D’Artagnan trails will gee-up horse tourism

Association member Thomas Samek, a Hamburg A&E doctor, and his daughter ride as musketeers

Musketeers saddle up to ride across Europe again on 4,000km of official riding trails named for the heroic d’Artagnan

ANYONE who has read The Three Musketeers knows that d’Artagnan, Aramis, Athos and Porthos rode miles across France and Europe in the service of Louis XIV – and now musketeers are preparing to ride again, this time purely for pleasure.

The Route d’Artagnan Association plans six horse-riding trails across Europe, with sections in France stretching to d’Artagnan’s birthplace in Lupiac in Gers and beyond to St Jean de Luz and Spain, but also into Belgium, Germany and Italy.

Sections of the trails began opening this summer, with Champlécy-Sainte Croix in May, to Maastricht in June, to Lupiac and across southern Belgium in August, then Fontainebleau to St Dyé in September.

The first complete trail, from Maastricht to Lupiac, opens in 2017.

The Fédération Française d’Equitation (FEE) is delighted and press manager Cécilia Do-Teggour told Connexion:“It will be fantastic for French riders and tourism. Combined, the routes will be 4,000km long and cover six countries.”

It is being backed and funded by the European Commission and she added: “I think the theme means this will appeal to everyone, even people who are not currently dedicated riders.”

Founder Alain Liberos, of the EC tourism body, said similar trails existed for cyclists and pedestrians, so why not for horses? “Who doesn’t want to be d’Artagnan?”

He said the routes would develop new tourism with riders on the trail for about a week at a time and spending about €50 per day. Related businesses would open on the route.

Out of Europe’s six million recreational riders, 500-1,000 riders per year would follow the trails in each region, meaning around 10,000 riders annually overall.

However, he was sure that it would become an international attraction.

In Lubiac, tourist officer Marjorie Laborde said: “It’s a fantastic project. Everyone is very excited about it even though it won’t be completely open until 2017.

“We’ll be celebrating the opening of four sections in Lupiac at the Festival d’Artagnan and everyone is already making costumes and getting ready.”

She said the trails would have benefits all year round. “It won’t just be a summertime attraction as riding the trail will be even better outside the heat of July and August.”

  • If you would like to try riding, the FFE’s Equitation Pour Tous scheme (equitationpourtous.ffe.com) offers six lessons for €50 at riding schools all over France.
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