Native French Horse Breeds

Many tourists visiting Southern France flock to Camargue Natural Park to witness its wild herds of horses – including several hardy native breeds that thrive even in harsh wetlands and marshes.

Percheron horses are known for their distinctive appearance and outstanding temperament, standing between 16-17.3 hands in height. Perfect for competitive events.


The Boulonnais is a heavy French draft breed. This muscular, energetic breed boasts elegant lines and comes in various shades; usually gray. Originating in northeastern France and western Belgium during 54 BC when Julius Caesar invaded with his Roman army, two local breeders, Eustache Comte de Boulogne and Robert Comte d’Artist began crossing existing French mares with Numidian army stallions before later adding Andalusian, Mecklenburg, and Arabian blood into their breed; ultimately creating today’s Boulonnais breed.

At the turn of the 17th century, dealers from Picardy and Upper Normandy began purchasing Boulonnais horses. Quickly becoming one of the finest pulling horses available, it often used to transport cartloads of fish from Boulogne to Paris – not forgetting its elegant appearance, durability and aristocratic bearing made it immensely popular across Europe.

Today, the Boulonnais is an adaptable breed used for logging and meat production. Due to its muscular build, this dog excels at these tasks while performing admirably in sports events. Easy to care for in any climate and enjoys physical exercise – the Boulonnais makes an excellent companion!

The Boulonnais is known for its sleek, glossy coat that has the appearance of polished marble – hence earning its nickname as the “White Marble Horse.” Its thick neck is muscular while its luxurious mane is long. Additionally, this breed boasts large chest and shoulders as well as an open wide head featuring keen eyes and small ears that give this breed its name.


Camargue horses of southern France live in semi-feral herds that are used by cowboys (gardians) to herd cattle. Renowned for their endurance and agility, these Camargue horses excel both at dressage and long distance riding as well as long distance. One of the oldest breeds known to man, their descendants have learned how to adapt over centuries of living free in nature.

Archeological findings point towards a possible origin for the Camargue horse; archaeologists believe that its lineage stems from Solutrean horses native to this area; however, over time this breed may have adopted Arabian, Welsh and Thoroughbred bloodlines.

Traditional Camargue draft animals were once used primarily as draft animals; today, however, they can also be found as sport and leisure horses. Bred for endurance and natural immunity against local pests, this breed features short necks with compact bodies featuring strong legs with full manes and tails for greater intelligence.

The Camargue is a small horse that stands between 13.1 and 14.3 hands. Often bay, black, chestnut or seal brown in color with distinctive features like its short neck, flat forehead and wide-set eyes; its calm temperament and intelligence makes this breed perfect for equestrian games, dressage and long distance riding.


The Auxois is a rare French heavy draft horse used for farm and agricultural work. Descended from Solutre horses from ancient France, and related to Ardennais, Trait du Nord and Percheron breeds; typically bay or bay roan with some chestnut or gray coat coloration also observed; first created in 1913 through crosses between local Bourguignon mares with Ardennais and Trait du Nord stallions before eventually evolving into its own distinct breed today.

Its massive build and powerful hindquarters make the Auxois ideal for heavy work. This breed boasts short ears with wide foreheads, small ears, short, thick neck, long legs with brawny forearms and croup. Training the Auxois easily for work detail can make him useful from plowing to hauling duties.

Even though its size may be intimidating, the Auxois has a calm, gentle temperament that makes them ideal for therapy programs and recreational riding. While hardy breeds such as this one may be susceptible to certain health issues that require care and regular vet check-ups, Auxois’ are known for their hardworking spirit and can endure heavy loads with little complaint.


The Merens horse hails from France’s Ariege region in the Pyrenees near Andorra and was used as farming work horses, but with motorised machinery replacing this role their numbers drastically dropped until only 40 horses remained by 1970 – nearly extinct altogether! But thanks to hippies living simply in the mountains who promoted breeding efforts by living simply themselves as well as initiating campaigns promoting them as fashionable pleasure mounts their numbers had increased to over 4,000 by 1985!

According to estimates, its ancestors may have existed since the end of the last Ice Age in Ariege mountainous region and can be seen in cave paintings from 13,000 years ago. They feature straight or slightly concave facial profiles with small ears set wide apart with distinctive “beards” of hair below cheeks; their necks are medium length; chest is wide and deep, as is their noticeable croup and solid legs with large feet that often remain bare.

Merens horses spend part of each year living in semi-wild conditions in the mountains, which contributes to their legendary toughness, endurance, and calm temperament. A Merens is an ideal breed for anyone wanting to ride and enjoy nature simultaneously; their calm demeanor allows even beginners to have enjoyable riding sessions on one.