Summer is coming very soon, and for many of us, it simply means that it is the time for golf and vacation.
If you are currently planning a golf trip to Europe, make sure to include France on your list. Being one of the most popular golf destinations in Europe, France is the home to so many world-class golf courses offering a wide variety of challenges and experiences.
So, picking the best golf courses in France is actually a pretty daunting task. There is no short answer to this, as many of the courses are highly enjoyable with their own classy layouts and beauties. Yet, here are our top five picks:
Le Golf National (Albatros Course), Paris
It will be very difficult not to pick the host of the 2018 Ryder Cup and the home of the French Open in this list. Le Golf National is located very close to Versailles, and there are three world-class golf courses including the famed Albatros course, one of the most renowned championship golf course in Europe. The Albatros course is a 7217-yard par-72 course that hosts the Open de France since 1991, known for its pristine, outstanding greens and excellent hazards.
The whole Le Golf National is an inland links course, and what’s unique about it is how it perfectly captured the stadium feel with a dune-like landscape. The last four holes of the Albatros are arguably the highlights of the course, surrounding dramatic lakes giving you dramatic challenges and mesmerizing views.
The best part is that the Le Golf National is a public course, featuring a variety of special offers for visiting tourists. You might want to opt for the all-inclusive golf day featuring, obviously, a round of golf on the Albatros, a VIP breakfast, on-course catering, and more. Definitely one of the best golf destinations in France – perfect to enjoy a day in the sun alongside your golf cart.
Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, Southeast France
Terre Blanche is a fairly new golf resort opened in 2004, back then a resort run by the Four Seasons before it went independent in 2012. The resort features not just one, but two world-class tournament courses Le Chateau and Le Riou, and for those looking for a luxurious golf vacation, this one is an excellent pick.
Both the courses are designed by Dave Thomas, the designer of the famous three-time Ryder Cup host The Belfry. The Le Chateau and Le Riou are quite distinct from each other, especially regarding the terrain and shot values. The Le Chateau plays relatively tougher and longer, rich with obstacles with virtually every turn. There are always ponds, trees, or bunkers to offer adequate challenges with each and every shot. Not only it is a challenging course, it is also beautiful where natural beauties serve as obstacles, like how a waterfall is smartly placed on the par-3 second hole.
Le Riou, on the other hand, is more about variety, galloping up and down with a very interesting terrain. It is 700 yards shorter than Le Riou and is arguably more accessible for all skill levels. Yet, only resort guests and members can play on the Le Riou.
Golf de Fontainebleau, Paris
One of the oldest gems in France, Fontainebleau was opened more than a century ago in 1909.
Originally designed by Tom Simpson, the course has undergone several modernizations, although many original features and overall shape were left intact. The Fontainebleau area itself is one of the largest and most beautiful forests in France, and so we can expect the course to be dominated by forest views and terrain.
The course itself is relatively short, only a little above 6,600 yards. Yet, the greens are quite small and cleverly guarded, and so you can expect enough challenges with small targets to aim at. If you are looking for a challenge to improve your short game, the Fontainebleau is the perfect spot.
The surface is sandy and well drained, and it cleverly integrates many of its natural features to add more challenges to the course, like how it incorporates many of the natural sandstones to enhance views while acting as obstacles.
Golf Du Medoc (Châteaux Course), South-west France
The Golf Du Medoc resort is located just north of Bordeaux in the Pian Medoc area. It is a relatively small resort, yet is quite luxurious, as you might not have expected while going through the suburbs before reaching the resort.
The Châteaux course was an award-winning course including the Best French Golf Course in 2014 by the World Golf Awards. The Bill Coore design was unique in many ways, especially in how it cleverly utilize its prime terrain with extremely frequent changes of direction. The course is mainly heathland, and perhaps the 7th hole will best summarize the whole feel of the Châteaux: an extreme driving hole with not one, but two bunker obstacles while also featuring heather bursting out the sandy scrapes. Perfect to practice tough golf shots.
Every April, the Châteaux plays host to the French Schweppes PGA Championship, and so there’s no question about its quality.
Golf de Chantilly (Vineuil Course), Paris
Another course in Paris, the Golf de Chantilly is set amidst the Île-de-France forests, just around 30 miles north of Paris. Founded in 1909, the club has played host to numerous French Opens, and what we have today is mainly from the Tom Simpson redesign in the 1920s. Being an English architect, Tom Simpson is responsible for giving the Vineuil a distinctive British feel.
Being a forest course, obviously one of the key highlights of the Vineuil is the avenues of trees, giving you just that extra challenge in fairway placements. Out of others in this list, Golf de Chantilly is probably the most traditional, including a classic clubhouse that is very British. It might not offer as much challenge as the others, but the Vineuil will be a test of accuracy to avoid the forests.
There are obviously more choices of golf destinations in France, as we have mentioned at the start of this article. Yet, these five offers some of the most unique experiences in France, while also providing you with enough challenges, varieties, and beautiful views.