Riders and Merens horses in the Pyrenees on a trail ride
Languedoc Roussillon - Cevennes

Languedoc Roussillon - The Great Transhumance

A riding holiday with a purpose! On horseback, help Pyrenean horse breeders to move their Merens and Castillon horses to the summer pastures in the mountains each year. This tradition is one of the most important events in the Pyrenean culture. After moving one hundred mares and foals, continue your riding trail to the great Cirque de Campuls.
Book now Print the details for this ride
Horse Drive
8 days/ 6 days riding
From £1,020
  • Pyrenees in merens herd in France
    Merens herd in the high Pyrenees
  • Merens horses transhumance in Pyrenees
    Beautiful Merens horse in the wild
  • Pyrenees, transhumance of merens horses
    A beautiful transhumance in France
  • Horse riding holiday in The Pyrenees
    Beautiful lakes and mountains in the Pyrenees
  • Riding trail in the Pyrenees
    Explore the Pyrenees on horseback
  • Horse riding holiday in The Pyrenees
    The Mountain Pass Trail
  • Horse riding vacation in The Pyrenees
    Reflection of the riders in the river

Itinerary

Highlights

- Discover the history of the Meren and Castillon horses and see their breeding grounds
- Participate in one of the key events of the Pyrenees Culture
- Meet the ranchers and enjoy the festivities surrounding the moving of the horses
- After moving the horses, enjoy 4 days riding high in the mountain landscapes of the High Pyrenees
- The Meren is a small, black horse which is native to the Ariège Pyrenees and gets its name from a village in the high mountains close to Andorra
- The best way to appreciate this beautiful sanctuary and to observe the variety of plant and animal life is on horseback
  • Day 1 1: LONDON - SAINT LIZIERS - No riding

    Fly from the UK to Toulouse, where you wil be collected and transferred to your hotel in Saint Liziers. Your flight must arrive by 14:00. This transfer is not included, and is €75 payable locally.

    After being shown to your room you will meet the horses before joining your guide for dinner.

    Alternatively you can take a train to Foix from where you will be collected at 17:30.
  • Day 2 2: SAINT LIZIERS - SAINT GIRONS - BETHMALE - 4-5 riding, 24 km

    It's an early start this morning to be out with the local farmers with the herd of méren horses at 07:00 AM. The small town of Saint Girons is blocked off to traffic in order to allow the convoy to pass! You will have a herd of one hundred mares and their foals to move. The transhumance of the mérens is a big event each year and there will be music playing in the mountain villages as you walk through. The opportunity may also arise to increase the herd. After a good days riding, you will overnight near the Bethmale valley famous for its cheese.
  • Day 3 3: BETHMALE - CIRCQUE CAMPULS - 4-5 hours riding, 16 km

    The second day of the transhumance of the Meren horses to the summer pastures sees you riding into the pastures Circque Campuls where the horses are released to graze at around noon. The horses will now be free to spend several months in total freedom in the high mountains. This life with the herd gives the Méren horse the mental balance for which he is known. You will join the horse owners for a festive meal while the herd heads off grazing into the mountain. Tonight you will be in the beautiful refuge Retrouvance NFB .
  • Day 4 4: CIRQUE OF CAMPULS - AUNAT - 4 hours riding, 17 km

    Now the horses are free in their summer pastures until the next meeting in the Autumn. Your riding meanwhile continues up into the mountains of the Col de la Core. Then descend into the beautiful valley of Seix. You will overnight this evening in Aunat.
  • Day 5 5: AUNAT- LA BENADOLE - 4 hours riding, 17 km

    Today you will be horseback riding on the crest of Courmariau. You will cross various terrain in the Ariege mountains which are dominated by Mount Valier.
    This vast protected area has retained its wild, untamed character with deep, steep sided valleys, rushing streams. Overnight lodging at Bernadole .
  • Day 6 6: LA BERNADOLE - BIERT

    Today you will ride high up on the Pyrenean peaks to Biert cottage, which is hidden in the mountains. Overnight at the cottage.
  • Day 7 7: BIERT - SAINT GIRONS - SAINT LIZIERS

    Ride downhill to Saint Girons where you started your first day of the transhumance. Bid farewell to your horses and overnight at hotel Tower .
  • Day 8 8: SAINT LIZIERS - LONDON

    After breakfast you will be transferred to the train station at Foix or the airport in Toulouse. Your flight should depart after 15:00.

Dates & prices

Price details

IMPORTANT: the dates can be changed up to January depending on local weather conditions. If the snows are heavy then it is possible the transhumance will be pushed by a couple of weeks.

- Flights are not included. Transfers from Toulouse airport are not included but cost 75€ per person return (c. GBP 65).

- Groups are composed of 4 - 10 riders

- Accompanied teenagers aged 14+ are welcome on this ride provided they are good enough riders.

- Riders over 80 kg / 12.5 st / 176 lbs, please contact us before booking.

- Special diet supplement: €30/£26 per person for the duration of the trip.
Please Note
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.

Price includes

Support Team

1 English-speaking horse guide

Logistics

1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle
1 vehicle and driver

Inland transport

Transfers from the Foix train station

Accommodation

Twin/double room in a hotel for the first and last night (two people sharing)
Gite or local hostel accommodation during the trail (sharing)

Meals

Full board from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on the final day

Price doesn't include

Meals

Beverages and personal extras

Transport

Airport transfers from Toulouse airport - €75 per person return
International flights

Extras

Tips to the local team

Insurance

Cancellation and travel insurance are not included. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend taking out an insurance policy as soon as your trip is booked in case of cancellation.
  • May - June 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    05/06/2020 12/06/2020 £1,020 Full

Equestrian info

Horses

The horses here are local Meren mountain horses, chosen for their ability to navigate the tough terrain They will take you safely through the region. They live out high up in summer pastures as a herd before being brought into work. The horses are ridden in English saddles. In June the herd is led up to the summer pastures to spend several months in total freedom in the high mountains. This life with the herd gives the Mérens horse the mental balance for which he is known.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

This ride is for experienced riders only who can ride outdoors over varied terrain for several hours.

Riders over 80 kg / 12.5 st / 176 lbs, please contact us before booking.

Pace

Whilst moving the horses the pace is not fast although there may be some trots. During the trail you will walk, trot or canter where the terrain allows. There are some sections where you will have to lead your horse on foot through difficult passes.

Tacking ability and participation

You are responsible for taking care of your own horse - tacking up, unsaddling, feeding and watering.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

This riding tour takes place mainly in the highlands therefore good physical condition is necessary.

Trail riding experience over several days is a plus, but not required . Riders who do not ride regularly need to ensure they are riding fit before joining this trail.

Equestrian equipment

Water bottle holders are provided along with saddle bags.
Comfortable English tack.

We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit

Travel info

Comfort

The nights are spent in gites or shepherds refuges. These refuges are located along the trails and offer dormitory accommodation and a meal cooked by the caretaker who is on duty. The accommodation is basic but this is part of the charm.

Meals

Picnic lunches are cold and carried in saddle bags.
Evening meals are cooked by your hosts and guides.

There will be a supplement to pay if you have any specific diet (vegetarian, gluten free, etc). Please see dates and prices.

Climate

The region can experience different weather patterns.

In the foothills of the Arieg valley towards Tarascon and Pays de Sault the weather is mediterranean, with hot and sunny weather likely.
In the Pyrenean valleys the weather is more volatile with the possibility of storms and high temperature differences between day and night.

Rain can be possible all year round, particularly on the northwest facing slopes and snow is common above 1,000m.

Guide and local team

The owner of the horses and trail riding company - Sylvain - is local to the area and is a certified guide for both climbing and horse riding. He is a geographer and specialist in ecotourism and will share his passion of mountains, horses and outdoor sports with you.

Whilst Sylvain normally guides this ride it may be possible that another member of his team guides and he works with the logistic team.

Tips

In France it is customary to tip - usually this is by rounding up the price when you are satisfied with the service in a restaurant. You may wish to leave a tip with the guide who can split it amongst all members of the team.

Packing list

Head
- Equus Journeys strongly recommend that you wear a riding helmet and that you take your own to ensure a correct fit.
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana for protecting your neck and face from the sun and dust

Upper body
- Thermals in case of cold weather
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun, which can be fierce at altitude
- T-shirts
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm polar fleece or equivalent (plus a spare in case one gets wet)
- Waterproof jacket - rain can be difficult to predict and it's better to be prepared. In the mountains the weather can change quickly

Legs
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Waterproof over trousers
- Casual clothes for the evenings (jeans or walking trousers)
- Thermals (can also be used as nightwear)

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Lightweight shoes or trainers for the evenings
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, wind or rain whilst riding

Nightwear
- Sleeping bag with a minimum comfort rating of minus 5 celsius - you may find minus 8 - minus 10 more comfortable.
- Sleeping bag liner adds an extra layer - either cotton, fleece or silk
- Self inflating mattress such as Thermarest for comfort
- Pyjamas or tracksuits or thermals for sleeping in

Our Recommendations
- Please don't take a hard sided suitcase. Your luggage should be soft sided with a capacity of 60-80 litres. We recommend taking a backpack or similar. The luggage limit on the ride is 15kg per person.
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (camera, sunscreen, lipbalm etc)
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!

Other useful items
- Towels (camping towels pack lighter and dry quicker)
- Swimsuit - for swimming/bathing in rivers
- Small backpack for accessing items required during the day (carried by support crew)
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Water bottle (2 litres or 2 x 1 litre)
- Wet Wipes or equivalent (for when washing facilities aren't available)
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)

In your luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic ziplock bag.
- Swiss army knife or equivalent

In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- Your riding hat

Medical kit
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent
- Any medication you regularly take
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Eye drops
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhoea medication
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

Visa & Health

Formalities

UK citizens - other nationalities please contact us:

Passport validity
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

The rules on travel will stay the same until 31 December 2020.

Visas
If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don’t need a visa to enter France.

The rules on travel will stay the same until 31 December 2020.

For up-to-date information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/entry-requirements

Insurance

It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.