D'Artagnan horse trail follows path of famed Musketeer
Don your cape and buckle your swash: horse riders will soon be able to follow the trail of France's most famous Musketeer, d'Artagnan, under a project launched Sunday in the town where he was born 400 years ago.
Due to open in 2017, the "D'Artagnan European Route" will stretch from his home town of Lupiac in southwestern France to Maastrich in the Netherlands, where he died during a siege in 1673, the organisers said.
Charles de Batz-Castelmore, count of d'Artagnan, was a real-life figure who served King Louis XIV as captain of the Musketeers of the Guard.
His sword-wielding adventures were fictionalised in "The Three Musketeers" and other books by 19th-century novelist Alexandre Dumas, which in turn inspired scores of films.
The 4,000-kilometre (2,500-mile) trail, annotated with moments from d'Artagnan's life, will take riders through six countries visited by the Musketeer -- France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Spain.
"There are six million horse-riding tourists in the European Union but no infrastructure at the European level," said EU Commissioner Alain Liberos, who has spearheaded the scheme.
The launch coincided with the annual D'Artagnan Festival in Lupiac, where he was born in 1615.
Hundreds of locals dress up in the traditional plumed hats and cloaks to re-enact duels and battles. A new 3.5-metre (11.5-feet) statue of their hero was unveiled this year.
© 2015 AFP