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Experience the carefully planned week-long riding route in the beautiful rural corner of France! During the week, you will ride as your heart's wish on horses you would be pleased to call your own. The relaxed welcoming atmosphere of Le Bourdil Blanc will add a touch to your amazing, relaxing holiday with its unique house party atmosphere. Explore the stunning landscape and architecture at ease while Dordogne Riding gives you their best effort to make you feel at home!
Le Bourdil Blanc will be your home for the duration of your holiday. As you pass through the gates down the tree-lined drive, you will glimpse through the trees on the right the tennis court and swimming pool, and to the left, you will probably see one or two of the horses looking out from their stables in the barn. Le Bourdil Blanc is a beautiful 18th-century manor house, recently restored to its former glory and now a warm, friendly, and elegant home comfortably set in its own private grounds extending to over seven acres.
Aside from the pool, tennis court, and stable barn, the grounds also feature an ancient pigeonnier, and behind the house is a large meadow garden, a small fishing and boating lake, some lovely mature trees, all bounded by a delightful trout stream. From the house, one can enjoy beautiful views over woodlands and fields. Although Le Bourdil Blanc is a private house, all guests are encouraged to treat it as his or her own. Guests quickly settle into a 'house party' mode, relaxing around the log fire with a glass of wine and enjoying each other's conversation.
The heated swimming pool (12x6 meters) surrounded by ample space for sunbathing is open from dawn till dusk. For the energetic ones, the full size all weather surface tennis court is the ideal place to loosen up those stiff muscles. There is also a table tennis table for equally competitive tournaments.
You could try your hand at catching one of the fat carp in the lake or simply watch them from a rowing boat. The stables are only a stone's throw from the house, allowing for maximum bonding between horse and rider when the horses are overnighting at Le Bourdil Blanc. Totally relaxing, the hammock is available on a strictly first come first sleep basis.
A large entrance hall / study leads into the dining room to the left which seats 14 with ease, and on out onto the terrace overlooking the lake, perfect for evening drinks. There is a modern fully fitted and equipped kitchen complete with dishwasher, microwave and fridge / freezer). There are also a washing machine and separate dryer on the ground floor available for guests.
Leading off to the right from the hall is the marvelously spacious living room, with open fireplace, satellite widescreen plasma TV, and iPod dock. From the living room, the staircase leads to the first-floor landing where there are four large double bedrooms: with four double and two single beds, and four en-suite bathrooms. There are three air-conditioned double bedrooms, with en-suite shower rooms with water closets, on the second floor.
Dordogne Riding is convinced that if the horses could talk they would agree they enjoy riding weeks at Le Bourdil Blanc as much as you do. Home during their stay at Le Bourdil Blanc is a recently converted 18th-century barn with 11 deeply bedded, spacious loose-boxes. They also spend a great deal of time grazing in the paddock at the bottom of the lawn and paddling in the lake.
All the horses are responsive, biddable, and well cared for, and are carefully selected for each ride using the information given by riders on their booking forms. They are drawn from a pool made up of horses belonging to Le Bourdil Blanc’s Saumur-trained guide and moniteur, Antoine, and also from a nearby equestrian center with whom Jane has been working for over 10 years. Many of the horses are now old friends and are welcomed with delight by return guests.
The horses are in the main home-bred crosses with Arab and Anglo-Arab blood. They average about 15 hands high to 15.2 hands high, although there are some smaller ponies for children, and they are both calm and reliable as well as forward going and enjoyable to ride. The saddles are either specialized endurance saddles (Forestier, Gaston- Mercier, etc.) or traditional English saddles, and the majorities are ridden in snaffle bits. Saddle-bags are provided where necessary.
To ensure you and your horse are well-matched, all riders try out their horse before setting off on the ride. Dordogne Riding always has a few extra horses on standby on the first day to ensure that the selection is appropriate. It is important that you voice any concerns about either your horse or tack at the earliest opportunity, Dordogne Riding will, of course, do all they can to remedy whatever concerns you may have, as soon as possible.
The riding is English style, with an average of five-hour riding a day crossing varied and sometimes steep terrain. You need to be reasonably saddle-fit and must be an intermediate or above rider who is comfortable, balanced, and secure in the saddle and able to control a well-schooled horse in open country at a walk, trot, and fast canter. There is a good choice of horses for riders of an intermediate ability, with some of Antoine's own horses sometimes available for experienced riders.
As the riding hours and pace can be adapted to suit riders' ability to a certain extent, some confident but more novice or young riders may also be taken - even though all participants must have a reasonable amount of previous riding experience, including riding out in a group over varied terrain at a variety of paces. Horses will be allocated on the first day and there is a chance to try them in the paddock, or on a short ride with Antoine, before setting off to ensure a good match.
Rides are usually run for as few as four and no more than eight riding guests. Riders of similar ability will be grouped, so please take care when filling out the riding assessment form as less experienced riders may affect the enjoyment of fellow riders. Dordogne Riding regrets that they cannot accept beginners and normally impose a weight limit of around 96 kilograms (210 pounds or 15 stone). If you are there or thereabouts, do please get in touch to discuss options.
Riders will be shown the daily routine with the horses on the first day and are then very welcome to help prepare, tack up and un-tack their own horse each morning and evening, although this is not compulsory. Antoine speaks good, but not fluent in English and some knowledge of French will add to the pleasure of each ride. Jane, your English host at Le Bourdil Blanc, who does not ride will meet you for picnic lunches and is happy to interpret should you need a hand.
This is usually medium and well-varied. Routes take you from village to village, through woodland and along forest tracks where there are regular opportunities to trot and canter. The local environment of forest, fields of crops, vineyards, and small villages means canters may be short and you often need to ride in single file, but you will move on where the going allows.
This region of France is thick with private chateaux and much of the riding is through these country estates and over private land, with some routes passing through villages and farmyards. The countryside itself is rolling with forested hills, valleys, vineyards, and grassy meadows and there are miles of wide tracks through the forest as well as narrower paths that wind through woods, along river banks, and skirting cultivated land, so it is important to follow your guide's lead to avoid destroying the hard work (and goodwill) of the farmers who grant you exclusive access to their ground.
Dordogne Riding has taken great care to plan the weeklong ride to ensure experienced riders have the opportunity to enjoy long energetic trots and exciting canters, as well as relaxing walks to soak up your surroundings. Please note that while you keep riding on the tarmac to a minimum, there are occasions on which you ride down quiet country lanes and through sleepy villages. The routes taken cover new ground as far as possible rarely covering the same ground and then only for the shortest of distances.
Le Bourdil Blanc is an ideal venue for riders traveling with non-riding companions, they can relax at the house, make use of the swimming pool and tennis court, or explore the local area, where there is much to see, by car meeting up with riders for picnic lunches if they wish. Dordogne Riding is happy to help you plan your days.
The standard seven night’s itinerary generally includes riding on six days, following a different route each day with half a day free to visit local sites or simply to relax by the swimming pool. Day by day arrangements and routes may be varied by your host and guide depending on the season, the ability and interests of the group and also local conditions. Final decisions are left to the discretion of your guide and host. The standard itinerary planned for a week's stay is set out below but please note that this is just an example and both the riding and places visited can change.
You will be met at the airport or train station in Bergerac and driven the 10 minutes or so to Le Bourdil Blanc with time to settle in before evening drinks. Dinner and overnight will be at Le Bourdil. (Dinner)
After breakfast, head the short way down to the stables to meet the horses and try them in the paddock under the expert eye of your riding guide, Antoine. Then, as Sunday is market day, a quick change and set off by a car at about 10:30 to visit the street market in Issigeac which is great fun and full of local color. Have a morning shopping in the market before returning to the house for lunch followed by a ride of between two and three hours. Return to the manor house in the late afternoon for drinks and dinner, then overnight at Le Bourdil Blanc. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Have breakfast, then mount up and set off riding. Today's route takes you through the village of Lamonzie-Montastruc and across la Forêt de Liorac to the private Château de Garraube with its formal gardens, then on to the pretty village of Saint-Marcel-du-Périgord where you stop for a picnic lunch near a stream. After lunch, you will ride on to Pressignac-Vicq where the horses will stay overnight. Return to Le Bourdil Blanc by car and Bernadette will cook a delicious, typical local dish to be washed down with some great local wines! Dinner and overnight will be at Le Bourdil Blanc. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
After breakfast, you will have a short drive back to Pressignac-Vicq to meet the horses. Today's ride takes you down to the Dordogne River - a spectacular ride with wonderful views. Stop on the bank of the river for a drink and a picnic lunch and, in the afternoon, you will ride back to Pressignac-Vicq by a sharply contrasting route with the opportunity for a few good canters. You will be driven back to Le Bourdil Blanc for a well-earned drink before dinner. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
You will have breakfast before returning to the horses and riding them back home through the forests to the manor. Stop for a picnic lunch along the way arriving at Le Bourdil Blancin time to change and relax before enjoying another delicious dinner. Overnight will be at Le Bourdil Blanc. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Set off on a morning ride through the forests and vineyards either to Château de Tiregand (owned by the Saint-Exupéry family, one of whom wrote the well-known children's book, 'Le Petit Prince') or to Les Terres Vieilles. Both produce excellent local wines and there will be time for an informal and informative wine tasting (optional) before riding back to Le Bourdil Blanc for lunch. The afternoon is free for sightseeing or to relax.
Jane will discuss the options and will happily arrange group visits to local sites of interest, book restaurants, and organize hire cars - or you can just relax at the house, using the heated swimming pool and tennis court or perhaps trying the boat on the lake - the choice is yours. Dinner is not included today and is generally eaten out, either on the way back from the places you visit or you will be driven to a local restaurant, unless someone wants to cook or barbecue at Le Bourdil Blanc! (Breakfast, lunch)
After breakfast, you will have a stroll to the stable yard to mount up for your last day's riding. The route takes you through the Caudeau Valley visiting the villages of Saint-Georges-de-Montclard, Saint-Martin-des-Combes, and Clermont-de-Beauregard and passing the Château de la Gaubertie stopping at another idyllic picnic site. After lunch, you will ride back to the manor house in time for drinks and a farewell dinner. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
You will be driven to Bergerac Dordogne Périgord Airport (EGC) and Gare de Bergerac (railway station) after breakfast or, depending on your departure time, you may be able to visit Bergerac street market for some local shopping before departing. (Breakfast)
On the second day, you will be taken to visit the street market in Issigeac and have a morning shopping there.
On each ride, you will be accompanied by Antoine Delpit and his assistant. Antoine trained at l'Ecole National d'Equitation at Saumur and is your French licensed "moniteur" bringing with him full accreditation which is a legal requirement for all riding establishments in France. Antoine is an experienced, accomplished rider who knows the local countryside, regional culture, and history well.
Le Bourdil Blanc is located in Dordogne, France, ideally situated for exploring the area. The house is situated 11 kilometers from Bergerac and two kilometers from the Dordogne River. The Dordogne is an area of outstanding natural beauty, one of the most beautiful in Europe, not dissimilar to Tuscany. This is a green land of farms, lovely wooded hillsides, and gentle winding rivers. It is still unspoiled, and rural France at its best. Long let it remain so.
Dordogne is one of the gastronomic centers of France after Lyon, famous for its foie gras, duck, truffles, mushrooms, and seafood. There are many excellent inexpensive restaurants in the area using traditional recipes. It is also well known for its wines. The world famous vineyards of Medoc and Saint Emilion are close by and the local wines of Bergerac, Pecharmant, Montbazillac, and Cahors are also excellent.
The area is rich in pageantry. The English ruled Aquitaine for 300 years in the Middle Ages under the Plantagenets and there are many castles, bastide towns and fortified churches to visit. The Dordogne and Vezere valleys are world famous for the art of prehistoric man at Lascaux, known as the 'birthplace of art'. The charm and beauty of this part of France, combined with great riding and marvelous local gastronomy, prove an attractive formula for clients who appreciate not only natural beauty but also the finer aspects of life.
Meals from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last day (except dinner on Thursday night), including wine with meals, are included. The Dordogne is held as a place of the finest food and wine this country has to offer. Hailed as a place of fine farms and farm food, the Perigord area is foodie’s paradise!
The Dordogne offers rich and varied cuisine of the highest standard. Regional specialties include foie gras, walnuts (used in gateaux and pain aux noix), strawberries, truffles, and of course a wide selection of wine from the nearby Bergerac vineyards as well as from Bordeaux and Cahors. Duck is a regular feature (confit or magret de canard) and the Perigord cuisine often favors the use of duck and goose fat over butter, giving dishes such as roast potatoes a particular, and delicious, taste.
The daily menus are created according to the best in seasonal food, and guests requirements and requests. Le Bourdil Blanc’s owner and your host, Jane Hanslip works closely with her cook Bernadette to present to you the very best the region has to offer, some delights you may know, some will be closely guarded pleasures known only to residents of the locale, hidden to the fly-by-night tourist! Dordogne Riding often caters for vegetarians as well as providing gluten-free diets.
Traditionally French - croissants and bread delivered daily, yogurt, cereal, fruit, local jams, honey, and preserves. There will be fresh coffee, tea, and fruit juice.
A buffet freshly made each day and boosted with hot homemade soup if the weather demands. The delicious spread presented in the dining room for you to eat where you wish, cozy in the house, out in the garden, or perhaps on the terrace. Buffets are created from the following:
Dinner is three courses and a relaxed affair generally in the dining room though sometimes al fresco. Typical French delicacies such as magret de canard (duck breast), gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb), veal, and lamb stews, roast beef, beef bourguignon, and fish are served. Wonderful desserts will also be served such as fruit charlottes, apple pies, floating islands, crème brulé, baba au rhum with lots of different salads to start.
You can use all facilities at the house in your free time such as all-weather tennis court, heated outdoor pool, a small lake for boating, mountain bikes, table tennis, and croquet. There is also much to see and visit. Dordogne Riding has a local guide who can plan and spend a day with you showing you the highlights of the area or you can explore by yourselves, but you will need a car. Points of interest include:
Please book your flight to arrive at Bergerac Dordogne Périgord Airport (EGC). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Dordogne Riding will pick you up from the airport.
To get to Le Bourdil Blanc, you can take a train to Gare de Bergerac. Dordogne Riding will pick you up from the train station.
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