Sep 12 2012
Trail riding in ‘La Dordogne’, France: the doorstep to Southern France
June 2012: Drove over 6 hours through sheets of rain with my sister wondering why we did not pack any professional horseback riding RAIN gear (cause I don’t own any? I live in Illinois and mostly get to ride in dry and sunny weather, showers here are usually short lived). BUT – a few hours before we reached our destination in the rural, and absolutely charming area of ‘La dordogne’, on the doorsteps to Southern France, the rain stopped. We arrived with beautiful sunshine and temps in the 80s. Perfect!
The first night at the Domaine des Garennes we enjoyed our first of many, delicious and lengthy dinners with our fellow riders from: the US, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. Food was home-cooked by beloved Isabell (who is also the guide for the star rides) and the wine from a neighbor-the best we had throughout our trip!
Trail riding in the south of France
The next day we started our horseback trail riding vacation with a casual, 2-3 hour ride around the farm. Beautiful countryside, with truffle plantations, magical forests and lush, green hills which invited to a little uphill canter. The next four days we spent in and out of the saddle, since parts of the trail required the horses to be hand-walked. The camaraderie among the group, the always knowledgeable and friendly guide Annabelle, and the beautiful area worked their charm. At night we were quite exhausted after having set up pasture and taken care of the horses. But never too tired to take the first drink of the night still in dusty breeches, a beautiful view of the picturesque French countryside right in front of us.
Horseback riding in Rocamadour
Me, being a bit of a cautious trail rider, since a bad trail riding accident 10+ years ago shattered my jaw, got more and more relaxed. The horses had seen it all, and my mount Isabell could not be bothered by trucks, tracks or any kind of commotion. The horses were so good natured, that we could easily ride up the steep streets (through a short tunnel!) into medieval Rocamadour, bustling with tourists and pilgrims alike.
Food and wine in France
Besides the actual horseback riding experience we truly enjoyed the great food. Usually three course lunches (of course followed by cheese, dessert and coffee) and four course dinners which could easy last 2 hours or more. We so enjoyed not only the food, but also the company and of course a few glasses of the excellent local wines.
Horseback riding vacation in Europe
The trip to the Domaine des Garennes cost me about Euro 1,125 (about $1,460.) Considering that this horseback riding holiday included the horses, accommodation, food and almost all drinks, this is money well spent.
This has been my second trip to this farm, the first 13 years ago doing the star rides-I will definitely go back. I’m a native of Germany, 40+, and have been living in the US for over 10 years. During that time I’ve been on several horseback riding vacations in Europe. This year’s trip to France was for sure one of the best I’ve ever taken.
For the love of horses
The Domaine des Garennes is such a special place and the people who work and live there have definitely so much heart. They are not in this business for the money, but for the love of horses and the well being of their guests. Salut!
This is a guest post by Astrid. Photos courtesy of Astrid.
If You Go:
Domaine des Garennes Tel: +33 (0) 553 51 0551
Souzet, 24590 Nadaillac