Highly recommended resort golf in France
So far in this series of articles about resort golf in Europe we’ve concentrated on Portugal and Spain but now it’s time to look further afield and check out what’s on offer to the north of the Iberian peninsula in the much under-rated golfing nation of France. With the six resorts profiled below, Deauville has 27 holes in play and the other five each boast two 18-hole layouts at the same location.
We start in Provence Côte d'Azur in the southwest corner of the country at the Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, which is a European Tour Destination. The five-star hotel comprises over a hundred suites and villas designed as a charming Provencal village with cobblestone alleyways set amid lovely gardens. There’s also a large infinity pool, tennis courts, spa, fitness centre to support the excellent golf facilities.
Both 18-hole layouts, the Château and Le Riou, are Dave Thomas designs that first opened for play at the start of the new millennium. The Chateau currently resides within our Top 10 for France and it also commands an impressive position in our Continental Europe Top 100 chart. The courses are complemented by the Albatros Golf Performance Center which extends to a two-story driving range with Top Tracer and Wellputt technologies providing top training and analysis backup.
Seven hundred kilometres west of Terre Blanche, less than a 1-hour drive from Bordeaux, lies the Golf du Médoc resort with an on-site 4-star hotel providing 79 rooms and suites for visiting golfers. There’s also an indoor heated pool, steam room and treatments available at the spa and wellness centre and the club restaurant serves gourmet regional dishes accompanied by the best local wines from its Millésime cellar.
The Châteaux course is a late 1980s layout designed and built by Bill Coore with Rod Whitman. It was one of the first in the Coore portfolio (his one and only European project) and the Vignes appeared a couple of years later, after Rod Whitman returned to set out the second 18 holes at the resort. It’s very interesting to see how the design careers of both men have taken off since those early days close to the wine capital of Europe.
Another seven hundred kilometres north of Médoc into Normandy sits the seaside resort of Deauville and Le Golf Barrière Deauville. Constructed in a Belle Époque style in 1912, l’Hôtel du Golf with its 271 rooms and suites looms large over the golf course. Resident golfers have literally a 100-metre walk from the front door to the first tee and during the annual American Film Festival famous actors like Sean Connery, Michael Douglas and Samuel L. Jackson have done just that in years gone by.
Tom Simpson laid out the original 18-hole course – the Rouge and Blanc nines are sometimes referred to as the Diane Barrière layout – in the late 1920s. By the 1960s, Simpson’s 27-hole plan was in operation, with Henry Cotton given credit for introducing the Bleu nine (the Lucian Barrière layout). It’s such an elegant place to play golf then relax afterwards in the recently renovated clubhouse in front of the hotel.
Our French resort journey takes us 240 kilometres north next to the small seaside town of Le Touquet on the Côte d'Opale. Le Touquet Golf Resort operates a 41-bedroomed boutique hotel which was once the family home of a founder member and it even served as the clubhouse before conversion to a hotel in 1950. La Table du Manoir restaurant is highly recommended for its cusine and meals are served here every evening except Sundays.
There are 45 holes in play at Le Touquet. The 18-hole La Mer links is located a 10-minute walk from the clubhouse, on the coastal side of the Avenue François Godin, with the 18-hole La Forêt and 9-hole Le Manoir set out further inland. The courses have changed over the years – not least because of damage during World War II – but the Harry Colt-designed La Mer has been sympathetically restored in recent times and it’s well supported by the other twenty-seven parkland holes.
Half an hour’s drive along the coast, Les Golfs d’Hardelot has two 18-hole courses with separate clubhouses on two different locations and in between lies the 81-room 3-star Najeti Hôtel du Parc which has a heated outdoor swimming pool, sauna and three tennis courts. Catering options are available at the Najeti Restaurant l’Orangerie and at Le Saint-Laurent bar.
Les Pins is the flagship layout at Hardelot, redesigned between the wars by Tom Simpson and his associate Philip Mackenzie Ross, and Frank Pont has spent time here in recent years working on a well-received restoration project. Les Dunes is a modern, early 1990s design by Paul Rollin and this parkland-style track contrasts beautifully with its older, sandy-soiled sibling.
The Golf Pass Le Touquet - Hardelot allows golfers to play three of the four 18-hole courses (La Mer, La Forêt , Les Pins and Les Dunes) at the two resort and it’s valid for seven days from the date the first course is played. The offer is available from mid-April to mid-October and a supplement of €17 per green fee must be paid on a Saturday, Sunday (before 2 pm) and public holidays – it’s great value for €219!
Le Golf National
We end our French resort feature in Guyancourt on the southwest outskirts of Paris at Le Golf National, which is also a member of the European Golf Destination consortium. The 4-star Novotel Saint Quentin Golf National hotel is situated overlooking the Ryder Cup golf course, with some of the 131 bedrooms enjoying views of the iconic water-laden last four holes.
The L’Albatros course was where the unforgettable Ryder Cup action took place in 2018, when Europe heavily defeated the United States of America team and it’s ably backed by both the 18-hole L’Aigle layout (designed as an inland links) and the short 7-hole L’Oiselet which is used mainly for training purposes. This national golf facility will again be in the spotlight when it stages the Olympic golf events in 2024.
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