner will deliver and collect your bikes from the ChĂ˘teau, so that all you have to do is turn up with your cycling shorts and helmet. Click here for the shopâs website.
We regularly boast about the gentle, peaceful beauty of the little corner of southwest France that surrounds ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re, and how it is the perfect location for a holiday hack along mile after mile of peaceful, car-free trails, under a warm sun in cornflower-blue skies.
But we also know that not everyone rides horses.
Weâre often asked if there is anything non-riders can do here. The answer is plenty. The trails our horse-riders can enjoy are also open to walkers and cyclists, while the area is dotted with bustling towns and picture postcard villages that, quite simply, will take anyoneâs breath away.
One of the most common questions for our non-riding guests concerns concerns fishing. Is it any good here? To which the honest answer has to be: No – fishing is not any good here.
It is much, much better than that.
We could wax lyrical about the quality of the lake and river fishing available just a 20-minute drive from ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re – from the gorgeous and well-stocked 15-hectare Lac de Banac, to the exceptional fishing on offer in the 15km stretch of the River Lot between Saint Cirque Lapopie and Cajarc.
We could list a few of the fish that could bite at your lure – which include black bass, pike, roach, carp, pike perch, chub, perch, tench, barbeau and rainbow trout.
We could even issue something of a fishing challenge by mentioning, almost by accident, that the largest carp ever caught in Europe was landed in nearby waters.
It is probably more sensible, however, to deal with a few practical matters.
You will need a licence – or carte de peche – to fish in France. Temporary licences for holiday fishing are available for a week, or even just a day, at a time – and they are not expensive.
You can arrange a licence yourself online by logging on to the cartedepeche.fr website. It has English, German and Spanish-language sections, and is pretty straightforward. If you have any questions, however, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.
If you are flying to France, the best advice is to check with your airline about what to do with all your fishing equipment before you arrive at the airport to avoid any frustrating delays. It is permitted on flights, but usually has to be checked into the planeâs hold – though certain articles may be allowed in hand luggage. Your airline will have all the information you need.
Once you have your licence (don’t forget to bring it with you, once you’ve downloaded it!) and have arrived at the chateau, everything will be in place for a perfect fishing holiday.
3rd – 6th April Why not give yourself a break from election fever and come to stay at Chateau de Laumiere with us for the Easter weekend
From arrival on Friday afternoon to departure after breakfast on Monday forget the world and immerse yourself in a few days of R & R. Read on for our special Easter programme:
Friday 3rd – settle into your room and look around the house and garden.
7.30 meet up for a chat and pre-dinner drinks around a log fire before going into a 4 course dinner with wine and coffee in our vaulted dining room.
Saturday 4th – leisurely breakfast between 9.00 and 10.00 am
Spend the rest of the morning winding down with a walk around the village and surrounding countryside or just relax in front of the fire.
12.30 lunch then a little later an afternoon ride and back in plenty of time before drinks as usual followed by dinner.
Sunday 5th – breakfast between 9.00 and 10.00 am followed by a trip to a typically French market in Limogne en Quercy from where you will be collected at around 11.30 and taken to Monique’s (our favourite local restaurant) for a traditional French Sunday lunch.
Return to the chateau for an afternoon ride. Then a break before drinks and dinner as usual.
Monday 6th – breakfast between 8.00 and 9.00 am before departure.
Fully inclusive price for the above: Â Â Â ÂŁ495 rider Â Â Â Â ÂŁ395 non rider
Don’t forget none of the above activities are compulsory – It’s your break so your choice
** Depending on your travel times there will be a morning ride on Monday followed by lunch if you would like to take it at an additional cost of:
Ride – ÂŁ50 per person
Lunch – ÂŁ30 per person
If you wish to stay for longer contact us with your dates for an all inclusive price
We have started preparations for April 25 already and are looking forward to seeing you all this year.
New Rides – Tanya and I are out as much as possible exploring even more of the countryside around putting together some new rides and additions / variatons to existing ones.
The riding will be different this year as you will now be able to ride every day of the week if you want to. Of course, those of you who like a day off to take it easy can still do so whenever you please – don’t forget you are the important one here because it’s your holiday.
Other additions –
Tanya is spending quite a lot of time with the Exmoors and having drawn up a plan is now chasing Chris to build an agility course. We a very exited about this as there is quite a lot of local interest in it and if all goes according to plan we hope that some of you would maybe like to join in on the odd afternoon. The ponies appear to really enjoy it and are accepting the new challenges very well.
Cross Country also in the pipeline are renovations to the cross country course which in favourable ground conditions will be available for an afternoon workshop.
Dressage Tanya is starting to compete in dressage again attending the early competitions this year and taking two of her regular pupils with her as well. If any of you would like to take advantage of this renewed enthusiasm you can include some additional training help in your time here with us
Natural Horsemanship Just a reminder that Tanya has several years of training and experience in this. All of our youngstock are handled and started using natural horemanship technics.Â To improve your bond with your horse while you are here – why not try a join up
Changes to the weekly programme – whereas before other than breakfast Wednesday was a non riding, lunch or dinner day Â NowÂ there will be a ride with lunch when you return as all other days. There will not, however, be dinner Â ButÂ for anyone not wanting to go out there will be a buffet supper available
Continuing popular events
Relaxing massage – as usual Nadia will arrive complete with table, music and oils on Tuesday afternoon to smooth away all your aches and pains. This is not compulsory but highly recommended by anyone who has had one previously! Naturally this is included in the price of your holiday
Lunch at Monique’s – Extremely popular and after a slightly shorter ride on Thursday you will return to the chateau for a quick change and off to the restaurant for a really good local meal which is also included in your holiday price:
Dessert / Cheese
Wine and coffee
After this return to the chateau where everyone generally disappears for a siesta somewhere shady.
Evening apperos – In the evening we all meet in the salon for a glass of wine (or an alternative of your choice) and a variety of nibbles for a very relaxed time before dinner to chat over the day, talk about anything you may want to do and generally get to know everyone. Don’t forget that for a special occasion – Birthday or Wedding Anniversay – our champagne appero makes this an extra celebration
Outside activities – there are many other activities to do and places to visit in easy reach of us and if you want help with any of them or general advice / directions just ask:
Cycling - there is an excellent hire shop in Limogne and he will deliver and collect the bicycles. Â Both road and off road
Canoeing - several rivers not too far away with companies supplying this. Full day, half day and shorter runs available
Fishing – for any Â keen fishermen who would ratherÂ fish than ride there is some of the best and most varied fishing in France in this area both lake and river. Indeed, this area currently holds the record for the largest carp caught in Europe. Here are some of the fish caught here:
Black Bass, Pike, Roach, Carp, Pikeperch, Perch, Chub, Tench, Barbeau and Rainbow Trout
aÂ temporary Â fishing license is simple to arrange and very inexpensive
Sightseeing - there are numerous towns and villages of interest within about half an hour’s drive and driving is easy here because there is very little traffic compared to the UK
Cahors is the main town of the Lot region with many old buildings, interesting little side roads to wander down, pavement cafes to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by, a weekly market and lots of excellent restaurants.
Villefranche de Rouergue is an excellent example of a 12th century Bastide and is the nearest town and again a very interesting couple of hours wandering round the buildings, shops and cafes.
Najac with it’s chateau on top of the hill is a wonderful place to visit and the view from the top is umnbelievable but definitely not a climb for the faint hearted
Saint Cirque Lapopie is a beautiful 12th century village just about 20 minutes drive. Â It really is like stepping back in time to wander through the tiny streets and to bring you back to present time there is a very good wine museum to take a look at. Â After that at the top of the hill there is a pretty good place for an ice cream!
I could carry on but it would become just too much to take in so you really need to come to stay with us and take a look yourself
A (slightly belated) happy Christmas and heartfelt wishes for a wonderful New Year from everyone here at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re.
We hope that you are enjoying the festive season. Did you have a white Christmas where you are?
Now the gifts have been unwrapped and the delicious Christmas dinner enjoyed, we have entered that leftover turkey-filled lull that precedes the night before the morning after that is New Yearâs Eve.
For many people, itâs traditional in the week between December 25 and January 1 to lazily browse the post-Christmas sales online, or doze gently in front of the big movie of the day after eating one (just the one) mince pie too many.
But itâs also a time for looking ahead. New Year is coming fast and, after all the festivities, it is all about change and improvements. Resolutions often focus on losing weight, or gaining fitness, learning a new skill, or taking up a new hobby. It may be something even more radical – planning a life-defining career change, for example.
Of course, some resolutions are easier to achieve than others.
Deciding on a summer holiday venue can be a very pleasant way to spend a few family hours between now and the fast-approaching day you have to return to work after the festive holidays.
Horse riders, like golfers, often want to include their favourite past-time in their holiday plans. That is where we come in.
At the luxurious and tranquil ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re, we pride ourselves on offering perfectly tailored horse riding holidays. You can while away hour after more-than pleasant hour trekking along miles and miles of pristine car and real life-free trails, surrounded on all sides by stunningly beautiful countryside.
When youâre not on your horse taking in the perfect riding country, or enjoying the delicious meals prepared for you at the chĂ˘teau, you can relax – drink in hand – by the pool or in the restful gardens, soaking up the sun in a cornflower-blue sky and gazing out over an idyllic landscape that only the Lot department of southwest France can supply.
We think itâs the perfect recipe for a holiday. We hope you do, too.
And donât forget – if you book your luxury horse-riding holiday at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re before you go out for your New Yearâs celebrations on December 31, you can enjoy your 2015 holiday in our peaceful and beautiful corner of southwest France at 2014 prices.
There. Thatâs one resolution successfully fulfilled – and before New Year, too.
Christmas is coming; the nights are closing in,
Big coats are neededâŚ
And gloves, hats, scarves and things.
Itâs probably fair to say that we wonât make a fortune writing verses for greetings cards – but while early December has brought a wintry chill to the air that has us dreaming of a cosy Christmas in front of a warm and crackling log fire at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re, it also has made us a little nostalgic for the feel of the warm spring sun on our faces.
The chĂ˘teau welcomes guests for horse riding holidays from the end of April – and those who are lucky enough to be able to arrive early in the season are treated to nature reawakening in the hidden Garden of Eden that is our little corner of southwest France.
By the time the first guests of the year arrive, wild daffodils envelope the surrounding fields in their cheery gold and white hues, and the trees are bursting with blossom.
Along the sides of the roads around the chĂ˘teau and in the fields purple orchids start to bloom in May, to be replaced in by swathes of pyramidals as the month progresses; while the pretty, delicate cowslip is everywhere.
Riders enjoying one of the morning hacks with Tanya in May will often spot wild deer or boar along the trails, while red squirrels – so rare these days in the UK – are a delightful and common sight.
Meanwhile, bird watchers will have a field day.
The wonderful hoopoes return in May from their winter migration and are usually nesting by May, and we normally have half a dozen nightingales serenading us in ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨reâs gardens.
Ornithologists will be delighted to discover that theyâre not the only birds to make their home in the chateau. A pair of barn owls nest here every year, while redstarts – which are as common as sparrows – compete with swallows for bird real estate in the stables.
Believe us when we tell you – location, location, location is just as important in the bird world…
In the fields surrounding the chateau throughout the summer from May, we often see cattle egrets, with their distinctive white plumage making them easy to spot in among the cows and grass – and buzzards, black and red kites, sparrow hawks, honey buzzards and kestrels patrol the skies looking for prey.
Thereâs no wonder weâve gone a little whimsical about May right now. You are, of course, welcome to join us next spring to enjoy the natural wonder.
Remember: if you book your 2015 horse riding holiday, whether itâs in May or any other time, before December 31, 2014, you can look forward to a wonderful and relaxing luxury equestrian break in France next year at this year’s prices.
Thereâs more to a horse riding holiday at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re than the perfect location, our idyllic and tranquil surroundings, the fine food and drink, or even the quality of the riding along wonderful trails in our little corner of the Lot department in southwest France.
Yes, we wax lyrical about these things regularly – but we also believe in the personal touch.
The personal touch adds that indefinable something that can turn a holiday, whether it involves horse riding or not, from good to great; from enjoyable to âDo we have to leave? Really?â.
We would say that, wouldnât we..? Everyone does. Itâs the holiday-venue mantra. But while, in some cases, the reality can be some way from the promise, at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re we mean it.
And we work hard to deliver on our promise.
Tastefully furnished luxury accommodation, a swimming pool with a view, freely available beverages and wifi internet access come as standard. As youâd expect.
Most importantly, though, we never forget what our guests are looking for – a complete break from their busy lives. To rest and relax, to ride a horse along mile after mile of beautiful and real-world-free trekking trails, and recharge your batteries, so youâre ready to head home refreshed and raring to go.
Itâs our job to make sure the holiday that youâve spent your hard-earned money on lives up to your hopes and expectations – and then some.
We only accommodate eight guests at the chĂ˘teau at any one time, so everyoneâs needs are given our full attention. It also means that itâs easy to find a little peace and quiet, if thatâs what you want.
Tanya, who runs the horse riding side of things, plans every hack carefully – and makes sure that youâre matched with the right horse which, If you havenât been in the saddle for a while, will come as a great relief.
Meanwhile, Lynda lovingly prepares all the meals, using local ingredients as much as possible. In fact, almost all the vegetables on your plate will come from the chĂ˘teauâs own garden, which means you can measure the environmental impact of your meals in metres rather than miles. And, of course, theyâre freshly picked, so theyâre simply bursting with flavour.
Lynda will also happily cater for anyoneâs special dietary requirements.
To us, the personal touch means much more than just providing a high standard of accommodation and facilities. It means caring enough to treat our guests as friends. And, at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re, we do just that.
If you are looking to get away from it all on horseback, the French countryside near Toulouse
is the perfect destination, says Nicola Green…
Landing on a Saturday in sunny Toulouse, France, was the ideal start to my first âgirlyâ family holiday with my sister, Helen, and Mum, Sue. It was a present to Mum â who was celebrating a major birthday â and a riding holiday at that.
An hour and a halfâs drive later, we pulled up at the impressive ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re. Going in search of owner Lynda, we bumped into her husband, Chris, who was busy bringing in horses. Originally from Kent, Lynda and Chris moved to France to retire. But then Lyndaâs daughter, Tanya, decided to move out with them bringing her horses and a holiday business grew.
Tanyaâs equestrian credentials are long and varied. As well as being a British Horse Society instructor, she picked up her French qualifications, becoming a âmonitrice dâĂŠquitationâ. Lynda cooks all of the meals, Chris looks after the vegetable and herb garden and all of the grounds whilst Tanya keeps the horse side running smoothly. We were shown to our accommodation â two en suite terrace rooms on the ground floor, one with a bath/shower and the other (as I discovered to my joy later on) with a fabulous power shower.
Both rooms were tastefully furnished and had tea-making facilities. There is a guest fridge, which is housed a short walk across the grass from the rooms, full of soft drinks, beers and wine. The downtime here is most pleasant!
We were given the option of grooming and tacking up our horses, and decided to make friends with our mounts by getting involved. Otherwise, Tanya would have prepared all four horses each morning â she will get eight ready if there is a full contingent of guests.
Each day followed the same routine. We were at the stables at around 9.15am, after breakfast. We rode out at 10am for about three hours, returning for lunch and some free time each afternoon before heading back to the chĂ˘teau for dinner. Tanya matched us with the right horses. In terms of ability, we were a mixed bunch, to say the least.
I rode every day as a child up until my late teens, working my way through Pony Club tests. But I hadn’t ridden for any length of time for 18 years. In addition, I had one of my legs fused straight two years ago, so have had to find a new way of balancing while on board. It turned out the few hours of hacking I had done in preparation for this trip were not really enough. Meanwhile, my sister, Helen, hadn’t ridden properly for 30 years, but got in the saddle regularly in the build up to our holiday.
My mum, Sue, was the fittest and best rider in our party, as she still has horses and rides every day. I was paired with 16hh chestnut gelding Boysie, who had been imported from Britain. Sue was given Nao, a 15hh black Merens, and Helen had Ayva, a 16.2hh chestnut. All three were kind to their nervous new riders. Hitting the trail our rides took us along quiet drover tracks.
Tanya plans every hack meticulously, with each covering between 20 and 25 miles. We had forgotten how hard it is on your muscles to trot for long periods. My legs and back were aching after three minutes of trotting, and itâs a wonder I stayed in the saddle at all during our first long canter!
Soaking up the scenery the varied riding took us past tiny stone sheepherdersâ shelters, ancient burial sites, pigeon lofts and stunning chĂ˘teaux. The tree-lined fields went on forever and we even spotted wild deer. We were struck by how quiet it was. Apart from our own voices, all we heard were the horsesâ hooves on the tracks and birdsong.
The hoopoe bird was particularly fun to watch, pottering around in the trees and bushes. Each ride â despite the rain, which was unusual for April â was peaceful and relaxing. I imagine in the sun it would have been even more idyllic. Hacking through the villages, it was wonderful to peek into the lives of people in rural France, even nosing into back gardens.
On our last ride, we took in a beautiful lake and passed locals fishing in the tranquillity. We wound our way around empty picnic tables that, in summer, are full of families enjoying the water. This day was also memorable for a glorious gallop. The horses were as good as gold, and didn’t take advantage of their not-very-experienced jockeys.
Riding in the mornings was enough for us, and there were plenty of things with which to fill the afternoons. It was easy to nip into the village in our hired car to find a tabac selling hot chocolate and wine, or visit the farmersâ markets.
On our final day, we had lunch at an internationally renowned restaurant. Lou Bourdie was featured on British television two years ago in one of Jamie Oliverâs cookery shows. On other afternoons we went to the stunning historical site of Saint-Cirq- Lapopie, took in the cave Pech Merle and popped into the town of Cahors.
There is a lovely swimming pool at the chĂ˘teau, though sadly the weather wasn’t warm enough for us to dive in. Guests have their own dining room and a living room available to use in the main house, as well as access to a library.
Wi-Fi is available, however, there is no TV or radio, which makes a stay here a real escape from normal life. Each morning, I woke to see mare Lucy and her newborn foal from my window. That alone made me feel lucky to be at the chĂ˘teau, away from it all.
A riding holiday can offer a wealth of benefits. There is the element of being outdoors, the physical exercise, the beautiful scenery, the connection with your horse and of course the enjoyment of being with other riders on a great vacation.
There are ways however, of making your adventure the very best that it can be. Below we explore five tips for making the most of your riding holiday.
1. Decide On The Type Of Holiday
Riding holidays come in all shapes and sizes, from genteel trekking through beautiful countryside to riding on the beach and then on to more athletic equestrian pursuits. It is important therefore to decide on the type of holiday you want before you even start looking.
You also need to take into consideration the location of the holiday. Do you want to go somewhere short haul like Southern France or would you prefer a holiday further afield?
2. Be Honest About Your Riding Ability
To fully enjoy your riding holiday, it is best to be totally honest about your horse riding ability. If you are a novice and need to gain confidence, then make sure that the holiday organisers cater for new riders and can offer horses that will be suitable. If you are a completely inexperienced rider, then you are also going to need some training when you arrive.
Alternatively if you are a very experienced rider you may want an experience that is going to challenge you a little more. Honesty is the best policy to ensure you get the most out of the holiday.
And of course, any additional riding you can fit in before your holiday to sharpen your fitness and technique certainly won’t do any harm.
3. Make Sure You Are Protected
Wherever you are traveling make sure that the riding holiday organisers hold the correct insurances and adhere to health and safety best practice. Any sport, horse riding being no exception, has its risks, and it is better to be safe than sorry. This is another good reason why you also need to check that your holiday company offers professional instruction from qualified Instructors.
In addition, when you take out your travel insurance, make sure that you declare you are going on a riding holiday so that you have the necessary protection.
4. Dress Correctly
Before you leave for your holiday check with the organisers what clothing and footwear you will need. Also find out whether they provide a hard hat or whether you need to take one of your own. Better to be prepared than to find yourself in a location where it is difficult to purchase the necessary equipment.
5. Enjoy yourself
Above all, the best way to make the most of your riding holiday is to have fun. A vacation is meant to be full of relaxation and enjoyable company so that you return home rested and rejuvenated. A riding holiday is no exception to this, but it also offers the bonus of letting you spend time in the saddle.
Ready to Ride?
If our top-tips have whetted your appetite to take a riding holiday then the first step is to check out our riding holidays here in the South of France. Head to our home page and browse through the information pages or if you’d like to get in touch, you can do so via our contact page.