Visiting the Haras National Du Pin in France
While I was on holiday in France last week (yes I know, I was shocked by that too!), I was determined to do something “Horsey”!
Having searched for something suitable, I stumbled across the Haras National Du Pin, or the French National Stud. The website looked amazing and mentioned that on Thursday afternoons they held a show, so my week was planned, all I had to do was survive horseless until Thursday!
Thursday arrived – eventually!- and off my husband and I went on an hours journey to see this infamous stud…
On arrival I was rendered speechless (yes I know, yet another surprise!) at how big the place was, this was by no means an “everyday” stud, this was simply spectacular.
There was a large welcoming sign, some of which was in English- thankfully! *Should have paid more attention in French at school* the entrance took you into a large shopping area which had the usual touristy type items for sale, t-shirts, bags, pens etc, but there was also a library to wonder around which offered reading materials ranging from the early horses to present, classical riding to everyday riding, quit fascinating really, along with some more expensive items such as bronze casts of horses and luxury bags. I think there was something for everyone really, but mainly tourists wanting memorabilia. I was very good, yes that’s right, I looked but didn’t purchase. (Mainly due to the husband being present!)
In the centre of the vast room was the information desk, where once again they spoke English, informing us that there was a guided tour that pm followed by the show, all-inclusive for 36euros for both of us, so it just had to be done! The tour was in French but we were provided with an English “script” which they followed and allowed us to keep up with what they were talking about.
The tour started at the main entrance with a brief overview of the great driveway, moving on to the chateau where the tour guide spoke about the great and wealthy who had visited there over the years, followed by a view over the outdoor arena, and WOW what a place to ride…
Then we had a tour around their “tack room”, well, I know I have an obsession with tidy, but this is a whole new level!
Following this we saw the many carriages and heard about their role in history, fascinating moment of the tour.
Then the bit I was waiting for, the stables…
WOW, I genuinely can’t think of another term to describe them, tidy, beds neat, tack all in the correct place, it was picture perfect.
The different yards hosted different breeds, from the tiny Shetlands, to the giant Percherons, who were all stallions and perfect gentlemen.
Each yard was as clean and tidy as the others, all the horses were as happy as Larry and happily munching their hay or haylage as appropriate.
The tour ended here in the stables, when we were left to have a wander around on our own, when I found the horses again (sorry – not sorry!) and imagined how it must feel to work with these awesome horses in such an awesome place…..
Once I returned from dreamland it was 3.30pm and time for the “show”, not knowing what to expect, we joined the queue of people, who seemed to have grown by the hundreds!!
Once we were directed to our seats in the auditorium, and the last of what felt like millions of others found their seats, the lights went down and a loud bang (knock?) not sure which, but two people appeared from the basement and the show began…
I genuinely had no idea what to expect, as it was all in French *damn not listening in school!* and it took me a few moments to get the idea that it was based around Halloween (doh, didn’t I think about Halloween?!) the “actors” played various roles from ghosts to policemen and women, with an easy to follow “story” even if I couldn’t understand what they were saying!!
The “actors” were clearly the staff and showed tremendous horsemanship varying from groundwork with the tiny Shetland ponies we saw in the stables earlier who all came into the arena with skeletons strapped to them, much to everyone’s amusement, and one of the “ghosts” controlled them in a display of magical horsemanship.
The show went on for an hour and half, varying from the Shetlands as mentioned, to this: an astounding show of horsemanship, I had a tear in my eye when this finished, the relationship the man and horse had was simply amazing.
We were treated to an ending varying from the “ghosts” standing on the Percherons backs, showing superb balance, to the Shetlands coming back in to take their bow.
After a fairly mundane, boring horseless week, this afternoon made the French holiday worth every boring minute!! Would I recommend a visit… OMG YES YES YES!