If 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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re.
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.
Alternatively, you may feel that you lack experience handling horses. Groundwork is a fundamental skill â 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.
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 Lifeâ¢ is always there, lurking in the background.
Thereâs no wonder holiday companies are touting their wares on the TV and internet right now – the promise of another break from Real Lifeâ¢ 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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re 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 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.
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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re and enjoy it all for real. And donât forget â if you hurry and book your luxury horse-riding holiday at the chÃ¢teau 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.
We have enjoyed another super summer at ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re. But now, as crisp autumn in our little corner of French paradise adds a beautiful blaze of burnished gold to the trees, weâre busy settling down for the winter after a busy holiday season.
The chateauâs 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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re 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 yearâs 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.
The 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. Itâs 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, youâd know all about that if you have stayed here.
There is, of course still plenty to do at the chÃ¢teau, even though it is no longer holiday season.
Our riding school is open all year, even when the chÃ¢teau 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 chÃ¢teau, 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 sheâll let us reveal a few details later. Hopefully, sooner, if we can persuade her.
If we canât talk her round, youâll have to discover them for yourselves next year. Just donât forget about that special offer if you book before the end of October!
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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re 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 nearÂ ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re 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, donât. It is so quiet that road walking is actually quite safe and a pleasant change from what you may have been used to. And, youâll 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.
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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨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 ChÃ¢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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨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 ChÃ¢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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨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.
Winter doesn’t have quite the same sense of dread here as it did in England because it’s so different. Â Before we moved to this region someone said to me that here the sun shines every day and my response was ‘In your dreams!’ Â We all now know how unfair that comment was simply because what they said was true it really does. Â It’s sometimes not for very long but when it’s there it’s very bright and the sky is blue which makes everything feel better. At this time of year it gets very cold at night – at it’s most extreme it can go down to -15 deg.C at times during January & February – and the mornings are frosty and quite breathtakingly beautiful as it was this morning but when it’s like this the sun appears mid morning and by lunchtime when you look out of the window it’s a totally different world. The frost has gone and the temperature can rise by between 20 – 25 deg.C which is a huge amount and at times like this you can almost forget it’s winter. The photos above were taken at 8.45am, the following at around noon and OK it’s not so pretty withouth the frost BUT just look at that blue sky!
On the other hand, some people are just too busy with lunch!
There has been a lot of growing on the part of the foals and bonding on the part of the Exmoors since our last post.
The foals have now been weaned for several months and are revelling in the freedom of being out from under the watchful eye of mum. They are also growing at an amazing rate.
This photo was taken back in November when newly free from respective mums and very muddy!
Although very independent they still enjoy a visit from Tanya – especially if there might be a treat in store
The Exmoors are really becoming part of the family and from 4 very suspicious little individuals they have become very trusting and really quite affectionate. They still have a long way to go but their progress is very encouraging.
Galaxie – the youngest has taken to handling very quickly and become quite expert at long reining. Here she is showing Caroline and Lola how it’s done
Eider is the most independent of the group and although very Â friendly, unless it’s something she wants to do and is really in the mood for, at present, has the attention span of a gnat but with lots of time and patience from Tanya is getting there and will make it although just now we haven’t found where we think her real strength will be.
Dove from the beginning has been a real sweetie – friendly and wanting to be close. Tanya loves all of her horses like children but she’s only human and occasionally one gets just a bit closer and Dove is one of these.
Willow is the biggest surprise of all. At 10 years she is the eldest (well being mum to them all she would be wouldn’t she) and when she arrived she was pretty much unhandled. To say she was wild makes her sound a bit daunting so we’ll just refer to her as ‘natural’. Â She managed to remove her headcollar very early on and at first without cornering her, which we were’t prepared to do, there was no way that she was going to have it back on again so all of the work Tanya did with her was free. She started by just standing in the paddock until curiosity got the better of Willow and she would come very near to look, then she started coming close enough to take a treat and soon stood still for a while to be stroked all over. She didn’t want to come near the stables at first but Tanya started to bring the others in for a very short time each day and eventually she followed to look through the entrance door but wouldn’t come in. Then seeing that the other three were getting a handful of pony nuts she started to follow along just long enough to eat a few from the floor just inside the door. This progressed to entering the stable and letting us close the door while she munched on some hay. She now accepts the headcollar and being led in hand quite happily. With this bond between them Tanya has started working with some agility obstacles. Â Here is her first encounter with a tarpaulin sheet – we just couldn’t believe how she handled it.
So it’s all sysems forward now and onto the next challenges
A (slightly belated) happy Christmas and heartfelt wishes for a wonderful New Year from everyone here at ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨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 chÃ¢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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨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 neededâ¦
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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨re, it also has made us a little nostalgic for the feel of the warm spring sun on our faces.
The chÃ¢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 chÃ¢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 ChÃ¢teau de LaumiÃ¨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.