Updated on 18 December 2020
Reading time: 3 minutes
For horse lovers or those simply interested in a great family day out to discover a place steeped in history, the Haras du Pin National Stud is open to the public and a great getaway in itself. Nicknamed ‘Versailles for horses’, the oldest stud in France is a jewel of architecture in Normandy’s Orne département.
A splendid equestrian estate to visit
Nowhere better symbolises all that is great about Normandy’s horse culture, intricately linked with France’s royal history and the thoroughbred industry. The Haras du Pin is today a unique attraction of outstanding natural beauty, home to some of the most magnificent horses and sumptuous stables to be found anywhere in France. It prides itself on being enjoyed by visitors from all over the world, giving them a unique insight into the world of thoroughbred breeding.
Conceived by Louis XIV and built between 1715 and 1730 under the reign of Louis XV, it was originally designed by Robert de Cotte – first architect to the King and the man behind the stables at Versailles – to increase the breeding of military stallions in France. Normandy’s temperate climate and verdant countryside providing ideal grazing for healthy horses proved to be the idyllic setting to establish a royal stud spanning over 1,000 hectares of land. Based on de Cotte’s plans, the architects Pierre le Mousseux and Jacques-Jules Gabriel oversaw the construction of the central château flanked by two curving wings reserved for the horses, regarded as an innovation of architecture in the equestrian world. Up until the 20th century, horse were bred mainly for war, as well as for transport and agriculture.
Besides being a wonderful equestrian estate to visit, The Haras du Pin is a busy working stud farm with a renowned training centre attached. Depending on the season and daily activities on the stud, horse lovers are free to wander along the pathways of the stud and can expect to see yearlings, stallions and mares with their young foals in the paddocks or in the fields for their morning gallop. All year round, visitors can learn about the fascinating history behind the stud, the centuries-old horse-breeding traditions and get a deep insight into the work that goes in to producing the future champions of the turf.
Equestrian events at the haras du pin
races at the Haras du Pin National Stud
On one of the oldest racecourses in France, the Haras du Pin hosts one of the biggest flat and jumping event of the country.
On the agenda
Thursdays at the Haras du Pin National Stud: The Haras du Pin National Stud has built its reputation around four exceptional breeds; the Percheron, the French Trotter, the French Saddle and the English Thoroughbred. These horses are, along with the collection of horse-drawn carriages, at the heart of the showcase that takes place every Thursday afternoon from June to September (and occasionally on Tuesdays).
The international carriage-driving competition (les rendez-vous de l’attelage) takes place in July.
The special Percheron breed competition takes place on the last Friday and Saturday of September.