The department of Orne in Normandy is home to France’s leading National Equestrian Stud farm, Haras du Pin, where horses perform in the courtyard – known as the Versailles of the Horse – throughout the summer months.

This venue offers an insight into France’s equestrian heritage since the times of Louis XIV, whether that is through its architecture, the landscapes, the various horse breeds, or the professionals who work with the horses here.

Take a walk through horse history with a visit to the stables and on the Discovery Trail before taking a seat in the courtyard to witness the spectacular stallion parade at 3pm Thursday afternoons

The region of Orne is also home to the native Percheron horse, which was originally bred as a war horse and was later used as a draught horse, and you can tour the region in a carriage pulled by these majestic Percheron horses. In August and September 2014, Du Pin will also be hosting the Eventing phase of the World Equestrian Games, which encompasses the disciplines of dressage, cross-country and jumping across the three days of competition with tickets costing from €12 to €38.

Form A spectacular performance for all ages to enjoy in the historic grounds of ‘The Versailles of Horses’, also the original home of the Percheron breed. 

Yearlings Children ages 2 and over.

Pace There are horse-drawn carriage rides and spectacular performances at Haras du Pin, so if you love horses, but don’t fancy saddling up yourself, this is the perfect opportunity to spend a day enjoying their beauty, skill and strength without any risk to life or limb.

Stables Combine a day at Haras du Pin with a stay at Pavillon de Gouffern, an 18th century traditional hunting lodge set in a 200-acre park just outside Argentan (a township 15km away from Orne). There are 20 bedrooms, peaceful grounds, a heated swimming pool and a children’s play area. They can also arrange horse rides in the forest as well as a horse carriage ride to visit Haras du Pin.

Feedbag Dine at Pavillon de Gouffern’s conservatory restaurant with its glorious panoramic windows looking out across the forest. Dishes include fish, lobster, veal and vegetables with mains from €15; there is also a Kids Menu for €20 including one dish and one dessert.

Purse Thursday performances at Haras du Pin cost €6.50 per person. The Cottage (sleeping 4 people) at Pavillon de Gouffern costs from £250 per night, breakfast from £10 per person.