Walking holidays in France with children:
Donkey and you
What is the secret to making unexplored hidden mountains accessible to a family? … a Donkey! These affectionate animals have been part of our family for as long as we can remember. Each one of them has their own individual personality, their own life, their own specific tastes (some are happy with a chunk of bread, whilst others have more acquired tastes, saucisson being a favourite!) They love the company of humans, especially that of children, who they will encourage to keep on walking without sulking.
Trained masters in the art of comedy, they will suddenly become all downcast and upset, merely for attention and cuddles. They are even capable of faking a limp in an attempt to earn some tabacco (gourmet donkey treat) and after they've got what they want, they will set off, fit as a fiddle, ready to tackle the tricky paths awaiting them!
Génépi, Ouzo, Kakun, Lilou, Gédéon, Isidore, Olympe, Kif-kif, Lupin, Libellule, Iznogud and their 40 odd friends fascinate children and adults alike. Warning! You will be dealing with a skilled psychologist, an expert in the complexities of man, ready to take advantage of your weaknesses! Donkey is an experienced drama-queen, quite capable of collapsing Cinderella-style if he sees you are devastated with remorse at the amount of clothing and cereal bars piled on his back, when in truth he's really not too .
Walk with a donkey :
- Some helpful tips :
Watch out for your picnic! Donkey loves bread which is poking out of a bag.
It is important to be firm : One of you leading your donkey with the rope, the other closing the way behind him, with a little persuasive stick if he starts to play up. (Leave a metre in between you and the donkey's behind, so as not to risk an unwanted kick aimed at an irritating fly.)
Do not let your donkey graze or collect grass whilst walking, or he will think he's boss and stop at every possible opportunity.
A final note from Eeyore
It is important for you to know that all our donkeys work 2 months in the year, and for the rest of the time they are on holiday! Roaming free in 400 hectares, where we pamper them from autumn to summer. The donkey is on the road to disappearance; using a donkey to carry your bags on your trek gives them a role and fights against the extinction of the race. He would much rather be carrying your bags and providing comedy for your children, than be on your dinner plate! A donkey can carry a child aged 5 and above under supervision from the parents and not on precarious mountain trails.
On a perched mountain trail, make sure you always stay on the side of the rock face, keeping your donkey on the side of the void. Hold the rope of your donkey, without wrapping it around your hand or wrist. If he takes fright and jerks off suddenly, you are likely to be dragged along with him! Rather, make a couple of loops in the rope and hold it firmly in your hand, leaving the rope fairly lose so as not to hurt your donkey (unless he has constant hunger pangs in which case a little tightening of the rope won't do any harm). The primary reason for a donkey on a trek is to carry your bags. Healthy children aged 5 and up are allowed on our treks, however, please avoid putting them on the donkey's back. Only if the way is wide and relatively flat, and if your child is tired, is this possible.