Horseback Riding in France

Randonnée Liberté Ride


An unguided horseback riding trip in the rugged countryside of France near the Spanish border is the ultimate adventure for experienced riders who are prepared to take full responsibility for themselves and their horses.

It is a chance to do your own exploring in a beautiful, mountainous area redolent of history. The route is carefully mapped out and arrangements made for riders and horses to spend each night in comfortable lodgings with excellent dinners.

A minimum of two riders traveling together is required.

Accommodations are in gîte d’étapes (something between hostels and bed and breakfast establishments), and have been carefully chosen for their warm hospitality, comfort, and the diversity of their buildings and hosts. Your hosts and some of the gîtes have cats in residence.

Meals are served family style and are good, traditional French regional fare. Dinners may include trout, grilled lamb or beef in a sauce and fresh produce of the local farms. Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice. Hearty picnic lunches will be provided fresh each day and carried along in your saddlebags.

  • Overview:
    Many of the horses are of Arab and Andalusian origin, and are fit and lively, sensible, willing, and very well suited to the terrain. English or trekking type saddles suitable for distance riding are used. In case of any injury, lost shoe, lameness, etc., it is the rider’s responsibility to notify the hosts immediately.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Andalusian cross and Arab cross
  • Trip Pace:
    To suit riders
  • Tack:
    English and French trekking
  • Weight limit:
    200 lbs

This is not a recommended option for non-riders.


Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive at the farm in Granes in the afternoon where you meet your horse and have an orientation and description of the ride. Dinner and overnight at the center.

Day 2

Granes. Today is a ‘test’ ride with a guide to see how well riders read their maps, handle their horses while riding, and on the ground, and to determine if tomorrow they strike off on their own! Ride through woods past the mysterious village of Rennes-le-Château. After a picnic lunch, return to Granes through a green oak forest for dinner and overnight as on the previous night.

Day 3

Granes to Puivert (about 5 hours). Traverse the upper valley of the Aude River studded with vineyards and arrive on the plateau of Puivert. Cross the plateau and ride right up into the courtyard of the castle ruin where the traveling troubadours used to enchant the lords of the castle with their songs and tales. Overnight lodging is in the village nearby.

Day 4

Puivert to Labau (5 to 6 hours). Today’s route goes through the forest of Picaussel with its huge hemlock, deciduous and pine trees, climbing to a lake, then down through forests and clearings to the ancient village of Labau on the side of a hill.

Day 5

Labau to Ayguebonnes (5 hours). Follow the valley of Rebenty where there are some good places to canter and you will begin to really appreciate the qualities of your horse. You have a chance to visit another famous castle called Puylaurens perched high on a mountain, almost in the clouds, which is a textbook example of military architecture. Spend the night in a farmhouse where the owners raise cattle.

Day 6

Ayguebonnes to Bouchard (6+ hours the longest day). After crossing the valley of Fenouilledes with its small castles, you will ride up to the plateau of Malabrac at the base of Bugarach Peak (4,500 ft.) and then down to the Bouchard estate where it may be possible to see deer and wild boar. Overnight at Bouchard.

Day 7

Bouchard to Granes (5 hours). Ride through the reserve with deer and wild boar, following the valley of Bugarach at the north base of Bugarach Peak, and on through pine, beech and oak forest, following a small valley with large calcareous rocks before returning to your starting point in Granes.

Day 8

Depart after breakfast.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible. Changes may occur due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

April 15 through October 15 Can begin any day of the week. A minimum of two riders traveling together is required.

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $1,675

  • Pricing Variation
  • $675

    Private guide per trip

  • Single Supplement
  • $205

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $1,750

  • Pricing Variation
  • $795

    Private guide per trip

  • Single Supplement
  • $240
Additional Pricing Information:
Prices are based on the dollar/euro exchange and are subject to change. Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time deposit is paid.  

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Contact Megan Barrett

The Randonnee Liberte Ride was fabulous. The adventure of traversing unknown territory without a guide was freeing. We enjoyed beautiful farmland, cliffs, forests, and mountain sights. It was magical to clip clop through the old towns and ride up to a fountain that may have been there since medieval times to stop and water our horses. Being able to ride our horses to castles was such a treat, and the Puilaurens Castle was just stunning. The horses were capable and strong, they stood tied quietly and were easy to work with. The saddles were very comfortable, a military type saddle that I'm seriously considering getting for myself. I didn't even need a seat saver. The gites had lovely people that were very welcoming and they made delicious food fresh from their gardens. The outfit leader and guides  were fantastic and so accommodating. Equitours was also fantastic to work with and I would do this ride again (or a different ride with Equitours) in a heartbeat!

Tharp, 2023