- More French resorts vying for your attention
More French resorts vying for your attention
More French resorts vying for your attention
We published an article on French resort golf last year, starting with courses on the French Riviera then proceeding through Aquitane and Normany on the west coast before ending up at the National golf centre outside Paris. This time, we set out from the east side of the country then advance southwards along the border with Germany and Switzerland to return to a cluster of resorts in the wonderful Côte d'Azur region on the Mediterranean coast.
Of course, we understand that these two articles only scratch the surface of resort golf in this under-rated golfing nation and there must be dozens of other worthy golf facilities, particularly in the centre of the country, that get overlooked whenever items like this are written. If you know of any such place – perhaps even one that we currently don’t list in our French regional rankings – then by all means get in touch and let us know about it.
Incidentally, we intended to start this resort feature in the Alsace region at Le Kempferhof, near Strasbourg, but we discovered during our research that the club’s hotel – formerly a 19th-century country hunting lodge – is currently closed, so we sadly had to exclude this establishment.
We begin instead on the southern shores of Lake Geneva, where the 18-hole layout at the Evian Resort has annually staged the Evian Championship on the Ladies European Tour for almost 30 years now. The course dates back a lot longer, to 1904 to be exact, when Willie Park Junior laid out the original nine holes at the club. Cabell Robinson updated the layout in the early 1990s and Dave Sampson of European Golf Design carried out further upgrade work a decade ago. Evian is now regarded as one of the major tournament-hosting venues on the ladies’ professional circuit.
Two kilometres from the course, you’ll find the 5-star Palace Hôtel Royal, offering 150 rooms and suites across seven floors, with its Les Fresques restaurant awarded yet another Michelin star last year. Nearby, the 4-star Hôtel Ermitage has 80 guest rooms and family suites which vary in size from 17 square metres for a south facing room to 45 square metres for a Lake View suite. If you want a more intimate experience, the Manoir du Golf (originally a family home built in 1911) is located right beside the Golf Academy, with several rooms and suites available for stay and play golfers.
Château de Taulane
Four hundred and forty kilometres south of Geneva, Château de Taulane lies within a 840-acre domain in the Var department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeast France. The course is something of a rarity as it’s one of the few European tracks ever produced by Gary Player’s design firm. Fairways are routed around seven lakes and quite a few of the holes are carved out of forest so there are plenty of aquatic and arboreal hazards to contend with. Playing corridors are reasonably wide though, so it never feels as if it’s an overly penal round when playing here.
Accommodation in the on-site 4-star hotel – converted from a former 18th century residence – comprises 29 rooms and suites and it’s possible to rent another 18 rooms in the annexes of the castle for larger groups that wish to take over the entire property for a special event. The spa features an indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and Turkish bathing. Massages and treatments require advance booking. In the Trattoria da Mario restaurant, buffet breakfast is served from 7:30am to 10:00am; lunch from 12:00 noon until 3:30pm; then dinner in the evening from 7:00pm.
An hour’s drive from Château de Taulane towards Cannes is where you’ll discover the Royal Mougins golf resort and its 18-hole layout. Yet another design from the prolific portfolio of Robert von Hagge, the course extends to just over 6,000 metres, playing to a par of 71, and fairways are set out across hilly terrain, with a flatter forest area on a valley floor. Holes are routed around eight lakes which are linked by a river system, with waterfalls and streams to enhance the visual aesthetics.
A valued member of the IMG Prestige network, Royal Mougins boasts an on-site 4-star hotel with 29 design suites (each of 50 square metres) and a spa located in an authentic 19th country house containing treatment rooms, a jacuzzi, outdoor pool and a solarium. The Royal Garden restaurant just off the 18th green enjoys superb views across the domain, allowing guests to savour the specialties of the Mediterranean menu in a sublime setting.
Fifty-five kilometres east along La Provençale A8 autoroute sits Les Domaines de Saint Endreol Golf & Spa Resort, which first opened its doors to visiting golfers in 1992. Designed by Michel Gayon, the course occupies hilly terrain to the north of the Rocher de Roquebrune mountain, with fairways clinging closely to the contours as holes wind their way around the meandering River Endre. Measuring almost 6,200 metres from the back tees, the layout concludes with three tough par fours at the 15th, 16th and 18th (rated stroke index 5, 1 and 4) so no flagging permitted over the finishing holes here!
The 4-star hotel offers 50 air-conditioned rooms – classed as Standard Prestige or Superior Prestige – all of which feature a kitchenette and balcony. The spa has an indoor pool with counter current, a stream room, a solarium, separate men’s and women’s sauna and a deep relaxation room. The restaurant fucuses on local, seasonal produce and during the summer there are barbecue evenings twice a week.
Heading another 45 minutes west on the A8 highway brings you to the Barbaroux Golf, Hotel & Spa complex near Brignoles. Pete Dye and his son PB are credited with the design of the golf course in the late 1980s and it certainly splits opinion with reviewers on this website – love it or loathe it, this is one of the more unconventional golfing layouts that you’ll ever play and it’s also one you’ll not forget in a hurry. There aren’t too many examples of the Dye design style in Europe and this is one of the more controversial specimens.
The adjoining Mercure hotel extends to 52 air-conditioned guest rooms, each with its own private terrace. The Golf Brasserie hosts golfers after their round in the dining room or on the terrace overlooking the fairways and the Spa boasts several traditional (and not so traditional) relaxation options, including a Scandinavian-style sauna, a hot steam bath hamman, a sensory shower and an ice fountain.
We finally reach the south coast of France and the Mediterranean Sea at the 27-hole Frégate Golf Club Provence on the heights of Bandol, between Marseille and Toulon, where Ron Fream set out the 18-hole Frégate course and 9-hole Frégalon short course in the early 1990s. Occupying a cliff top location, with vineyards and olive groves surrounding the property, the tree-lined fairways lead to large, lightly bunkered greens which are very hard to read when the coastal winds get up.
The 4-star golf hotel Le Frégate Provence incorporates 100 guest rooms and suites, spread out over two typical Provençal buildings, with the accommodation facing south over the golf course and the Mediterranean beyond. Next to the hotel, Les Bastides Residence provides 15 double rooms and 15 apartments (for 2-4 people), each with a private terrace facing on to a pine forest. There are also 3 tennis courts, 2 pétanque courts, 5 swimming pools and the wellness centre includes a sauna, hot tub and fitness area.
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