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Horse-riding in the Pyrenees

Horse-riding near Puilaurens

One of the most interesting and beautiful horse-riding trips you will ever do with the combination of superb rides and stunning scenery in an area with a fascinating history.

Relax in one of the many sleepy bars as you sip a glass of local Corbières wine and take in the breathtaking views.

Set in the low foothills of the French Pyrenees, the Cathar trail links together a series of ancient ruined castles built by a religious sect against the 13th century Albigensian crusades.

The Aude department of France is an area of deep gorges and waterfalls, sun-drenched vineyards and forests of beech and pine, of jagged mountains and gentle green pastures. The scent of wild thyme, rosemary and lavender linger in the air as you brush past on your horse and the Mediterranean climate means reliable sunshine throughout the year.

Itinerary (8 Days / 7 Nights)

DayDescription
1

Arrival day.

Arrive at Granès during the afternoon. Get settled in then get to know your horse and guide for the week.
2

Granès-Puivert (5 hours).

After crossing the high valley of the Aude, we arrive at the plateau of Puivert. We visit the castle and stay overnight at the 'Relais des Marionettes'. Michel and Francoise make and sell puppets from their workshop at the gîte.
3

Puivert-Labeau (5-6 hours).

We cross the Picaussel forest amidst its giant pines. This region is famous as the base for the Maquis during WW2 and we visit the tiny museum with exhibits from the time. We arrive at the tiny hamlet of Labeau at the top of the valley with amazing views of the area. Patrice, our host, rears the Mérens breed of horse, well-known for their excellence and durablilty for trecking.
4

Labeau-Aiguebonnes (5 hours).

We follow the Rebenty valley then climb to visit the Chateau de Puilaurens, one of the finest Cathar castles. We then climb again to the gîte at Aiguebonnes (meaning 'good water' in the old Languedoc language. Collette and Christian run a cattle farm and Collette's home-cooked traditional food is a favourite amongst our clients.
5

Aiguebonnes-Bugamus (6-7 hours).

After crossing the Fenouillèdes valley with its small castles, we climb onto the plateau of Malbrac, at the foot of the Pech due Bugarach (the highest mountain in the area at 1231m). We then follow the Agly valley before climbing to a remote shepherd's cottage for the night at the foot of the Chateau de Peyrepertuse.
6

Bugamus-Bouchard (3 hourse).

After a vehicle ride to visit the castle of Peyrepertuse and a picnic, we rejoin our horses and ride on the to Domaine du Bouchard where they keep deer and wild boar.
7

Bouchard-Granès (5 hours).

We cross the domain then turn to pass the north side of the Pech de Bugarach and the 'white valley'. After a picnic beside the river, we follow the '4 ritous' valley which leads us back to Granès for a final night's celebration.
8

Departure day.

Leave after breakfast.

General

This tour is also possible as a self-guided option on any date to suit you. There is a minimum group size of 2 for safety reasons. The price is the same as we want to encourage you to use our guide and benefit from their experience and local knowledge.

The itinerary is slightly different and includes a local ride on the first day to ensure everything is right before you strike out on your own.

Our horses

Our Arab and Spanish crossbred horses, are specially trained for difficult terrain for which they have been bred. They are equipped with comfortable saddles and saddlebags.

Food

Traditional family food is prepared by our hosts (e.g. trout, grilled lamb, beef casserole) often complimented by products from the farm. We take midday picnic meal with us (e.g. salad, pizza).

Accommodation

We stay in comfortable gîte d'étape in dormitories. Private double/twin rooms (+£120 pp) or single room (+£210 pp) optional supplements. The accommodations are chosen for the position and charm as well as the personalities of our hosts.

Terrain

You should be at ease in the saddle and comfortable with trotting and galloping and be able to ride for 5-7 hours and walk for 1/2 hour.

Getting there

Arrival

Arrive at Granès on Sunday evening or at Esperaza rail station after 19.00 if you would like a free lift. Dinner will be at 20.00. Departure: Leave after breakfast on Day 8 (Sunday). You can also leave the night before. The end of the ride is around 17.00.

Flights and pick up

We can pick you up and drop you off at Carcassonne rail station or airport for a supplement of €24 per person each way. Flights with Ryanair from around £85 or much cheaper if you book early. For flight info visit Ryanair.

For those choosing the 'easy pickup' option, we meet the last incoming Ryanair flight from Stansted-Carcassonne and drop you back at the airport for the earliest group flight.

Alternatively, fly to Toulouse with British Airways, Air France, Flybe or other low cost airline. The train from Toulouse to Carcassonne costs around €12 and takes around an hour. A taxi from the rail station to the airport costs about €10 while the regular bus service is under €2.


Prices

Tour cost: £695
Bike hire: £0
Helmet hire: £0
Insurance: £32

Dates