The Camargue Ride, France

4 NightsIntermediate to AdvancedFrom €2,420 EUR?Tour costs €2,420 EUR which is approximately $3,901 AUD

A timeless wetland checkered with silver salt pans, waterlogged rice paddies and movie-style cowboys: nothing excites us more than galloping the free-spirited, silver Camargue horses through their native habitat.

Dramatically beautiful and historically famous for its wild white horses, the Camargue is a region located in the south of France, home to one of the oldest living breeds of horses in the world. It’s here in this rugged, marshy delta where your ride begins that you’ll discover first-hand the region’s passions and traditions astride a ghostly-white Camargue horse. You’ll be the honorable guests of the Bon family, farmers to their very core, and you’ll ride alongside Frédéric to learn the traditional ways of ‘Le Gard’, the riders who work the black-as-coal native Camargue bulls.

To be honest, globetrotters, this experience is a game-changer. The Camargue horse is said to have lived in the Camargue marshes and wetlands for thousands of years and has long-standing historical ties to the local community, where families have worked with the breed for generations. With their characteristic grey colouring and love of salt water, the white horses of Camargue offer a Globetrotting experience like no other. They were officially recognised as a breed by the Association des Éleveurs de Chevaux de Race Camargue in 1978, and the cowboys that domesticate and work the Camargue horses are known as Le Gardians. While they truly are ‘guardians’ of these creatures, these cowboys are not named for their role – rather, they take their name from the plains to the north known as Le Gard. These modern-day cowboys use the Camargue horses to herd the Camargue bulls and cattle, who also happen to love the salty seawater.

Now let’s linger on the off-the-horse comforts. You’ll be staying in the Bon’s 17th century family farmhouse, now transformed into an elegant, luxury hotel where you’ll feast on French-food delicacies for breakfast, lunch and dinner – YUM!

Fast Facts

  • Horse Breed:{INSERT SQUEAL OF EXCITEMENT} Globetrotters, you’ll have the unique privilege of riding a Camargue horse for five days - one of the oldest living breeds of horses in the world. The Camargue horse is said to have lived in the Camargue marshes and wetlands for thousands of years and has long-standing historical ties to the local community, where families have worked side-by-side with the breed for generations. You’ll be riding the very same horses that have been used by your French host’s family for generations, horses that are adept at herding the black Camargue bulls. The Bon family (your guides & hosts for the five days) have a herd of 35 horses to choose from.
  • Pace:Varies depending on terrain - plenty of trotting and cantering, rest assured.
  • Weight Limit:Maximum of 90kg/198lbs.
  • Type of tack:French western-style saddle and bridle {view gallery for specific images}.
  • Seasons:October to November.
  • Group size:A minimum of 4 and a maximum of 10 guests.
  • Time in Saddle:The riding itinerary is variable and will see you in the saddle on average between 2 to 5 hours per day throughout the week.
  • Riding Ability:Intermediate to advanced only. All riders must be comfortable trotting and cantering outside an arena over varied terrain.
  • Accommodation:Prepare to gasp upon arrival when you set foot on the estate that you’ll be staying at throughout the itinerary. The family home has been inhabited for several generations by the BON family, ranchers from father to son. Jacques BON, a rancher to the bottom of his soul, together with the help of his wife, Lucille, an architect, restored the farmhouse to a charming hotel, simple and warm. The 8 rooms ooze comfort and character while remaining modern and elegant.
  • Ride Length:5 days, 4 nights with five riding days (variable hours in the saddle).
  • Inclusions:The price includes all accommodation, riding, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Exclusions:The price does not include international or regional flights, travel insurance (compulsory), all beverages at dinner including alcohol, tea and coffee, or transfers to and from the estate.

 

DEPARTURE DATES & RATES

PLEASE NOTE: solo globetrotters will be required to pay the single rider rate if we do not have another guest willing to share.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price includes all accommodation, riding, and meals from first day dinner through to breakfast on the final morning.

Non-rider price includes half board (without beverages), transfer both ways and picnic lunch at the beach on day 2 of the itinerary, lunch at the hotel and Course Camarguaise visit on day 3, and transfer both ways and lunch in Saintes Maries de la Mer on day 4 of the itinerary.

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price does not include international or regional flights, travel insurance (compulsory), all beverages at dinner including alcohol, tea and coffee, or transfers to and from the estate.

Accepted payment is by credit or debit card only. There is a 2% surcharge on all card payments.

Why is the price quoted in EUR?
With our riding destinations, the currency is dictated by our ride partner in that country. Therefore due to fluctuating exchange rates we have to quote in the same currency.

Itinerary

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*Please note, this is a suggested itinerary only and subject to change at the discretion of your guides due to weather and other influencing factors.

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  • Day 1

    Be warned, you should be BESIDE yourself with excitement on arrival day. When planning our exploratory #10rides80days Globetrotting trip in 2018, the Camargue Ride bewitched me and I know it will do the same to you. THIS type of riding experience is exactly what makes my Globetrotting heart beat faster. I’m fascinated with foreign horse cultures and I’ve had the unique privilege of riding shoulder-to-shoulder with Gauchos in Argentina, Baqueanos in Chile, Pantaneiros in Brazil, Cowboys in Montana and now the ‘Guardians of the Camargue’ in France while mounted on their silver, salty-maned, native horses.

    You’ll need to arrive at the luxury farmhouse estate (your home for the next 5 days) by 3pm so you can squeeze in a two-hour sunset ride. No doubt you won’t want to spend a moment out of the saddle with the smell of horses and the prospect of exploring new landscapes from our preferred mode of transport right in front of you. Owner and guide, Frédéric,, will match you to your horse and you’ll be away.

    After your ride, you’ll settle into your deluxe accommodation before meeting at the on-site restaurant for some French fare. The chef is Grégory Brousse, who serves fresh and generous dishes with the look and taste of the Camargue by selecting products exclusively from the farm and surrounding region. Trust me when I say you’ll be blown away by the quality of food served throughout the week – delicious doesn’t even begin to do it justice! Interestingly enough, your host Frédéric’s mum, Lucille, is an architect and poured her heart and soul into converting a 17th-century mas (farm) into the five-star Mas de Peint boutique hotel and restaurant that it is today.

    You’ll spend approximately 2 hours in the saddle today.

  • Day 2

    After a stomach-filling breakfast that will leave you completely satiated, you’ll swing a leg over and set out on a long ride astride your Camargue mount. Today you’ll be exploring one of the biggest estates in the Camargue, where land, sea and air fuse into one. It’s here near the mouth of the Petit Rhône river that you’ll have the opportunity to discover, admire and traverse the beauty of the different Camargue landscapes: salt meadows, marshland, ponds and lagoons fringed by pine forests. This is where your ‘wild, white horses of the sea’ come into their own. They’re so incredibly adapted to the wetlands and marshes, they’ll astound you with their brilliance and tough-as-nails spirit. You’ll arrive at the beach for a magical seaside picnic before heading back to the estate.

    Approximately 4-5 hours in the saddle today.

  • Day 3

    Today is the day you’ll be part of a timeless tradition that has been preserved thanks to the passion of the landowners that call this watery wilderness their home. You’ll have the rare opportunity to ride alongside the ‘gardians’ and get a taste of their everyday life working, mustering and drafting the Camargue bulls. Your guide, host and third-generation gardian, Frederic, breeds Camargue bulls for the ‘jeu taurin’ (bull fighting games) – rest assured, unlike in Spain, there is no killing or harm of the bulls in this traditional game. As part of your ‘gardian’ initiation you will have the opportunity to draft a shiny black bull out of the herd on your Camargue steed.

    After two and a half hours working with the bulls, you’ll head back to the 17th-century mas (farm) for lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll visit a local Provencal village where you’ll be spectators at a traditional ‘Course Camarguaise.’ You’ll watch the Razeteurs (Camargue bullfighters) come head-to-head with Camargue bulls in this chivalrous game that requires loyalty and valour from both man and beast. Skill and agility, along with a mutual respect, are key to the Camargue bullfight. Unlike with corridas (Spanish bullfights), which show the matador’s name in big letters, posters publicising the ‘Course Camarguaise’ puts the bull’s name before that of the razeteur. The true star of the show is the bull! From fight to fight, his qualities bring him glory and make him a sought-after animal. As for the razeteurs, they are just support acts, their fame being based on the reputation of the bull that they are facing. The razeteurs compete against one another to remove, as quickly as possible, the objects placed between the bull’s horns. These are strings, tassels and a cockade, which each earn the razeteur a cash prize upon removal. But, before cutting and removing each of the objects with his four-bladed hook, he must first tire the bull, which, with good strong legs, often chases the razeteurs right up to the barrier. This results in the razeteurs throwing themselves several feet in the air over the barriers in order to escape the sharp and powerful horns. Sometimes, the particularly agile bulls will also jump over the barriers, making the event even more dramatic and emotional, especially for those lucky spectators in the first row!

    After a brilliant afternoon immersing yourself in the culture of the region, you’ll return to the mas for some fine Provençale food, completely satisfied.

    Approximately 2.5 hours in the saddle today.

  • Day 4

    Today you’ll wake up fresh to spend some more glorious hours in the saddle exploring the grey and pink watery wonderland that is the Camargue. With an area of over 930 square kilometres, the Camargue is western Europe’s largest river delta. As you explore, you’ll come to appreciate its vast plain comprised of large brine lagoons or étangs, cut off from the sea by sandbars and encircled by reed-covered marshes.

    Your riding day begins in the middle of the coastal ponds and briny lagoons. From here you’ll continue alongside the beach where you’ll wonder at the fauna and flora that call this harsh delta home. Fascinatingly, the Camargue is home to more than 400 species of birds and provides one of the few European habitats for the greater Flamingo. Oh, and the marshes are also prime habitat for many species of insects, notably (and notoriously) some of the most ferocious mosquitoes to be found anywhere in France. You’ll be riding at the end of October/November – so fingers crossed the mosquitoes will be on their best behaviour compared to the summer months – but bring DEET all the same.

    Together you’ll discover ‘Beauduc’, one of the very last authentic villages constructed on the beachside and where some people are still living in sheds year-round. You’ll arrive at historic Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for a leisurely long lunch, after which you’ll have the opportunity to shop and explore the village at your own pace before being picked up and transferred back to the estate.

    Approximately 4-5 hours in the saddle today.

  • Day 5

    After the final note-worthy breakfast at your Provençale paradise, you will mount up for one last ride on your beautiful horse of the sea. This will be your very last chance to enjoy this magical watery world, but you’ll be going out with a BANG.

    Today, globetrotters, you’re going to assist the Camargue gardians with the branding of the young bulls. Known as a Ferrade, the marking of young bulls is pure Camargue tradition. The young bulls are run by the horse guards (that’s you!) in the direction of the branding site where a gardian, with a trident on his hip, drops the beast which is then blocked by the crowd that will gather. The gardian then brands the young bull on the thigh with a hot branding iron. And that’s how it’s done in the Camargue, no stock yards or cattle crush in sight! It’s real, it’s authentic, and it’s as much a show for the spectators as it is an important part of farming in the region.

    And after partaking in this piece of Camargue culture you’ll depart, but not before making a mental promise to return one day for another taste of this unchanged world where traditions still reign supreme. Please note, lunch is NOT included when the ride finishes today. You will be able to purchase this yourself when you head back in the direction of Arles.

    Approximately 3 hours in the saddle today.

  • Transfer Information

    You will need to rent a car in order to be flexible while staying at the farm and also because it’s situated in the heart of the Regional Park of the Camargue, so a little bit in the middle of nowhere. We recommend flying into Marseille-Marignane (MRS) airport, which is approximately a 1 hour drive from the farm.

    Remember you’ll need to arrive at the farm by 3pm on day 1, so please ensure your flight arrives no later than 12 midday on day 1 as this will give you a chance to grab some lunch before heading out to the Camargue Regional National Park. And you’ll finish riding around lunch time on the last day, so if you’re wanting to fly home on this day please don’t book departing flights before 6pm. If the thought of all of this is giving you a headache, let us know and we will see if we can tee you up with another globetrotter booked on the same departure as yourself so you can share the cost of a hire car.

Globetrotting horse riding holiday The Camargue Ride, France

Janna Lewis

‘The Camargue Ride was AMAZING!! The hotel was on site – built in 1994 and much nicer than the pictures – our room was split level, cozy yet modern, and immaculate! The food was amazing and great care was taken to address my dietary requirements. Most importantly, the white horses of Camargue were AWESOME – sure footed no matter the weather, fearless and willing. We galloped through fields and on beaches and even helped herd some young bulls. Thank you so much, Kate and Laura! My sister and I cannot wait to do another one of these trips!’

Globetrotting horse riding holidays The Camargue Ride, France

Bernadette Kelly

‘The Camargue Ride surpassed every one of my expectations. For me, it was the unique, wild quality of the environment, the amazing Camargue horses and the superb accommodation that made this ride an absolute standout. My measure is always, ‘Would I go back?’ and my answer to this one is, ‘In a heartbeat’.’

Globetrotting horse riding holiday in The Camargue, France

Anna King

‘The Camargue Ride was one of the best Globetrotting rides I have ever been on!!! Whilst it may have partly been our lovely hosts, the delicious food, the stunning location and the luxurious 5 star accommodation, the Camargue horses are legendary for a reason. Phenomenal agility, speed and cattle sense combined with brave and intelligent personalities make these horses the true stars of the ride. Be it racing along the beach or chasing after the famous black bulls, the armchair-like Camargue saddles and trusty Camargue horses will give you an experience you will never forget. My little pocket rocket, Trés, and the Camargue will hold a special place in my heart forever.’

Globetrotting horse riding holiday in the Camargue, France

Renee Lewis

‘The Camargue ride was a wonderful sisters’ holiday for us! It was our first horseback holiday, and we can’t wait for our next. The horses were wonderful – surefooted, willing and responsive, and experiencing the Camargue horse culture was a treasure. The riding was varied and exciting, from beach rides to helping to work the cattle. The beach ride on the second day was especially beautiful with flamingo, heron, breaking waves, beach gallops and that lovely picnic in the pine woods. And oh… the food! It was so fun to experience it with the Camargue crew. We are hooked!
Reliving the memories until the next adventure. Thank you, Globetrotting family!’

Roz Beinke

‘I loved this ride! We had a ball on sturdy, strong and responsive grey Camargue horses who galloped over all terrain – along wild and remote beaches, over muddy saltbushes, with rain in our faces and feeling oh so alive! The bulls were small and black but also fast, so watching the Gardians at work with them was great. The accommodation, food, service, and fellow riders just made this a fabulous cultural and historical experience. One of those rides I will remember forever.’

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