If you are a keen golfer, someone who’s just started or maybe even someone who just likes “getting away” for a weekend and a “golf break” sounds like the perfect excuse then I have come up with 10 of the best courses in France.
Why France you might ask, well, when looking at golf breaks there are plenty of places to play here in the UK however most people forget (or maybe don’t realise) that going to play golf in France could actually take less travelling time, with potentially better weather - who doesn’t love that! Travelling time from the UK to France can range from just 45 minutes up to 2 hours which, lets face it, isn’t really much travelling time at all but feels like a mini holiday. You are able to choose from either travelling via plane or train. The Euro Tunnel is 35 minutes from Folkstone to Calais and (if you want to) you can take your own car. Prices can vary quite a bit but if you book early enough in advance you can usually get a pretty good deal. This also applies to flights, book early enough and flights can be cheap also. Just a little pointer to remember if you do choose to travel via Euro Tunnel and take a vehicle you will need to carry a reflective jacket (one for each occupant), a warning triangle and spare bulbs - you can purchase a European driving kit for approximately £20.
Golfing Holidays in France are becoming more and more popular. With the Ryder Cup being magnificently hosted by ‘Le Golf National’ at the end of September 2018 France has, and is, going through what can only be described as a ‘golfing revolution’.
So let’s get on with it. Below are (in my opinion) the BEST 10 golf courses in France.
Number 1 - Morfontaine, Grand Parcours.
The Morforntain golf club is located approximately 50km (1 hour) north of Paris.
Golf De Morfontaine is a hidden gem of a golf course dating back to 1913. This place is stunning to say the least, reminiscent to the likes of Heathland courses such as Walton Heath - where we saw Eddie Pepperell play so well only a few months ago. I would even compare it to our very own hidden gem on the southern coast of England in Ferndown.
Not overly long, by current standards, measuring approximately 6500 yards from the back tee’s. Fairways are generous, lined with tall pine trees which you can see sway ever so gently in a slight breeze but with big undulated greens, well protected by bunkers you will be challenged by your approach shots as well as it all being pleasing to the eye.
I could not give this course enough credit, however, there is a catch! It is a private club which makes in increasingly difficult to be able to play without knowing a member or such like.
I have included this into my list as the Number 1 best course in France otherwise I wouldn’t be doing ‘my’ top 10 justice. If you ever get the chance to play here take it with both hands! You will not be disappointed.
Moving on to places you are actually able to go on your golf holiday in France.
Number 2 - Le Golf National
Staying around the Paris area we have the place that, if you are a golf fan, you would have seen Molliwood and Co recapture the Ryder Cup in late September of 2018 and is also the home of the French Open.
A course that was set up to be brutal if missing the fairway off the tee was hugely profitable for Europe in the Ryder Cup. However, this is not a normal from. What we see in the French Open is obviously a completely different times of year.
This course measures approximately 7400 yards from the back tee’s but plays a lot less from the more playable forward tee’s.
I would compare this course to our very own Ryder Cup course in recent history, The Celtic Manor 2010 course.
Wide open where you can see forever but with an awful lot of water in play. In addition, this place is a resort with hotel onsite. This hotel is a 4* hotel with 131 rooms and even has rooms with views of the famous last four holes of the course. This hotel offers a restaurant and bar. We all know about the recently refurbished Ryder Cup course - The Albatros, but the resort also boasts the two additional courses in the L’Algle and L’oiselet. Just 25km from the centre of Paris it ticks off all boxes when looking for a great golf break.
Number 3 - Chantilly (Vineuil Course)
For those disappointed that it would be difficult to play on the Morfontaine, Grand Parcours course fear not!! - This course is 45km (30 miles) north of Paris and was designed by the same British Designer/architect as the Morfontaine, Tom Simpson. The Vineuil course is one of two courses here at the Chantilly.
This course hosted the French open in years past with the likes of our very own Nick Faldo a champion there. Measuring approximately 6400 yards from the backs tee’s this course is not the longest championship type course of these days but a very stern, British type test of golf. The course is built through a forest with well positioned menacing bunkers. The average amateur will need length and accuracy to score well here (and if you want to avoid the tree’s and bunkers which is advisable).
Chantilly is an ideal place to go for a midweek golf break (i say this as the course is actually closed to visitors on the weekends).
Number 4 - Golf D’Hardelot (Les Pins Course).
Hardelot is going to be one of the closest courses to the UK being only 30 minutes from the Channel tunnel/Calais - cant ask for closer than that!
In keeping with the theme of both Morfontaine and Chantilly this course was completely re-designed by Tom Simpson in 1931 and even though the Dutch pair, Frank Post and Patrice Boissonnas spent 3 years re-working the course they used the old photo’s and drawings in keeping with the Tom Simpson design.
The course now has much widened fairways, enlarged greens and penal deep bunkers. The fairways with its sandy soil, like a links or heathland course are a delight to play from. Holes are lined with gorgeous tall pines and have magnificent strategic bunkering, D’Hardelot could be an ideal first stop on your French golf holiday before either trying D’Hardlots second course Les Dunes that opened in 1990 or moving further on up to play one of the other beautiful courses on this list.
Number 5 - Le Touquet (Le Mer Course).
Le Touquet is a similar distance as D’Hardlot being only approximately 30 minutes from the Channel Tunnel/Calais making it another perfect golf break destination, either for a weekend break or if you fancied staying longer there is plenty to do around the area or a lot more golf to be played on its other courses. Le Touquet has been described as northern France’s premier golf destination and is an award winning 45 hole resort.
The Le Touquet course is probably the best links like course in France albeit it is semi parkland, with tall mature pine trees, a course that winds through big coastal dunes and has the most stunning views of natural beauty.
Not only has Le Tourquet not rested in knowing it has a naturally stunning links like course but have gone further to make it a serious championship contender of years past. It hosted the last of its French Opens in 1977, won by the one and only Seve Ballesteros.
The key to playing Le Mer well is putting, put simply. The greens are large and undulated as well as hard and fast. Your approach shots will need to be accurate as if you think it looks as though it breaks about 6ft from right to left, it is probably more like 8ft (yes that much)!
The great things about Le Touquet is that it is a true golf resort with two 18 hole courses and an additional 9 hole hole course which makes it a fantastic golf break for any ability.
Number 6 - Medoc Resort (Chateaux Course).
Heading down southern France now just north of Bordeaux, number 6 on my list, Les Chateaux. This is a fantastic place for, not only a golf break, but for anyone who enjoys a glass of wine!
This course is another past host of the French Open and it is very easy to see why! The course has bits of everything mixed into it and works so well. An inland links feel mixed with heathland type gorse, wide fairways and huge greens, oh and obviously not forgetting the water to. What more can you ask for in a golf course? Its clear that this course would test every golfers ability.
If your preference is to have your golf holiday in the sunny south of France this could be a great choice. This is another lovely resort with an excellent hotel onsite with fantastic spa facilities and two golf courses to be played so there is plenty to do either for a short golf break or a longer golfing holiday. Its pretty easy to get to as well as you can easily fly into Bordeaux from most UK airports with the flight only being around 90 minutes long.
Number 7 - Fontainebleau
We haven’t had enough Tom Simpson courses I hear you say, well, heres another one (lets face it, he did design some crackers)!
In the middle of a forest 30km south of Paris here is another golf break destination easily commutable from Southern England.
With fairways that cut through the huge forest with the most amount of trees seen on a golf course you will also see a lot of wildlife and even some wild deer if you are lucky.
The course itself is not overly long by todays standards but does have some long holes. The way this course was set up makes it a really tough test, some long second shots and obviously with the vast amount of tree’s you’ll be lucky not to get blocked out once or twice. Probably its biggest defence being the big undulated greens which sometimes have many tiers so being on the right level or even the right side can be crucial.
Number 8 - Le Chateaux (at Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort).
Here we have a large (circa 300 hectare) new American type resort and golf course(s) opened in 2004. Le Chateaux stands out because of its spectacular water features. Located in the southern region not far from the famous Cannes this resort is quickly becoming a favourite of everyone that visits it.
A hugely demanding championship course that can stretch up to approximately 7500 yards if required from the back tee’s - not to worry, they have plenty of forward tee’s for us regular golfers who cant quite hit it 350 of the tee. You are able to take advantage of some truly excellent facilities here. There is a two tier 64 bay driving range and a grass range available between May and October, two outdoor and indoor putting green, two short game greens (accompanied with bunkers). Terre Blanche has a second course which is quite a bit shorter which rewards precision and strategy over hitting the ball a mile.
This 5* resort is a must if the South of France is where you would like to go. It can provide an excellent destination for golfers and non-golfers with spa facilities and many restaurants, including, the Michelen Starred Le Faventia.
Number 9 - Chateaux De Taulane.
This 120 hectare site designed by Gary Player opened to golfers in 1992, 55km north of Cannes. This resort can only really be described as tranquil. A lovely place to relax, unwind and play golf. The course itself is truly a work of art from Mr Player, where he has let the natural countryside help him create a special place.
The meandering holes make their way through forests, beside streams and up and down mountains. Both nines lead back to the foot of the Chateaux terrace onto a magnificent double green - one thing to remember when playing this course is to have your camera with you as I can guarantee you will want to take some photos.
The 18th Century Chateaux was transformed into a quirky typical french-like hotel providing an excellent place to stay.
Number 10 - Cannes Mougins Golf and Country Club.
The club and golf course has been around since 1923, however, not until the 1970’s when Peter Alliss and David Thomas made changes and upgraded the layout, did it become a true great. Hosting European tour events in the 80’s and 90’s won by the likes of Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam. This course can play long at 6900 yards off the back tee’s but can be much reduced to circa 6000 yards off the front (yellow) tee’s.
There are still quite a few par 4’s under 400 yards which give plenty of opportunities with short irons if you’ve got your drive away. This course, even though open to visitors is still very much a members course where they demand that their course be kept in pristine condition, so you can expect immaculate fairways, lovely raked bunkers and fast greens that run as pure as you could like.
If going to the south of France on a golf holiday, this place is a real must play.