Play polo? Me? Sorry, no. I can barely play croquet. And yet 15 minutes after my protest, I was on a horse whacking a ball around France’s famous polo pitch, along with everyone else in the group. It’s remarkably doable (we had a lady aged 60-plus in our group going great guns), and it’s always fun being on a horse, right?
The beautiful Domaine de Chantilly, north-east of Paris, is famous for two things. One is horses. In fact, since the early 1800s, the area has been the spiritual home of Gallic equestrianism. And it’s this that our host Dolce Chantilly hotel has channelled in its recently launched Trail of Discovery teambuilding experience.
The day began at Chantilly Polo Club, a few minutes’ drive from the hotel. It was there that a team leader was assigned and we met pro player Benoit Perrier, who explained the rudiments of the game while helmets were quietly handed out.
Following an exhilarating 30 minutes on horseback, we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the property’s beautiful courtyard. And then we were off again, this time to nearby Chantilly Racecourse and its Great Stables.
Considered to be one of the finest of its kind, the beautiful, 186m-long stables is home to the Living Museum of the Horse – our next activity. Having learned just about everything there is to know about our four-legged friends, we were whisked off to see an impressive dressage show in the menagerie.
Chantilly’s other claim to fame? Cream, of course. ‘La crème Chantilly’ is often credited to François Vatel, head chef at the Domaine’s beautiful chateau back in the late 17th century. A visiting dignitary commented on how much he liked it at a lunch hosted within the grand property’s grounds.
And it was here, at the very same thatched-roof folly, that we made some of the famous cream ourselves – our final discovery. Who could make the accompaniment to our strawberries the fastest using only a bowl of unpasteurised cream, sugar and a balloon whisk?
Dolce offers ‘Trails of Discovery’ at each of its five European properties. Groups of all sizes can participate for between €45 and €90pp, based on location and group size
Dolce Chantilly, Avenue de Verdun, 60500 Vineuil-Saint-Firmin, France | +33 3 44 58 47 77
Photos Amelie Mouronval
Check out another equestrian-themed teambuilding option for groups here.