Tag Archives: holidays

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?

 

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!

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

Fall For The Beautiful Charms Of Lot And Midi-Pyrenees This Autumn

A View to ShareSummer is drifting lazily into autumn; most of the year’s tourists have gently ebbed away for the season, leaving little behind but fond memories as they return our picturesque corner of France to the locals.

Which, we think, is a shame. Lot is rarely more beautiful than on a soft and warm early autumn day, when the turning leaves add a blaze of burnished gold to the crests of the gently rolling hills.

Anyone who has read our blog will know that we have waxed lyrical about our wonderful and beautiful part of the world before. And you’ll also know that we believe the best and most relaxing way to soak up all the scenery is from the saddle.

But there’s still plenty to do even when you’re not on horseback; even now, when the long, hot summer of festivals and events has wound almost all the way down.

There’s still the natural and man-made beauty of our part of the world to enjoy – and it can stay pleasantly warm and sunny here long into October.

Well we would say that. We’re a little biased. We’re lucky enough to live here. We love it and we want to tell the world all about it, but don’t just take our word for it.

Earlier this year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published the results of a global study into quality of life. And the Midi-Pyrenees, the region to which Lot belongs, was found to be the best place in France to live.

The medieval streets of Cordes-sur-Ciel. An astonishing place, whatever the season
The medieval streets of Cordes-sur-Ciel. An astonishing place, whatever the season
Our part of the world also boasts more astonishing historical places to visit than it is possible to shake several sticks at, let alone one.

Cordes-sur-Ciel – the beautiful medieval town that’s less than 30 minutes from Château de Laumière by car – has recently been named the best town in France by viewers of the country’s national TV channel France 2.

The history books and Wikipedia will tell you that Cordes-sur-Ciel sits atop a hill in the northeast corner of our neighbouring Midi-Pyrenees’ department, the Tarn. They will say that it is a well-preserved fortified town that was built in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse, who, though not a Cathar, tolerated what other Catholics considered a heresy.

Imposing: The first view of the ancient town of Cordes-sur-Ciel in the Tarn
Imposing: The first view of the ancient town of Cordes-sur-Ciel in the Tarn
They won’t tell you will need to have an ice pack to hand to soothe your chin after it hits the floor when you first cast eyes on the place. As you walk along cobbled streets that have been there for nearly 800 years, gazing at buildings that have stood for almost as long, looking out over a landscape that has been there for aeons, you’ll realise, as the pain in your chin recedes, that you’re somewhere truly special.

Then, a little further along, sitting in a plain of beautiful French countryside and protected from view until it’s ready to take your breath away, is the episcopal city of Albi, one of several UNESCO World Heritage sites close to Château de Laumière.

This is where we live. And, honestly, it’s hard to think of better time to be here than early autumn. So, if you can make the most of the October holidays, join us at Château de Laumière and enjoy this part of France – away from all the tourists.

What’s The Best Way to See Rural France Whilst on Holiday?

Rural FranceFrance is blessed with having about twice the land mass of the United Kingdom, whilst the population remains approximately the same (65 million people in 2014 as opposed to the UK’s 63 million citizens).

Much of this population is concentrated in the big cities and towns, especially in the north, rather than spread out among vast dormitory towns and super-sized villages like in the UK.

The result is that much of France is still rural and is unspoilt by modern industrial developments. This is especially the case in our part of Southern France and also in many of the central regions. It is no surprise that France is such a popular holiday destination for tourists from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands looking to escape the bustle of city life back home.

So, what is the best way to see rural France and make the most of your holiday? There are several options…

Rural France by Train

France has an excellent train service linking all parts of the country to its central hub in Paris. Many historic French market towns, such as Avignon, Le Mans and Auxerre can be reached in just a few hours from the capital. However, many of the more remote areas are still a fair distance away from the nearest train station.

Rural France by Campervan or Caravan

The Caravan Club has over 140 caravan and camping sites across France offering excellent facilities, as well as innumerable smaller privately run sites. This makes France a great location for holidaymakers looking to tour the country with their own caravan or camper van from the UK, or one hired in France on arrival.

Rural France on Foot

France is crisscrossed by a well-marked and maintained network of 37 national hiking trails running the length and breadth of the country. For a back packer these include some unforgettable long distance trails through diverse and stunning countryside. The trails also offer short excursions for weekend walkers and day trippers.

Rural France by Horseback

In our opinion, France is one of the finest places in the world to take an equestrian holiday. No form of transport offers a more peaceful means of exploring rural France. What is more, the French countryside is so much more accessible to horse riders than rural areas in other parts of Europe. In many areas horse riders have extensive access to farmland, and a network of bridal paths and quiet rural roads mean that riders can amble for hours without ever coming across a vehicle, or even another person.

However you choose to explore rural France, make it your choice for a rural getaway this summer. Once you’ve been once, you may find yourself coming back year after year.

More information about our location in rural France.