What is Atout France?
Atout France is an official agency designed to promote tourism in France. As an economic interest group (Groupement d’Intérêt Economique), its raison d’être is to develop French tourism activities. To this end, we have set ourselves three key missions: to promote and develop the “France.fr” brand inter- nationally; to align what France offers with the needs of domestic and international travellers; to support our French partners, be they private or public, with a view to enhancing their economic competitiveness.
Atout France has been involved in the Longines Masters for some years. Why?
Created in Paris 10 years ago, the first Longines Masters was an extraordinary event that brought Paris back to the limelight as the host city of international competitions. The Longines Masters series is a unique mix of sporting excellence, lifestyle and gastronomy. This concept combining these three elements was then exported from Paris to Hong Kong and New York. The influence of the series radiates to different parts of the world, but France is the cradle of it all.
French equestrian sports enjoy widespread influence in the world. Can you explain why?
France is an equestrian nation. Thanks to numerous eques- trian competitions, events and stud farms, the horse has become a marker of identity in different parts of the country, including Normandie, Provence, Val de Loire and Paris (and Chantilly). As you travel in France and discover the country’s landscapes, you are bound to come across some horse- related elements. For example, Deauville in Normandy is a city with a strong equestrian heritage. The horse is omnipresent there, whether at racecourses and auction houses and even on local beaches. An international equestrian centre has even been created there: Le Pôle International du Cheval.
What is more, the French savoir-faire in horse breeding, French equitation, equestrian competitions and equine crafts (farriery, saddlery and blacksmithing) are all world famous. The French riding tradition has been included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2011. That is a recognition of the French savoir-faire in equestrian. Harmony between man and horse is the basis of the French riding tradition, and this concept has in particular been highlighted by the Cadre Noir de Saumur, the elite instructors of the French National Riding School (l’École Nationale d’Équitation).
French equitation also owes its influence to the great performances of many French riders who won gold medals in all- around events and show jumping events at past Olympics.
Horse breeding in France, which has a long tradition, together with the country’s stud farms, has set the benchmark in the field of equestrian sports. Tell us more about that.
The natural environment of a stud farm has a direct bearing on the quality of the farm and its ability to produce champion horses.
Stud farms in France, be they private or state-run, are no ordi- nary places. They are at the very heart of the history of French equitation, consisting of both tangible and intangible heritages. Key to the equine industry in France, they provide an optimal environment for breeding and raising horses. The private stud farms in Normandy, the ultimate horse breeding centre, are marked by exceptional conditions that favor cham- pion horses and riders. A case in point is the Morsanglière stud farm, which stretches over 150 hectares of hilly meadows with an abundance of grass. Another fine example is the Coudrettes stud farm, which, with its bucolic, elegant setting, is also dedicated to the well-being of horses.g