Tag Archives: France

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 great reasons to book your next riding holiday in France before Christmas

 

Rising holidays in France
Give your horse-loving relative or friend the best Christmas ever

Wondering what to buy the horse-lover who has everything this Christmas?

Look no further! Organising a riding holiday in France for 2018 would be a wonderful surprise for them on Christmas morning.

Plus, if you book your riding holiday for 2018 now, you’ll get it at 2017 prices. It’s a win-win situation.

If you need more reasons to book, we’ve come up with seven excellent

  1. Our horses are one of the best reasons to book with us. Our Arab/Mérens cross Hope was born at the château, and she has a wonderful character. Ayva, our Selle Français, is hugely popular with our visitors and we have traditional Mérens horses Nao and Mollie, half-siblings who are excellent examples of their breed. We have Spanish, Lusitanian, Andalucian, sports ponies, and a thoroughbred. Each has their own distinct character, and there is a horse to suit every rider. From kind and calm horses and ponies to horses experienced in dressage and events, you can view our horses here.
  2. You’ll meet our foals! If your loved one loves horses, they’ll love meeting and interacting with our foals.
  3. 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 won’t have to worry about traffic in the way you do in some parts of the UK.
  4. There is plenty to see on our doorstep – 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.
  5. You’ll find some of the best cuisine in France. From mouth-watering local melons to tasty local recipes, our château gives you a true taste of authentic Lot. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy it – we cook and prepare all your meals. Find out more about the cuisine here.
  6. We’re English-speaking owners who are fluent in French. We’re here to help you have the smoothest trip possible and our language skills could prove useful.
  7. You can book your surprise present online – there’s no need to fight through the crowds to look for something special. That’s a huge bonus when we’re all so busy.

Enjoy relaxation and a little luxury

Visiting our château 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 château 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 Château de Laumière gives you relaxation, good food, and luxurious accommodation.

Ready to book your 2018 break? If you book before the end of December, we’ll fix it at this year’s price. You can check out our prices here.

Get the true taste of Lot during your French riding holiday

French holidays
Quercynoise melons are famed for their quality

France is famed for its delicious dishes and succulent ingredients – and the huge diversity of its regional cuisine.

Visitors to the Château de Laumière 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:

Aligot

This is a dish typical of the Occitane region, which originated as food for pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostella in Galicia.

It’s 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 d’Auvergne 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.

Salad Quercynoise

Most French regions have their own speciality summer salad – 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 d’oeuvre 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.  With the addition of a slice of foie gras on toast, it becomes a Gourmand Quercynoise.

 

French riding holiday
Melons are grown widely in this area

Quercynoise melon

Quercy’s 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.

Holidays in France
Duck breasts

Duck

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.

Truffles

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.

 

 

The wonderful wildlife you could spot on your riding holiday in Lot

French riding holidays
You may spot a hoopoe

Whether you’re 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
Riding holidays in France
A praying mantis
  1. 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.
  1. 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 – they are a protected species.
  1. The bird life of Lot is rich. You’ll 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. It’s 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 year’s stay before the end of December, we will fix it at this year’s price.

You can check out our prices here.

Think of all the beautiful wildlife you could see in a stunning, relaxing part of the world.

 

 

5 of the prettiest villages and towns to visit during your French riding holiday

French riding holidays
The picturesque streets of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

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 ‘The Favourite Village of the French’ 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 site’s owner in the early 20th Century. It has temporary exhibitions of contemporary and modern art alongside the museum’s 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 – 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, you’ll come to Bouziès.

It is known for its fine suspension bridge spanning the river between impressive cliffs.

It’s a busy base for tourists taking trips along the river – 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, you’ll leave Bouziès under the “Castle of the English”.

Nestled in the heart of Cahors vineyards, the medieval village of Puy l’Evêque 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 – 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.

It has an impressive bridge, the 14th Century Pont Valentré fortified against the English in the 100 Years War, which has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

Cahors also has many medieval townhouses.

Its cathedral has a Roman-style entrance, attractive frescoes, and a cloister.

The Museum Henri-Martin tells the story of the town’s history in its artefacts.

Cahors is in wine country, so you will be able to buy excellent local wines, and it is famed for its beautiful gardens.

In Villefranche de Rouergue, founded in 1252 by Alphonse de Poitiers, there is a chequerboard network of streets all leading to the main square in the tradition of Bastide towns.

They were built on commerce and their position near the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostella.

There are arcades which are topped by Renaissance and Gothic houses. Visit the impressive Notre Dame Collegiate Church and the nearby Carthusian monastery completed in 1459.

Are you ready to organise your next French riding holiday? Book here.

 

 

 

Improve your riding confidence at our intensive Workshop Week

2If you have read this blog before, you will know that there’s no place quite like our little corner of southwest France for a riding holiday. We have everything here. The glorious weather. The stunning scenery. The mile-after-mile of traffic-free trails. And, of course, the wonderful surroundings of Château de Laumière.

But maybe you are looking for a more intensive riding experience. Not just a morning’s ride followed by a relaxing afternoon by the pool, but the chance to spend the entire day working with and handling the horses.

For one week at the end of May we’re offering an all-inclusive intensive riding workshop holiday. Here, as well as taking part in those long and leisurely daily hacks about which we have waxed lyrical before, you can enjoy a one-on-one training programme that is specially tailored to your needs.

Maybe you have had a fall, or a scare, that has hit your confidence in the saddle. No problem – you’re not alone. Tanya, who also plans all our hacks, is a highly qualified riding instructor with many years’ experience. She knows how to deal with matters such as this and can work through any confidence issues you may have calmly and sympathetically.

1Alternatively, you may feel that you lack experience handling horses. Groundwork is a fundamental skill – join-up, lunging, long-lining and work on the ground can bring enormous benefits to your confidence and riding. Our immersion course can help.

Or perhaps you want to work on your dressage or jumping skills. Whatever area you feel you need a little help or refresher with, we can help. That’s what our intensive all-inclusive Workshop Week, which runs from Saturday May 28 to Saturday June 4 is all about. Helping you improve your skills and confidence so that you can enjoy your riding even more.

And isn’t that the reason we all do this?

 

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!

Walking Back to Happiness

Wandern

Walking. Hiking. Rambling. Whatever you call it, it is a hugely popular pastime, that is easily accessible to many, many people.

In recent blog posts, we have discussed the variety of options and possibilities available for those who come to stay at Château de Laumière whose interests do not necessarily extend to riding a horse, but who may enjoy fishing or cycling.

The good news is that walkers of all levels will be delighted to learn that there are as many beautiful walks near the chateau as there are cycling trails or fishing lakes in our picture perfect corner of southwest France that nestles away from prying tourist eyes.

But we advise you to get your boots on, if you want to discover this wonderful part of the world before everyone else.

The region is fast becoming popular with walkers of all standards – and there really is no wonder. With its enormous network of well-marked higways and byways, it is simple to enjoy a different walk every day of your stay, or follow part of the famous and ancient pilgrim trail to Compostela. For an extensive list of suggested walks, click on the Tourism Lot link here.

Whatever you are looking for, you will find the corner of the Lot near Château de Laumière offers a welcoming environment for all levels of walkers. Many trails follow ridges or plateaux and most ascents or descents are quite short – though they can on occasion offer something of a challenge.

Meanwhile, if you are worried about walking on the roads here, don’t. It is so quiet that road walking is actually quite safe and a pleasant change from what you may have been used to. And, you’ll see some wondrous sights along the way – a pigeonnier here, a medieval church there, a historic town just beyond those trees…

In fact, the biggest problem you are likely to have is whether to stop to enjoy one particularly special view, or to carry on until you have crested the next hill, or rounded the next bend in the trail in case the next vista is even better (Hint: the next one is likely to be equally as impressive).

So, whether you plan to walk for just an hour or for several days, the beautiful Lot countryside is worth discovering step by step.