Heading to France for a golf holiday? We help narrow down your array of choices for a golf holiday over the channel.
France has quality golf courses in every corner of the country, so finding out which area or resort is most suited to you - it can seem quite daunting.
Admittedly, it's not an easy choice because the options are both extensive and comprehensive. However, we’ve tried to help you make your mind up by identifying the areas that will work best for different type of golf traveller.
There are no shortage of possibilities and some overlap – but we hope this guide will help you identify the region or resort that suits you most. We've split it in to five different categories: Best for the Connoisseur, the ideal couples weekend, best competitive prices, best for a family holiday and best for a mixed group.
Best for the Connoisseur: The South West
Tom Doak and Bill Coore – what more do you need to know? These titans of modern golf course architecture both have courses within 45 minutes of each in the Aquitaine region in France's south-west.
Coore created his two decades ago at Golf Du Medoc (pictured) while Doak added Saint-Emillionais last year. For connoiseurs, golf in continental Europe simply doesn't get any better. They have enahnced an unsung area that has as many courses in Golf World's Continental Europe Top 100 as much-vaunted Sotogrande.
Golf du Medoc, which has two courses in Golf World's Top 100 after the Vignes course entered the Top 100 too in 2015 at No.52, is the star attraction. It's Chateuax course rose to No.15 in the 2015 ranking, due reward for a wonderful heathland with echoes of Walton Heath that was laid out by Coore before his Coore-crenshaw fame.
A four star hotel makes for a terrific base too, fully stocked as you'd imagine with velety Bordeaux. It's on the northern outskirts of Bordeaux and now further inland to the east is Staint-Emilionnais, with which Golf du Medoc now have attractive packages.
To the south lie further jewels that make Aquitaine such a well-endowed yet lower-profile region. There is Moliets, a parkland-links hybrid, and Seignosse, a tough test among pine trees and around water hazards. Then there is the leady parkalnd of Hosegor while another woodland-seaside course at Chiberta completets what is unquistionably a connoisseur's delight.
Best for a couples weekend: Paris
The reason is obvious – because as well as some of the continent's very nest golf courses within a 45-minute circumference of the centre, the non-golf attractions are undoubtedly immense.
None of us really need to have the off- course appeal of Paris explained to us, the fact that no matter what you enjoy doing away from the course, you'll find it here. There is sightseeing – the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysses, L'Arc Triomphe, Montmarte, Notre Dame, the Pompidou Building, the Sacre Couer. There are sports to watch (French Open tennis at Roland Garros, Six Nations and Autumn Test rugby at Stade de France or football at Paris St Germain).
There is Disneyland, there are legendary art galleries and museums and there is simple people watching in a Seine- side cafe. You'll eat like a king or queen too. The golf courses offer a similarly varied menu – but be aware that many are private and require pre-visit arrangement (try Private Golf Key for assistance).
Le Golf National (pictured) will be in everyone's minds for the next two years as it prepares to host the Ryder Cup. This thrill-a-minute parkland is dominated by water and already offers tremendous 'experience' golf. The top two-ranked courses – Morfontaine and Les Bordes – are so private as to be off your radar, but Paris still has tremendous depth in the likes of Chantilly's two delightful English-feeling courses or the heathland-woodland of Fontainebleau south east of the city.
Nearby Crecy, near Disneyland Paris, has two very good parkland courses and a characterful hotel that is a super base for a trip. In the west, Saint Germain, a classic Harry Colt design, and St Nom La Breteche's Red and Blue offer classical appeal. Paris also does a second tier of courses exceptionally well too, enabling you to balance the books of your trip with some lower-priced courses that will still present a perfectly enjoyable day out.
Best for competitive prices: Pas de Calais
If you want to start playing world-class golf as soon as possible, this is the trip for you – certainly if you live no further north than Leeds or Manchester (and if you are further north, you'd still be wise to consider a domestic flight to Gatwick and follow our route from there). Why? Because it is the easiest golf break to go on in Europe.
Get yourself to Dover (sounds awkward, but brave a very early alarm call and even if you live in Yorkshire or Lancashire, you can be there for an 8am departure) and the job is done. Roll onto the EuroTunnel train, catch up on 20 minutes of sleep, and within 30 minutes of rolling off it you are in the car park of your first course, Wimereux.
It is a no-frills seaside course with as much links character as most in Continental Europe. A great way to start the trip – and if it is breezy, the scoring will be interesting! It's a terrific warm-up for the main action, which begins in the lovely picture-postcard seaside town of Hardelot, but where the golf is of a heathland-woodland nature. It has two golf courses. One is called Les Dunes and sits on raunchy terrain that rolls high and low in dramatic fashion, full of elevated drives and uphill approaches.
The No.1 course is Les Pins, long a favourite for visiting British golfers, having been laid out by Tom Simpson in the early 1900s. In the past four years it has been transformed by architect Frank Pont and his associate Patrice Boissonnas, with hundreds of trees having been removed and in their place the sandy areas of yore have returned. It rose an historic 71 places to No.27 in Golf World's 2015 Continental Europe Top 100 ranking. It falls under the Open Club umbrella, as does neighbouring Le Touquet – which is having its own makeover.
Situated 40 minutes to the south of Hardelot, this is another multi-course venue... and whose No.1 course La Mer is also undergoing Pont-Boissonnas restoration. Laid out by Harry Colt in 1931 it ought to be a sandy, raw, thrilling experience and the refurbishment promises to offer exactly that.
It is backed up by La Foret, laid out by Horace Hutchinson in 1904, and set in a pine forest at Le Touquet (pictured) that is sheltered from the wind, as well as the par-35 3,000- yard Le Manor by Harold Baker. Finally, Belle Dune is a combination of Les Pins and Les Dunes, routed over rolling duneland and lined by pines. It would make for a surprisingly good end to the trip. If you had to devise a golf trip that offered high quality with low hassle, Pas de Calais would be it.
Best for a family holiday: The South East
One of our more obvious selections, because this area of the country is synonymous with quality, style and uncommon class; mere mention of the names 'Provence', 'Cote d'Azur' and 'Nice' explains its selection as France's top family holiday option. Within this gilded region – which boasts weather just that bit better than on any other trip to France, extending the season by as many as two months – are several world- class golf resorts which are perfect to keep every member of the family entertained for a week or more...
Terre Blanche (pictured) is the obvious stand-out, with two outstanding courses and a luxury hotel encompassing an incredible spa, kid's club, pool area and exquisite dining. If you can't nd happiness here, we really worry for your sanity! Heaven on earth.
Another fabulous option is Saint Endreol (opening image). Its course opened in 1992, designed by Michel Gayon, and boasts a sensational par 3 within its classy layout. The 50-room hotel, a five-minute stroll through the forest from the clubhouse, only opened in 2008, and also offers fabulous fresh food that is renowned locally as well as predictably excellent wine.
In the Rhones-Alpes area further to the north, fabled Evian is a beguiling resort on the edge of Lake Geneva. It is one of Europe's most enchanting destinations, with a course that hosts a ladies' major and two luxury hotels.
Best for mixed groups: Brittany & Normandy
The neighbouring regions of Normandy and Brittany offer a golf holiday with a rural hue, based in agricultural settings and traditional market towns of bustling squares boasting a cafe, bar, post office and restaurants. Temperate climates warmed by the Gulf Stream are an added attraction but you'll probably have your own car with you, full of all the gear you wish, because you might well have taken the ferry from the south coast of England.
The golf? Full of highlights and something for everyone, no matter what your taste, budget or ability. No matter how diverse your group, these regions can cater for all. In Brittany, surrounded on three sides by the sea, you lap up spectacular holes such as the 11th at Pléneuf-Val-André or the 6th at Dinard (pictured). Val-André and Dinard Golf are two of the highlights of this region of varied golf, with the common theme of uncrowded tee sheets, inexpensive green fees, and easy access.
The parkland of Les Ormes is another, a terrific play-and-stay option, while Saint- Malo Hôtel, Golf & Country Club is in the forest among ancient hunting grounds of Robert Surcouf, and surrounded by the vast Mirloup lake. In Normandy, there are more than 40 courses ranging from seaside tracks to inland beauties to clifftop thrillers. They are located in locations as diverse as the Bay of Mont St Michel to the Alabaster Coast and from Perche to the Seine Valley, from the Cherbourg peninsula to Auge.
Etretat has overlooked the sea and the eponymous bay since 1908, Golf Barrière de Deauville by Tom Simpson has charmed since 1929 while Dieppe-Pourville is a Willie Park design from 1897. Omaha Beach has an emotive name and indeed is just three miles from the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, and many of its 36 holes enjoy splendid views.
Halfway between Paris and Deauville, Golf d'Evreux sits beautifully in its natural rolling topography and is noted for its fast, true greens while Golf Barrière de Saint-Julien near Pont-L'Evêque has two courses. France's possibilities seem endless..
Want to find out more? UK's official site for visiting France
Private Golf Key Website: privategolfkey.com