France Trip Report, 2

In the last post I mentioned Manade Saint Antoine. I’ve included the photos from our spectacular day there. We had a great time riding through the marsh to search for the bulls. And then, we herded them to a field where our intrepid riders “cut” several bulls from the herd. It was great fun and they all performed like champs!  We enjoyed our lunch and the demonstration of ‘bullfighting’ in the style of the Camargue, and then made a visit to a long-time friend, Dany LaHaye. Dany is known throughout France and Portugal, as being a breeder and trainer of Lusitanos that are schooled with finesse and classicism. She was a student of Mestre Oliveira during the years that Dominique was in Portugal.

We spent an entire day in Avignon, much of it spent with Chef Francois Secretin and his able assistant, Severin, at La Mirande. We began the day by visiting the market to find fresh delicacies to create a feast for lunch. Calamari, duck, fall vegetables for a ratatouille and figs with cream and cinnamon and other secret ingredients all combined to make a spectacularly delicious lunch.  Half the group was busy with prep in the kitchen while the other half went with the Sommelier to taste the wines we chose for lunch and learn more about the wines in this famed region. (Chateau Neuf de Pape, etc!). Then the group switched and the prep for the duck was completed, along with the figs for dessert. Then we all sat back and watched the Chef create his magic.

After a lunch like this there are two options: move or sleep. As we could not sleep, we all went with a great guide to visit the Cathedral and Pope’s Palace. The history of Avignon is many centuries in the making and full of intrigue, murder, the plague, and medieval politics. Avignon was the seat of 7 Popes during the 14th century. This is the only time that the Popes have left the Vatican. During this time, and for several centuries, Avignon was its own state…therefore not French. The city returned to France, and to French rule, during the French Revolution in 1791.

Our base for exploration was the incomparable Chateau Roussan, a 16th Century ‘home’ built by Bertrand de Nostradamus, brother to the famed, mysterious, Nostradamus. It is a lovely, atmospheric place to stay in the countryside just south of Saint Remy de Provence.

In the next post: Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado (I promise!!!)…and the Four Schools Exhibition in Paris!

There are special rates available now at the Dry Creek Inn, Healdsburg…but make your reservations right away! The rates go back to normal after January 3. Click on the link above for the Symposium to reserve your spot here at Barbier Farm, and call the number at the Hotel, mentioning Barbier Farm Group Rate, for your lodging.  Looking forward to seeing you!

Amities ~ DBarbier



First of several FRANCE trip reports

Friends! It was such a great trip…and we had far too much fun to put it all in one blog post, so there will be a series.  Stop back often to check for updates! And while you are here, don’t forget to click on the “NEW PRODUCTS” tab above to see the great apparel that we have! Each item features our lovely logo with the Beatrice Bulteau Lusitano. AND seats are going fast for the January Symposium, so click that tab too and get registered! We are waiting to welcome you to Barbier Farm!

We began our trip in Marseilles with a fabulous seafood dinner featuring…BOUILLABAISSE! This is, after all, a BARBIER trip, so food will feature nearly as prominently as the horses.

The next day we trekked into the Camargue, the region that is the delta of the River Rhone where it empties into the Mediterranean. It is known for its abundance of natural beauty, including pink flamingos, the famed black bulls, and of course, the white Camargue horses. But this marshy river delta is an agricultural basket with a huge production of rice and salt and is home to more than 400 species of birds, and numerous fish species, both salt and freshwater. But aside from the Camargue horses and the bulls, the thing that you won’t find anywhere else on the planet is the culture of the Camargue people. Centuries of cultural influence from the Roma people, along with French and to a smaller degree, Spanish influence, has created a distinct lifestyle centered around the horses and bulls.

We had a wonderful time riding across the beaches and through the marshes. Going by horseback through this wild area gave us the opportunity to feel the rhythm of the tides, the flocks of birds, and see net-fishing by hand. We saw dwellings with the traditional thatched roof, all pointed in the direction of the famed MISTRAL winds. And we learned a great deal about the culture and natural environment from our guides.

Our base for a few nights was the stunning Mas de la Fouque hotel and spa. We’re posting the pictures so you can have a sense of the special nature of this land and its inhabitants. Even at the very southern edge of the country, practically ON the Mediterranean, our lodgings were trés chic and deliciously comfortable. We’ll be looking forward to a return!

Before we headed north, we spent a day at Manade Saint Antoine, complete with riding into the marshes to round up bulls. We separated a few bulls from the herd to have an exhibition of the Camargue style of bullfighting (More like bull-tagging…..not much like fighting…but very daring and dangerous!). Later, we all enjoyed a traditional lunch of bull stew at the Manade. Thank you, Alexandre and team for a spectacular day!

Coming next: a report from St. Remy de Provence and Avignon! Food is the small headline, Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado are the big headline!


France trip report 3, with Frederic Pignon and the Four Schools Exhibition!

France was filled with so many special things for our group…even three blog posts doesn’t cover it! But here are a few more highlights.

We had the great pleasure and honor to spend a day with Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado, along with Magali’s parents and sister Estelle, and of course, Noah, their son! Frederic and Magali were the original performers and choreographers of Cavalia. It was a delight from start to finish. None of us wanted to leave the farm when the time came. We began the day in Tarrascon to have a visit to the school and foundation that Frederic and Magali have begun to educate young riders. Their goal is to create riders that can ride, train, and perform with horses in Equestrian Theatre or Spectacle. They ride and work each day in a complex that is over 200 years old. At one point it held more than 1,000 horses being trained for Napoleon!

Then we moved on to Frederic and Magali’s house and training base. We were thrilled to watch an impromptu exhibition with many of Frederic and Magali’s star performers! After a lunch together we all visited the breeding farm. We met Magali’s parents and sister Estelle and all the horses at the farm, including the new stars of the show that Frederic and Magali are now staging. The first performances were at the Salon du Cheval in Paris earlier this month. The day ended with a walk in the fields among the young horses and mares and babies. We were surprised with a champagne and cookies treat while with the horses. This, like the rest of the day, was offered with grace and smiles and generosity. Thank you, Frederic, Magali, and to all your family. It was a wonderful day for all of us.

Zipping to Paris the next day on the TGV had us there in plenty of time for an afternoon of shopping. Later that evening we gathered to go to Bercy to see the Four Schools Exhibition. We were in France in 2007 for the first ever performance of the Four Schools together. This evening had all the majesty of the first performances, with maybe a little more relaxation.

Visits to Chantilly, Versailles, and Haras du Pin in Normandy finished out the rest of our trip, and YES we were all exhausted….but happy to have experienced so much Equestrian Culture. This heritage is appropriately treasured in France. We hope you enjoy the photos, as always, lovingly created by Keron Psillas. And we hope you will join us on trip sometime soon! Next up will most likely be Brasil in May for the Auction at Couldelaria Ihla Verde and the ABPSL Expo. Stay tuned to the blog for details!

In the meantime, don’t miss the upcoming Symposium in January. Click on the tab above to register for one day or for the whole weekend! We’re looking forward to seeing you!