France does not lack for good courses. In Golf World’s 2013 ranking of the Top 100 Courses in Continental, 17 were on French soil – including six of the top 20 (France has over 500 courses – with plenty of gems – so there is strength in depth). It is a staggering number, in fact, when you consider how much store is (understandably) set by Spain and Portugal. Here are our thoughts on the main regions you should visit on your golf tour of France.
The Opal Coast
The Opal Coast has lots going for it. There are two clubs both with 36 holes, meaning you could play a different course at Le Touquet and Hardelot over four days and rarely have been more content. Both are European Top 100 venues and are complemented by linksy Wimereux and beautiful (as the name suggests) Belle Dune. Playing on the well-endowed Opal Coast is gloriously easy for British golfers.
The heart of France in every respect: geographically, economically, politically and also in terms of golf. In Paris and within an hour’s drive of it (to Les Bordes), there are seven European Top 100 courses. They are, in ranking order: Les Bordes, Morfontaine, Golf National, Fontainebleau, Chantilly, St Nom La Breteche and Saint Germain.
Sadly, we must discount the first two – which can only be played with a member – but even so, Paris still has more than enough world-class golf to enjoy. Le Golf National is the gorse-strewn muscular layout on the outskirts which will host the 2018 Ryder Cup. It has only been open for a couple of decades but in that time this thrilling course has held the French Open on nearly 20 occasions.
There are woodland classics to be savoured at Fontainebleau and Chantilly while Harry Colt’s influence can be enjoyed at delightful Saint Germain. St Nom La Breteche hosted last year’s Seve Trophy.
Of course there are many other attractions in and around Paris too – from the iconic sights to the art galleries to EuroDisney – making it a winning trip for all the family.
The South West
This is a real find; the area between Biarritz and Bordeaux is magical anyway and when you throw as many as six fantastic courses into the equation it becomes all the more surprising it falls so far under the radar. Around Biarritz are five European Top 100 venues: Hossegor, Seignosse, Golf du Medoc, Chiberta and Moliets. Seignosse is tough but awesome, Hossegor is a terrific heathland, there is a lovely links at Chiberta while Robert Trent Jones’ Moliets completes the picture. Slightly to the north of Bordeaux is Golf du Medoc, a design by Bill Coore which is timeless in its appeal while to the east of Bordeaux is a very good base for your trip to the South East – Chateau des Vigiers.
The South East
On the opposite coast Terre Blanche is the star attraction. It has steadily made its way up the European Top 100 and with an amazing spa and hotel on site, it is golfing paradise found. You might try to call in a favour and attempt to play uber-exclusive Prince de Provence and you shouldn’t miss out on a round at Royal Mougins, which is very much opening its doors these days.
The Open Club
This unique group has outstanding golf clubs within it, set within superb environments and complemented by charming hotels that combine history, tradition, gastronomy and refinement. They offer an ambiance in which you can completely unwind. All the Open Club’s resorts are set in prominent tourist areas famous for their cultural and historic heritage. They range from Belgium to La Côte d’Azur via La Côte d’Opale, Paris, Alsace, Biarritz, Dordogne and Provence. Visit opengolfclub.com