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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
6 May 2002

The Great French Ride - a unique journey of exploration undertaken by one woman and her horse around the seven most important wine producing-regions in France. This continuous equine-vinous loop will be the first ever ride of its kind to be conducted by an Englishwoman. In just nine weeks she will ride over 500 miles across rugged terrain and around vineyards of every shape and size, staying with her horse in local farmhouses, (Château Lander Robinson in the Languedoc) and grape pickers' cottages.

Tips from the Horse's Mouth - a regular flow of information relayed back to United Kingdom, reporting not only on visits to food and wine producers but exploring the landscape and history of the regions experienced along the route.


Victoria Bishop and Lily aim to raise £50,000 for three charities - listed below. By February 2002 they had already raised just over £8,000.

Key Characters

Victoria Bishop has spent 17 years in the wine industry - from wine merchant to wine-making in Australia and France. She has passed the WSET exams and has conducted wine appreciation classes. Until recently she ran her own PR/marketing company (with clients such as Champagne Veuve Clicquot, The London International Wine & Spirit Fair, Hunters Wine NZ, and Bodegas Terrazas, Argentina), when she decided to give it all up in order to undertake this unique project. Victoria has seen many countries from the saddle, but has only ever studied France from the ground.

Vicky and Lily Lily is a 12-year-old thoroughbred mare (official breeding name: 'Pushy Woman') with a taste for adventure and an occasionally eccentric character. Lily is currently stabled in Wiltshire. Ribot, her great-great-grandfather was one of only two horses ever to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe twice - this will be Lily's own 'Tour'.


Victoria, Lily and Dromara, the second horse, will leave England on 25 April and ride throughout May and June completing the expedition on 27 June 2002.

The Route

Victoria and Lily will leave the United Kingdom in late April 2002 and commence The Great French Ride in the Loire Valley. From there they will trot through the following regions: Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Rhône Valley, Burgundy, Alsace and cross the finishing post at Verzy in Champagne.

Regional hosts to date include: Diana Sichel at Château d'Angludet in Bordeaux, Nerida Abbott at Abbott Sneyd Anderson SARL in Languedoc, Delphine de Billy at Pol Roger in Champagne, and 'The Finishing Post' reception at Verzy with Veuve Clicquot.

Visiting Riders

As Victoria will be taking Dromara, the spare horse for back up, there will be the opportunity for visiting riders to share some of these unique experiences. To date this includes: Jilly Goolden, Clare Gordon-Brown, Master of Wine, Pippa Woods, Seckford Wine Co, Jane Hunt, Master of Wine, Susan Lowe, and journalists from the English and French equine and travel press.

The Charities

WaterAid - 50 per cent (Reg. Charity No: 288701) - works with people from 15 countries in Africa and Asia to improve their quality of life through lasting improvements to water sanitation and hygiene using local skills and practical technology.

The Fortune Centre for Riding - 40 per cent (Reg. Charity No: 274135) - offers therapeutic opportunities to young people who suffer from learning and behavioural difficulties via horse riding and care.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Benevolent Society - 10 per cent (Reg Charity No: 1023376) - offers sheltered housing for the aged and those in need from the Wine and Spirit Industry. It also provides grants and support for those in their own homes.

Corporate Sponsors

Barlow Doherty Design & Advertising - logo design and artwork

Manic Films, Pinewood Studios - corporate video

George Smith Horse Boxes and Sopexa UK (France's agricultural export arm) - the horse box

P&O (European) Ferries - ferry crossings

Saracen Feeds - Enduro 100 Horse Feed

Anglo Overseas - distribution of horse feed in France

Holmes Place Health Clubs - personal fitness trainer

Southern Water and Armitage Bucks Communications - media training

Team MB Polo - clothing for the riders

For further details of how we can snaffle your support please contact Victoria by email at or by phone (+44 020 7792 5127) or fax (+44 020 7792 3919).

To make a donation simply send a cheque made out to 'The Great French Ride' to

The Great French Ride
4 Bramley Arms
1 Bramley Road
London W10 6SZ