Tag Archives: Château

Why should you book a French riding holiday in June? Here are 3 excellent reasons…

Riding holidays in France
A bee orchid

There’s 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:

  1. You’ll 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 – a small, purple orchid which blooms on the roadside in the Lot Valley. Look out for this from mid-May onwards.

Greater butterfly orchid – lovely white flowers which look like small butterflies, growing in a V formation. They love sunny woodlands.

Lesser butterfly orchid – 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 – grows on verges and roadsides and is often mistaken for the larger bee orchid.

Bee orchid – a soft, pink flower which is seen in meadows and pastures in June.

Man orchid – a rare bloom found in the High Causse and in flower in June.

Red helleborine – grows on the edge of woods and flowers between April and June. Look for these flowers in the Foret de Braunhie.

Dark red helleborine – a rare flower which comes into bloom in late June. Look for it in rocky limestone in the High Causse.

Chalk fragrant orchid – a pink flower with a lovely scent, look for it in grasslands in June.

Common spotted orchid – flowers well into June. This flower loves chalk grasslands so look for them in fields and meadows.

Frog orchid – 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 – a flower found on acidic soils including peat bogs and marshy pastures which is seen in June.

Bird’s nest orchid – lives in leaf litter in beech woodland and comes into flower in May and June.

  1. You’ll enjoy pleasant weather

It won’t 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 – you won’t face searing temperatures. Plus, you’ll 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.

  1. You’ll 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 – 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.

 

 

Meet the Normandy Cob on your riding holiday in France – a horse with bags of personality!

Horse riding holidays in France
Dunka and Bamboo, our Normandy Cobs

If you’re 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 Français.

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.

Bamboo is schooledMeet our Normandy Cobs…

Dunka – 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 – 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? They’re ideal horses to develop your riding skills because they’re calm and friendly. Book your French riding holiday today. You can contact us here.

Bamboo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magical May: The Perfect Time for an Early Riding Holiday

Have you returned to work after the Christmas break yet?
The festive holidays are wonderful – filled with loving family and friends, good food and general merry-making. But, whether your answer to our top-of-the-blog question is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, the impending return of Real Life™ is always there, lurking in the background.
Dappled shade and perfect peace and quiet on one of the horse riding trails near Château de Laumière
Dappled shade and perfect peace and quiet on one of the horse riding trails near Château de Laumière

There’s no wonder holiday companies are touting their wares on the TV and internet right now – the promise of another break from Real Life™ is what keeps many people going in those cold and wet and dark and personal battery-draining winter months.

So, how about this?
At the luxurious and tranquil Château de Laumière we welcome guests for horse riding holidays from the end of April.
It is a magical time of year in our little corner of southwest France. The sun shines often. It is pleasantly short-sleeved-shirt warm. The sky is usually that clear and utterly enviable shade of touched-up picture-postcard blue.
In fact, late spring here is so magical that we have blogged about it before. We meant it when we wrote that blog post last year. We still do.
In May, daffodils fill the fields in cheery gold and white, and beautiful orchids turn quiet roadside verges into a riot of colour. Meanwhile, exotic and wonderful birds fill the sun-warmed cornflower-blue skies as deer, boar and red squirrels patrol our dappled green forest trails.
6(1)Imagine getting away from it all somewhere like this. Imagine forgetting the hustle and bustle and rush of the real world. Imagine waking up to another perfect day. Imagine feeling deliciously warm sun on your face. Imagine riding a carefully chosen horse on a carefully planned hack through enchanting sleepy French villages and unspoiled, tree-filled countryside.
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to imagine it. You’re more than welcome to join us here at Château de Laumière and enjoy it all for real. And don’t forget – if you hurry and book your luxury horse-riding holiday at the château before the clock strikes midnight and the strains of Auld Lang Syne ring out on December 31, you can enjoy your 2016 holiday in our peaceful and beautiful corner of southwest France at 2015 prices.

A Warm, Wonderful Summer with Friends Old and New

The trees along the trails near Château de Laumière are turning
An autumn ride near Château de Laumière

We have enjoyed another super summer at Château de Laumière. But now, as crisp autumn in our little corner of French paradise adds a beautiful blaze of burnished gold to the trees, we’re busy settling down for the winter after a busy holiday season.

The chateau’s friends and guests – for that is how we think of you all – have all now headed home, leaving lasting, fond memories.

It has been our immeasurable pleasure to welcome so many of you back to Château de Laumière for another holiday – not to mention all the new friends who stayed with us for the first time. We hope you all had a wonderful time here, and we look forward to welcoming you again soon.

In fact, previous guests who book their 2016 holiday with us before the end of October can stay here at this year’s prices plus five percent discount.

We can pretty much promise that the weather will be kind next year. It is very easy to be lucky with the elements here, and summer 2015 was no exception.

Sandra & NollieThe sun shone bright and warm for most of the time and the sky was that lovely cornflower blue that looks as if it has been touched-up in photographs. It was, on the whole, another perfect summer for exhilarating morning rides through the quiet Lot countryside, followed by lazy, restful afternoons by the pool. It’s safe to say that the weather did its bit in making so many holidays so special.

The scenery, too, continued to exceed expectations. It is genuinely beautiful here in the gentle, rolling hills of our corner of Lot, where enchanting villages give way unfussily to unspoilt tree-filled countryside. But, of course, you’d know all about that if you have stayed here.

There is, of course still plenty to do at the château, even though it is no longer holiday season.

Tanya checks out a possible new route
Tanya checks out a possible new route

Our riding school is open all year, even when the château is closed, and the horses – who give our guests and friends so much pleasure throughout the summer – need plenty of care and attention.

Meanwhile, Tanya has been out exploring more of the stunning countryside surrounding the château, in search of more routes for you to discover. She has uncovered a couple of routes for next year that she believes will be very special – although she has sworn us to secrecy for now. All we can say is that she’ll let us reveal a few details later. Hopefully, sooner, if we can persuade her.

If we can’t talk her round, you’ll have to discover them for yourselves next year. Just don’t forget about that special offer if you book before the end of October!

Gone Fishing

We regularly boast about the gentle, peaceful beauty of the little corner of southwest France that surrounds Château de Laumière, 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.

Lac de Banac
Lac de Banac

We’re 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 anyone’s 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 Château de Laumière – 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.

fishingYou 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 plane’s 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.

For more information about fishing in Lot, log on to Pechelot website here. Don’t forget, we’re not far from the Tarn either. The pechetarn website is here.

Don’t Miss This Offer!! There is still some availability in May

The pound is at present getting even stronger so we can pass on some great savings to you for the limited availability we still have in May.

The weather is getting better by the day – May is a really great month for riding here and the countryside for our riding is truly wonderful. You can now ride every day if you want to and the relaxing side of your stay with us is as good as ever.

So come on do it now before it’s too late! Send an email with your dates and we will come straight back

There's a horse in the stables just waiting for you
There’s a horse in the stables just waiting for you

Here’s one New Year’s resolution that will be easy to keep

A (slightly belated) happy Christmas and heartfelt wishes for a wonderful New Year from everyone here at Château de Laumière.

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 Year’s Eve.

For many people, it’s 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 it’s 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.

4At the luxurious and tranquil Château de Laumière, 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 you’re not on your horse taking in the perfect riding country, or enjoying the delicious meals prepared for you at the château, 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 it’s the perfect recipe for a holiday. We hope you do, too.

And don’t forget – if you book your luxury horse-riding holiday at Château de Laumière before you go out for your New Year’s celebrations on December 31, you can enjoy your 2015 holiday in our peaceful and beautiful corner of southwest France at 2014 prices.

There. That’s one resolution successfully fulfilled – and before New Year, too.

A Nostalgic View Of May From December

Christmas is coming; the nights are closing in,
Big coats are needed…
And gloves, hats, scarves and things.

Cowslips carpet the fields around the chateau
Cowslips carpet the fields around the chateau

It’s probably fair to say that we won’t 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 Château de Laumière, it also has made us a little nostalgic for the feel of the warm spring sun on our faces.

 

The château 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.

 

Pyramidal orchids are a common sight
Pyramidal orchids are a common sight

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 château 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 unusual-looking hoopoe
The unusual-looking hoopoe

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 Château de Laumière’s gardens.

 

Ornithologists will be delighted to discover that they’re 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…

 

A nightingale caught on camera by one of the chateau's guests
A nightingale caught on camera by one of the chateau’s guests

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.

 

There’s no wonder we’ve 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 it’s 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.

Château de Laumière’s horse-riding holiday checklist

6(1)It’s important to know what you need to pack to get the most a horse-riding holiday at Château de Laumière – especially if you haven’t been riding for a while, or if you’re planning your first equestrian break.

Here’s our checklist of what you’ll need to pack to get the most out of a riding holiday here.

Clothing

Hat: A riding hat that conforms to current British Safety Standards is vital – that’s why we ask you to bring your own. We insist that hats are worn all the time you’re on a horse, so you need to be totally comfortable and safe with the one you’re wearing. It’s best to bring one you know fits properly.

Boots: You should bring your own pair of long or short riding boots. Many riders who come here on holiday wear them on the plane – which seems very sensible, and saves vital space (not to mention, weight) in their case.

Trainers are not allowed. They are flat-soled and can slip through the stirrups.

Trousers: There’s a reason jodhpurs are the most comfortable trousers to wear on horseback, but any trousers that you find comfortable to ride in are fine.

Some people like to ride in jeans, but those side seams can rub – and you’ll soon know about it after a morning’s hack.

Shorts are, unfortunately, unsuitable for riding.

Shirts: Sensible tops are a must. Summers can – and do – get hot in Lot, so a shirt that covers and protects your shoulders is a good idea – short-sleeved cotton tops or polo shirts are ideal. They also provide a little extra protection from any low-hanging branches on the trails.

Creams: Speaking of the sun, we also recommend you bring some high-protection sun cream – and some insect repellent, too.

In case it rains: You will need a shower-proof jacket. Even in southern France, it does sometimes rain. Sorry. There’s nothing we can do about it.

Gloves / body protectors: If you usually wear riding gloves and / or a body protector, please do bring them along.

Non-riding style: When you’re not riding, you’ll soon discover that our beautiful corner of France is a pretty relaxed place.

6We make no demands on what you wear at breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Château – and, unless you’re planning a particularly expensive night out, there’s no need to bring that fancy little black number. Jeans, casual trousers, T-shirts, comfortable summer dresses are welcome almost everywhere.

Do I need anything else?

You can pretty much leave the rest to us.

You’re guaranteed the warmest of welcomes and the finest food at the beautiful Château de Laumière. We supply English tack, and our horses are all well schooled and highly adaptable.

Meanwhile, we’ve left it to the Lot department to provide a gorgeous backdrop. We think it’s done a remarkable job.

banacThe charming, rolling surroundings are perfect for just about every level of rider to explore. The only thing we ask is that you’re confident on a horse at all three paces – walking, trotting and cantering.

Hackers’ delight

The Lot department is picture-book France.

Riders can enjoy unspoiled, wooded countryside that boasts an abundance of wildlife – such as deer, wild boar, red squirrels, hares, buzzards and kites – dotted with enchanting villages.

As you round a gentle bend on one of the tree-lined chemins rurales that criss-cross the area, you may discover a splendid château or grand manor house, a centuries-old Priory or picturesque farmland that just goes on and on until it meets the sky.

Beginners’ luck

What if you’re a horse-riding novice, or need to regain a little confidence after a year or 10 out of the saddle?

No problem. We keep afternoons free, and you can easily arrange a riding lesson or two. They will offer non-riders a hint of what all the fuss is about, and help old riders remember all those skills they thought they had forgotten.

Hat… boots… shirt… trousers… you

That’s just about everything you need to enjoy a perfect equestrian holiday at Château de Laumière.

We’ll send you a little reminder of what you need to bring with confirmation of your booking, but this will get you started.

Special two-for-one offer on a week’s holiday at the Château

Riding TrailDo you fancy getting away from all the hustle and bustle of 21st-century life – even just for a little while? Does a week’s holiday in a centuries-old Château the tranquil countryside of beautiful Lot in France sound like the perfect antidote to your hectic life right now?

Gentle rolling hills… Cornflower-blue sky as far as the eye can see… Picture-perfect villages… The sound of silence… It’s about as far from the never-ending roar of modern life as it’s possible to get while still being in the same century.

We’d like to think your answer is “Yes!” already – but we’re biased, as we know what a wonderful, peaceful, relaxing place Lot is. But maybe we can make it sound even more tempting?

Our special offer

1How about this: we’re offering a special two-for-one deal on seven-day full-board holidays at Chateau de Laumiere for the week beginning Saturday, June 14, 2014.

You can take advantage of everything we have to offer. If you’re a rider, a morning hack along one of the miles and miles of car-free “Chemins Rurale” that Lot has to offer is guaranteed to help even the most tense of people unwind.

And food always tastes better when someone else has cooked it.

You’ll be able to enjoy our fine home-cooked meals, all lovingly prepared by Lynda, who uses locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.

Forget food miles. During the summer, you can measure the distance our vegetables and salad have travelled in feet. Literally. They come all the way from our own garden. Please remember to tell us if you have any special dietary requirements when you book.

And you can relax Tuesday afternoon away with a massage courtesy of our qualified masseuse Nadia.

Wednesday is a non-riding day. Why not explore somewhere a little further afield? Or just take the day as it comes, watching the world pass gently and peacefully and calmly by at the side of our outdoor pool?

SNCF’s special offer

5We’re not the only ones running a special offer, either.

On Monday, May 20, French train operator SNCF launched a cut-price intercity ticket promotion that takes in the week of June 14 to 21. Tickets can be bought for travel until June 26. Just log on to SNCF’s website for more information. If you need, it has an English-language section, which you can find here.

So, if you need a break but you don’t fancy flying, then let the train, Château de Laumiere and our horses take away your strain – even if your budget is perhaps a little tighter than you would like it to be.

To set your week’s R&R in motion, simply contact us.