Tag Archives: France

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.

Get on your bike

The Tour de France is coming to Rodez, near Château de Laumière, this summer
The Tour de France is coming to Rodez, near Château de Laumière, this summer

Put the words “cycling” and “France” together in a sentence – and the mind’s eye almost inevitably focuses on the Tour de France.

With good reason. The world’s 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 that’s true or not – the Rugby World Cup makes a similar claim, after all – doesn’t 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 Château de Laumière on Friday, July 17. Stage 14 gets under way in the beautiful city the following day.

The beautiful cathedral at Rodez
The beautiful cathedral at Rodez

That weekend, the area will be packed with cycling fans basking in the unique glory of one of the world’s greatest sporting events.

Even without the added attraction of Le Tour, cycling is a wonderful way to discover our picture-perfect part of the world. And it is perfect for non-horseriders who want to make the most of a holiday at the Château.

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 ‘voie verts’ and meander through shady woods where warming sunlight plays through the gentle green canopy under a cornflower-blue sky.

Breath-taking views will greet cyclists around almost every corner
Breath-taking views will greet cyclists around almost every corner

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 Château 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 it’s easy to hire everything you need. There is an excellent cycle shop in Limogne-en-Quercy, about 4.5km from Château de Laumière, 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 Château, so that all you have to do is turn up with your cycling shorts and helmet. Click here for the shop’s website.

Photos: Akial, Geert Schneider, Denis

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.