Seven-day unaccompanied hike with a donkey beginner / with young children

Hiking with a donkey


Hiking with a donkey


Brionnais in Burgundy


7 days of hike / 6 nights




B&B, unusuals accomodations and stopover lodge


From 2 people

From 720 / Person


Let yourself be seduced by the adventure of hiking with a donkey in the heart of the Brionnais, the jewel of Burgundy.

On this 7-day family hike, guided by a gentle, docile companion, you'll enjoy an exceptionally well-preserved bocage landscape, embraced by the Loire and caressed by sparkling rivers.

A wonderful family trip, even with young children, in Burgundy!


Day 1
  • From Melay to Saint Bonnet de Cray:

    Meet up at 9am at the Bougres d'ânes farm in Melay for a two-hour donkey trekking course (if you're coming from a long way away, we recommend you arrive the day before, as the course will then take place at 5pm).

    Your adventure gets off to a gentle start along the towpath of the canal from Roanne to Digoin, providing the perfect introduction to this unique experience. Cross the majestic Loire and venture out onto the narrow lanes lined with hedgerows typical of the Brionnais bocage. From here, begin your ascent gently but surely, following a picturesque path that will lead you to exceptional views over the bocage.

    The descent finally takes you to the charming village of Saint-Bonnet-de-Cray, where you will receive a warm welcome from Marie Christine. A day full of discovery and breathtaking scenery awaits you.

    Get ready for a memorable experience on your first day of donkey trekking in Burgundy!


Day 2
  • From Saint Bonnet de Cray to Vauban :

    Immerse yourself in a day that fulfils all its promises: time for yourself, the gentle scenery and a communion with authentic nature... All this awaits you in the valley of the Bézo, a charming river meandering through meadows where Charolais cows graze peacefully. A perfect day out for a family donkey ride, offering an unusual holiday experience and hikes off the beaten track.

    Let yourself be carried away by the soothing rhythm of the current, offering a calm interlude where only the murmur of the water accompanies you. Your evening destination awaits you on the other side, through the small forest of Foumoux.

    A day rich in discovery and serenity awaits you on this stage of your donkey trek in Burgundy.

Day 3
  • From Vauban to Vareilles :

    Get ready for an escapade to the eastern reaches of the Brionnais, where every path reveals unsuspected treasures: low drystone walls, discreet chapels and charming Romanesque churches. Explore this sanctuary of tranquillity, where calm blends with the beauty of the landscape. Take time to daydream under the foliage of a majestic oak, synchronise your pace with that of the peacefully grazing Charolais cattle, watch the aerial ballets of buzzards and falcons, close your eyes to immerse yourself in the sensations.

    This walk is much more than a simple stroll, it's an experience full of pleasure and sensory discoveries at every step!

Day 4
  • Rest day in Vareilles:

    Today, you will spend the morning with Christèle and Robert for half a day of discovery of their farm. Christèle will accompany you in the mini farm to feed "cushy" the dwarf pig and its companion, the dwarf donkey, the ponies, the poultry and the dwarf goats. Robert will tell you about his life as a farmer and his cows. A real moment of sharing that the whole family will love!

    In the afternoon, you can go for a walk with your donkey or do nothing by the pool: it's up to you!

Day 5
  • From Vareilles to Saint Christophe en Brionnais :

    Today you'll once again discover an enchanting tour that will take you through the picturesque village of Oyé. This haven of peace is home to the majestic remains of a 15th-16th century manor house, which was once much more imposing (afternoon tours of the french garden are available from mid-July to the end of August). Formerly under the aegis of the Sires de Semur-en-Brionnais, Oyé was inherited by a younger branch in the 13th century.

    The region you pass through is steeped in a rich tradition of livestock farming, and the splendid farms that line your route bear witness to the prosperity of these lands, nicknamed the "land of green gold". Along the way, explore the historic heritage, breathe in the fresh air and feel the vibrant energy of this land steeped in history and abundance.

Day 6
  • From Saint Christophe en Brionnais to Saint Julien de Jonzy:

    Get ready to explore one of the most beautiful circuits in the Brionnais region today! Pass through the splendid deciduous forest that stretches between Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais and Semur-en-Brionnais, offering an immersive experience in the heart of unspoilt nature. In the middle of your stage, the most intrepid will have the opportunity to discover the magnificent medieval village of Semur-en-Brionnais.

    Don't miss a visit to the collegiate church of Saint Hilaire, built in the 12th century and listed as a historic monument. The last Romanesque church in the Brionnais region, it subtly blends the Cluniac Romanesque style with the beginnings of the Gothic style. Near the church, the château of Semur-en-Brionnais invites you to explore its mysterious nooks and crannies, which are particularly captivating for children.

    This day promises a perfect harmony of nature, history and adventure in the heart of the Brionnais region.

Day 7
  • From Saint Julien to Melay :

    Once you've climbed up, it's time to head back down! Let's get back on the trails, but this time through a beautiful deciduous forest whose peace and quiet will gently guide you towards the Loire Valley. Don't miss the pleasure of a short diversions to the magnificent Romanesque church of Iguerande, a thousand-year-old watchtower perched at the top of a hill offering a splendid view of the valley and its majestic Loire River.

    And if fate is smiling on you, an exceptional encounter awaits you in the museum opposite the church: Lili. He will tell you all about the fascinating history of the inhabitants of this land, adding a personal touch to your experience.

    Descend through the wooded paths, discover the history and nature that surround you, and let yourself be surprised by the wonders that will punctuate this memorable day of your unusual hike in Burgundy.

Useful information

Embark on an exceptional seven-day adventure with a donkey trek, an escapade that brings together the simple, authentic pleasures of a family holiday. The donkey will be the link that will bring you closer together, away from screens and stress. A nature break for a complete break from everyday life.

Reconnect with the simple things in life, share precious moments, and enjoy an adventure that will remain engraved among your fondest holiday memories.

Before you set off, take advantage of a full training course with a professional of donkey trek. Learn how to take care of this gentle, patient animal - brushing, cleaning the feet, putting on the pack-saddle - and get all the explanations you need to guide your donkey with ease. With your new companion, set off with peace of mind to discover the Brionnais region.

The donkey, the faithful carrier of your luggage and your youngest children, becomes a precious ally for parents. It motivates the little ones, revealing their incredible ability to walk.

During these seven days, explore Burgundy's Romanesque garden, the Brionnais, an authentic bocage where Charolais cows, the most famous in the world, have been bred for centuries. Hundreds of kilometres of paths lined with preserved hedgerows are a delight for nature lovers.

Each evening, the family, tired but relaxed, will find refuge in the homes of the locals, welcomed as friends. At the generous table, savour meals concocted with local Burgundian produce.

A walk with a donkey is slow tourism par excellence: a steady pace of 3 km per hour, time to savour the scenery, take a siesta in the shade of an oak tree, meet chatty farmers.

Time seems suspended, offering a peaceful and memorable experience.

The level of walking required for this hike: confirmed

DAY 1:

13 km or about 4h30 of walking / D+: 271 m and D-: 167 m

DAY 2:

16 km or about 5h30 of walking / D+: 277 m and D-: 217 m (shortcut of 3 km possible)

DAY 3:

14 km or about 5 hours of walking / D+: 252 m and D-: 258 m (shortcut of 2 km possible)

DAY 4:

Rest day, but you can make a smaller hike around the farm between 8 and 14 km

DAY 5:

16 km or about 4.5 hours of walking (shortcuts of 2 and 5 km possible) / D+: 335 m / D-: 250 m.

DAY 6:

16.5 km or about 5h30 of walking / D+: 338 m and D-: 334 m (shortcuts of 2 and 4 km possible)

DAY 7:

12.5 km or about 4h30h of walking / D+: 174 m and D-: 403 m

Please note, this program is given as an indication, it can be modified according to weather conditions, the level of the group and/or the availability of accommodation.

Walking times are given as an indication, without break times and depend on your level of walking.
NB: D+: ascent, D-: descent.

the French Federation of hiking has designed a practical tool for estimating the difficulty of hikes.
A simple tool that we used to give you an idea of ??the level required for this hike.
The rating of the federation is a true reflection of the difficulty of a hike expressed according to 3 criteria:

General level of the hike : NOT VERY DIFFICULT

EFFORT: LEVEL 3/5 : NOT VERY DIFFICULT, A LITTLE DIFFICULT Hiking requires a certain amount of physical commitment, but this should be kept to a minimum. This level corresponds to moderate walking.

TECHNICITY: Level 2/5 : EASY, Route or part of a route with obstacles less than or equal to ankle height.

The foot should be placed on "flat" or "comfortable" areas of the surface that are easy to spot.

RISK: Level 2/5 : LOW, fairly low level of accident risk. Exposure to danger is limited. Injuries are possible but minor (e.g.: fairly steep path with possible embankments, possible dislocation and sprains in the event of a fall, etc.).

First evening :

Accommodation in a guest room (private sanitary facilities) and meals at tables d'hôtes on site.

Second evening :

Accommodation in a tepee (private showers and toilets in the shared toilet block) or in a trapper's cabin (private bathroom) and meals at the table d'hôtes on site (free swimming pool and sauna: €15 per person to be paid on site) .

Third and fourth evening :

Accommodation in a trapper's cabin in the middle of a mini farm (dwarf pigs, dwarf donkey, ponies, poultry and dwarf goats) (private showers and toilets in the shared toilet block) and meals served in your accommodation .

Fifth evening :

Accommodation in a stopover lodge in a former school. Private room with private toilets but shared showers.

Sixth evening :

Unusual accommodation: Maloka or wigwam (private showers and toilets in the shared sanitary block). Meals at the village restaurant 3 mins walk away.

Picnics are prepared daily by the accommodation where you sleep.

Do not take too much things (remember 30 to 35 kilos maximum weight of luggage and children included) : take only useful things!

Two bags in which you must distribute your luggage to balance the weigh in each bags (a peson to weigh the luggage will be provided for all the hike) will be given the day before the hike.

What you need :

  • Your clothes (do not forget a practical and light rain suit and caps).
  • Good hiking shoes and possibly a second pair to rest the feet at night BUT LIGHT (type sandal).
  • Shower gel and shampoo not included in the B&B.
  • A gourd of at least 1.5 liters per person which will be filled each morning before your departure.
  • A small emergency pharmacy (antiseptic, bandages, aspirin, mosquito and anti ticks, sun cream).
  • A bicycle helmet for children riding on the donkey (MANDATORY, not provided).
  • One or more small backpacks that allow you to unload the donkey when the children are tired or carry the extra luggage that the donkey can not carry.
  • Garbage bags for puting your clothes: garbage bags are very light, waterproof, solid and space-saving: it's even better than a backpack or a gym bag. Suitcases to avoid absolutely.
  • A water sprayer (usually used for plants), very useful for cooling you down in hot weather.

 What you don't need :

  • you do not need towels, sheets or sleeping bags.
  • You do not need picnic material, everything will be provided with pic nic of the first day.
  • games for children (there is everything you need for accommodation).
  • additional food (including for the donkey), meals, breakfasts and pic nic are very plentiful, do not worry.

How many donkeys?

With the maximum weight that can carry a donkey (30 to 35 kilos maximum per donkey, weight of luggage and children includ), we recommend to book one donkey for 3 to 4 people; this rule can change according to the age of the children and their ability to.

walk the whole hike or not : we advise you to evaluate the weight that the donkey will have to carry during the hike and possibly take an extra donkey.

If necessary, donkeys can carry young children (under your responsibility) for short distances several times a day when they are tired or if you need to move more quickly.

If you want to do this trek with very young children under 3 years, it is quite possible but they will have to be carry by an adult (scarf of portage, baby carrier).


Can I come with my dog ?

Some accommodations do not accept dogs, so it is imperative to notify us if you wish to be accompanied by a dog, so that we offer you a suitable circuit. Your dog must be gentle : he must accept other animals : donkeys, cats, dogs, rabbits, pigs that he will.

meet in the different accommodations where you will stay. Your dog must be on a leash on arrival at the accommodation and if the owner asks for it, you must let it hang. Is your dog trained enough to hike? Remember to do a small preventive treatment two weeks before the hike to harden the pads (ask your veterinarian for advice).


Problems during the hike?

In case of problems with your donkey during the hike: problem of health, hooves... not detected at the start of the hike, the donkey will be replaced very quickly If you decide to stop the hike on your own without good reason, you can be repatriated on the basis of 1 € by km (maximum 50 €).


In the month preceding your departure, you will receive:

  • The list of accommodation.
  • The hiking book and all useful information (variants, distances, walking time, etc.).
  • Hiking maps in pdf (but no need to print them, you will be provided in A4 laminated format upon arrival).
  • The itinerary in .gpx format for GPS (sending on request by internet).

It seems obvious to us that a minimum knowledge of reading IGN maps is important. We have only french web site or youtube video, but I'm sure you'll find some really good one in your langage : it can be a good idea if you're not a map specialist.

You are going to the village of Melay in Saône et Loire: department 71

Saône et Loire is served by the A6, A39 and A40 motorways and by the national road Center Europe Atlantic.

By road, Melay is 9 hours south of London, 7 hours south of Brussels and Bruges, 3 hours west of Geneva, 4 hours south of Paris, 2 hours south west of Dijon, 1 hour 30 minutes south west of Chalon sur saône , 1h30 north-west of Lyon, 1h west of Mâcon, and 20 mins north of Roanne. On Google Map, enter the destination "bougres d'ânes".

By train, enter as arrival destination: MARCIGNY

If you come from the North of France or Europe, you can stop at Le Creusot - Montchanin TGV station where you will take a bus which will drop you off an hour later at the Marcigny stop where a taxi that we can book take you to your destination. If you come from the south of France or Europe, you must reach Roanne station where we will pick you up where a bus will drop you off at the Pouilly sous Charlieu stop where a taxi that we can book take you to your destination.


SNCF information: 00 33 (0) 8 92 35 35 35 -

Bus company for the shuttle train station Le Creusot - Montchanin to Roanne: +33 (0) 4 77 68 30 00 - Timetables in pdf format provided by email at your request

Luggage is carried by the donkeys.

We recommend a donkey for 3 to 4 people with a load of 30 to 35 kg MAXIMUM depending on the size of your donkey.

This weight includes the weight of luggage AND children likely to ride on the donkey. TRAVEL LIGHT!


€ 555 to 570 per adult in a double room with full board.
From 350 to 420 € per child from 12 years old in full board.
From 310 to 380 € per child under 12 full board.
From 110 to 160 € per child under 4 years old full board.
From 30 to 60 € per child sleeping in a cot.

385 € per rented donkey (one donkey for 3 to 4 people)

These rates are for a minimum of 2 adults participating and staying in the same room.
For families of more than 5 people, for people wishing separate rooms, a supplement will be indicated during the quote.

For people traveling alone or for single-parent families with children under 12, a supplement will be indicated to you during the quote.

In all cases, these rates are given as an indication, depending on your requests, an estimate will be established before booking.

These prices include:

  • A single donkey, its hiking equipment (packsaddle and panniers) and its food.
  • The complete organization of your hike.
  • Accommodation during the hike with full board from the picnic on day 1 to the picnic on day 7.
  • The departure briefing: advice for leading a donkey, itinerary.
  • The routes on the IGN map for each day of hiking, as well as a detailed roadmap.
  • The GPX tracks of each hiking day can be downloaded before your arrival.

These prices do not include:

  • Drinks excluding meals and personal expenses.
  • Accommodation the day before and the last day of the hike :
    • From €67 per adult in a double room with full board.
    • From €46 per child from 12 years old full board.
    • From €32 per child under 12 full board.
    • From €20 per child under 4 years old full board.
    • From €10 per child sleeping in a cot.
  • Transportation to the starting point of the hike and back.
  • The repatriation of the donkey and hikers to the starting point in case of abandonment on your part.
  • Epidemic multi-risk insurance.


This hike is accessible all year round.

Options disponibles

  • An additional night with half board the day before the hike
  • An additional night with half board on the last day of hiking
  • An additional donkey
  • Taxi transport from the train station to Melay
  • Epidemic multi-risk insurance