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France’s best golf courses

Le Golf National

With Paris hosting the Ryder Cup in 2018, the golfing spotlight will be firmly on France. But can its courses deal with the hype that comes with hosting one of the biggest events in world golf? We take a look at some of France’s best golf courses

In September 2018, the eyes of the golfing world will focus on France, when Le Golf National hosts the 42nd Ryder Cup. It’ll be only the second time the event has been held in Continental Europe after Valderrama.

Located in a south-western suburb of Paris, Le Golf National, which opened in 1990, was designed as a national centre to secure major golf events in France as well as to produce French champions.

From ploughed fields, architects Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge used landfill to create a flat, links-style stadium course, the Albatross. Extensive mounding and few trees maximise viewing opportunities. They also added plenty of water to spice up the challenge for players, notably on the final four holes.

Host of the annual Open de France, it will accommodate 60,000 spectators per day during the Ryder Cup, compared with 45,000 at Scotland’s Gleneagles in 2014. The Albatross has also been selected as the Olympics golf venue when Paris stages the Games in 2024.

Ahead of those, it completed a 10-month, £6.6m major makeover in mid-2016, including adding wooden edging to the lakes and upgrading the irrigation and drainage systems, with an aim, according to Le Golf National general manager Paul Armitage, of establishing it as France’s premier golfing facility by 2020. The on-site, four-star Novotel has also just completed renovations and will have a spa and gym added by the end of the year.

Completing the resort’s golf line-up are the less-demanding 18-hole Aigle course and the nine-hole Oiselet. Armitage likens them to business class, premium economy and economy in aircraft parlance, adding that Le Golf National has to cater to three different types of client.

For the Ryder Cup, a concert featuring a top international star takes place on the Thursday, two spectator villages will each cater to 30,000 people and have bus terminals served by 30 official Paris hotels, and the capital is just one hour away, at most, by public transport and trains will be doubled on match days.
Green fees from £163-£186, including an overnight stay with breakfast in the Novotel. £133-£155 green fee only.


France's best golf courses: Barriere Golf Deauville

Barriere Golf Deauville


Relatively unknown to British golfers today, although it was the British who introduced Normandy to golf more than a century ago when Willie Park Jr, son of the first Open Championship winner, Willie Park Sr, designed the Golf de Dieppe-Pourville course. The seventh-oldest in France, it opened in 1897.

Fast forward 120 years and there are now more than two dozen 18-hole courses in the region, in a range of settings from spectacular clifftops overlooking the sea to links golf set amid sand dunes, courses in rolling parkland and others laid out through ancient woodland.

One of the region’s attractions is the easy access, whether directly by ferry to three cross-Channel ports in Normandy or via the Channel Tunnel or Dover-Calais ferries. Golf is also extremely good value and courses aren’t crowded, while a golf touring holiday offers the opportunity to drive through beautiful and varied countryside, taking in picture-postcard villages full of traditional Normandy half-timbered houses.

History is another plus point, from reminders of William the Conqueror’s time, including castles and the Bayeux Tapestry, to the Normandy landings and ensuing battles in the Second World War, marked by many monuments, museums and cemeteries.


Barriere Golf Deauville
Laid out on wooded hills overlooking the chic seaside resort of Deauville and the sea beyond, Barriere Golf Deauville comprises 27 holes of golf alongside a majestic four-star hotel. Its original golf course was built by eccentric English architect Tom Simpson; Open Champion Henry Cotton revamped nine holes after the war when some of the course was lost. Green fees from £44. hotelsbarriere.com

Golf d’Etretat
If ever there was a golf course to take your breath away when you play, Golf d’Etretat is surely it. The course is laid out over the tops of towering chalk cliffs on Normandy’s Alabaster Coast. Some holes are right on the cliff edge, giving golfers breathtaking views of the English Channel and Etretat village below the cliffs. A wartime German bunker lies underneath the practice putting green. Green fees from £42. golfetretat.com

France's best golf courses: Golf Du Medoc

Golf Du Medoc


The Pearl of Aquitaine, as Bordeaux is known, makes a great base for combining a golf, gastronomy and wine holiday. It opens up access to some 50 courses in the south-west of France, with several close to the city, as well as offering visitors the chance to visit vineyards and enjoy the wines, cuisine and culture of the area as well.

Some courses are right next to wine chateaux and rolling hills covered in grapevines, and they boast designs by famous golf architects.

Bordeaux itself was named the world’s best city to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet and its historic, preserved centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For wine buffs, or those just interested in wine, the striking interactive museum La Cité du Vin opened 18 months ago and gives a fascinating insight into the history of wine and the world’s wine regions. It also has a panoramic wine tasting room at the top.


Grand Saint-Emilionnais Golf Club
The first course in Continental Europe designed by American Tom Doak, regarded as one of the world’s foremost golf designers, it opened in late 2015 in the grounds of a ruined chateau just six miles from the wine town of Saint-Emilion. An on-site hotel is planned and the old chateau will be renovated to become the new clubhouse. It’s closed on Tuesdays. Green fees from £75. segolfclub.com

Golf du Medoc
This golf resort, laid out across almost 500 acres on the edge of the Haut-Medoc wine region, features two 18-hole golf courses by top-name designers alongside a 79-room MGallery by Sofitel four-star hotel and spa. On both Les Chateaux and Les Vignes courses, every hole is named after a wine chateau and distance markers on the fairways are shaped like wine bottles. Green fees from £51. golfdumedocresort.com

France's best golf courses: Terre Blanche

Terre Blanche


Named Established Golf Destination of the Year in Europe for 2010 in the prestigious IAGTO Awards, held annually by global golf tourism industry
golf organisation, IAGTO, the Provence and Cote d’Azur region is one of France’s oldest golf destinations, with its first golf club opening in 1891.

It’s also one of the fastest-growing areas for golf in France, having gone from just a handful of courses to more than 50 in recent decades. They encompass everything from golf resorts with high-end hotels and designer-label golf courses to stately courses next to classy French Riviera beach resorts.

Year-round golfing weather is one of the main reasons why golf is so popular with visitors in this part of France, besides the appeal of checking out its chic resorts and exploring the beautiful, hilly pine-covered countryside behind the sweeping Mediterranean beaches.


Terre Blanche
This luxury retreat in rural Provence lies just 35 minutes from Cannes and offers guests a five-star all-suite and villa hotel, a 35,000sq ft spa, two championship golf courses, the Leadbetter Academy and the Albatros Golf Performance Centre. It was voted Europe Golf Resort of the Year in the 2013 IAGTO Awards by golf tour operators. Green fees from £85 for hotel guests, £140-£159 for walk-in guests. en.terre-blanche.com

Les Domaines de Saint Endreol Golf & Spa Resort
Typical Provencal countryside awaits golfers playing this Michel Gayon-designed golf course, which meanders over rolling hills studded by pines and with rugged mountains as a backdrop. The resort also offers a spa and golfers can dine on local fare while looking out over the course from its restaurant. Green fees from £64. st-endreol.com

France's best golf courses: Le Touquet

Barriere Golf Deauville

Cote d’opale, Northern France

British visitors have long favoured coming to this northernmost part of France to play golf. As with other parts of France and elsewhere, it was the English who first brought golf here — the early pioneers including Harry Colt and Tom Simpson at the beginning of the 1930s.

Golf developed around fashionable beach resorts in vogue at the time, the most notable being Le Touquet — PG Wodehouse had a home there — and Hardelot-Plage, where aviator Louis Bleriot is said to have invented sand-yachting. They were just a short trip from England on a ferry. Visitors today can get there even quicker via the Channel Tunnel, besides the regular Dover-Calais ferries.

The dune-covered coastline fronting the English Channel lends itself to links golf, similar to that of Kent, while forests of towering pine trees just behind the coast make for a very different environment in which to play golf.


Le Touquet Golf Resort
Restoration work on the Harry Colt-designed La Mer course at Le Touquet Golf Resort, said to be one of the continent’s finest, has brought it back to Colt’s original design. Four holes of his 1931 design were thought lost through bombing during the Second World War, but aerial photography from the 1930s allowed restorers Patrice Boissonnas and Frank Pont to revive the missing 13th to 16th holes. The 45-hole resort’s hotel, Le Manoir has also undergone renovation. Green fees: £84.

Golf d’Hardelot
Hardelot’s Les Pins course, which winds through a picturesque pine forest, has also been restored by Pont and Boissonnas back to the original 1930 design by Tom Simpson, again following the discovery of aerial views and other photographs. It’s one of two courses at Golf d’Hardelot, the other being Les Dunes, which opened in 1991. Green fees: £49-£84. hardelotgolfclub.com

2018-02-21T09:11:03+00:00 February 21st, 2018|