I feel well positioned to rank the best golf courses in France. Partly because I’ve played all of them!
Like a lot of people, I love it when a new Top 100 golf courses list is released, the excitement of seeing which courses have moved up the list and which have inevitably been bumped down.
But let’s be honest, aside from a major project of redevelopment, a brand new clubhouse being built or maybe a year of poor maintenance negatively impacting the playability, do golf courses really change that much?
I’m not a cynical person, but I’m not trying to sell a magazine or drum up interest for viewing numbers. What you get below is an unranked, but comprehensive list of the best golf courses in France. Nothing more, nothing less.
The French version of Swinley Forest, in so many ways. Extremely private; crafted through ancient woodland; beautifully manicured; a golf course which is testing yet thorougly entertaining…it’s like walking back in time. It’s absolutely no surprise the course is regularly ranked as one of, if not the best in Europe. Expect immaculate condition and very few other people to be at the course.
Uber-Exclusive and without doubt one of the best golf courses in France. This members-only golf course is an absolute gem and unfortunately very few people will get the chance to play here, unless you know one of the handful of members. And when I say handful, it literally is a handful. This really is the epitome of millionaire’s golf. But don’t let that detract from what is a truly outstanding golf course. Manicured to perfection, this is like the French version of Valderrama nestled in amongst the Provencal hills, away from the noise and distraction of everyday life.
The 2018 Ryder Cup venue, the Albatros course is quite simply a beast. A long, punishing and wind-swept course, ensure you take plenty of balls to plot your way round. Aside from the elements, you have penal rough, vast amounts of water and multi-tiered greens. So tough, and yet, so enjoyable.
Not far from the stunning Chateau de Chantilly, Le Vineuil golf course is regularly ranked as one of the best in Europe. It has held the French Open on numerous occasions with our own Nick Faldo having prevailed back in 1988 and 1989. A sublime layout in outstanding condition just 30-45 minutes drive north of Paris.
A Harry Colt masterpiece which meanders through the rough and exposed sand dunes of the Cote d’Opale on the northern French coastline. Just 35 minutes drive from the Eurotunnel, this is one of the most popular courses frequented by the legions of British golfers making the pilgrimage across the Channel to this golfing mecca.
The iconic Von Hagge masterpiece just a couple of hours drive from Paris. It also happens to be one of the most challenging golf courses in France with huge carries over water, island greens and wide bunkers being just some of the ‘enjoyable’ features on offer. Unfortunately strictly private, getting a tee time here will be as much a challenge as the course itself.
Nestled up in the Provencal hills, 45 minutes drive from Cannes, is the luxury golf resort of Terre Blanche, with two outstanding golf courses. The Chateau course is gruelling, over 7,000 yards long and incredibly challenging. The course weaves through beautiful rolling hills and the condition is really second to none.
This Tom Simpson woodland masterpiece is utterly delightful. Weaving through majestic woodland, with elevated tee boxes, well-crafted bunkers and numerous rock formations for which the area is renowned, this is quite simply one of France’s, if not Europe’s, best golf courses. Just over an hour’s drive south from Paris, this is a unique course not to be missed.
Not far from central Paris is the private member’s club of Saint-Germain. Harry Colt was the course architect entrusted with job and this pristine layout evokes all the characteristics and intricacies we’ve come to love and expect from his designs. A classic parkland layout, not overly challenging but thoroughly enjoyable, especially if enjoyed with a lunch from the iconic clubhouse.
Deep in the heart of wine country, the resort at Golf du Médoc is simply sensational. A golf and wine lover’s paradise. With two courses onsite, Les Châteaux is by far the better. Huge bunkers, wide fairways with penal rough. Immaculate greens and ample water…this is championship golf at its finest.
The Pines course at Hardelot Golf Club is simply sensational and recently enjoyed a substantial makeover with the objective of reinstating the courses original features. Pine trees line the beautifully crafted fairways, which have hosted numerous championship events over the years. One of Europe’s Top 100 golf courses.
Golf des Aisses
Where to start….completely unheard of, in the middle of France in an area not reknowned for its golf and yet simply sensational! This was for many years, a relatively uninspiring course which only recently enjoyed significant investment under the supervision of the experienced Fred Hawtree. Now…it is divine, like somone picked up the best of Walton Heath and the Berkshire, and dropped it off here….
This private member’s course located a half hour’s drive from Paris, has had significant funds thrown at it including hiring the renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. There are two courses onsite but the Marly course is the one to play. Wide expansive fairways, beautifully crafted bunkers, this is a fun course…assuming you know a member who can get you on!
Golf de Kempferhof
Weaving between hundred year old oaks and set within idyllic countryside, Kempferhof is a majestic course positioned close to the French/German border. Designed by Robert Von Hagge, the same sadistic individual responsible for the punishing Albatros course at Golf National, this is pristine French golf at its finest.
An hour and a half’s drive from Calais and the Eurotunnel exit, is the very under-stated Golf de Belle Dune. A municipal course and extremely good value for money, this is one not to be missed when visiting Le Touquet. Part parkland, park links, this is a fantastic test of golf. As unpretentious as they come and thoroughly enjoyable.
Robert Von Hagge, who designed the Ryder Cup hosting Albatros course at the Golf National, was also busy in the south of France masterminding the Seignosse golf course. Weaving through pine woodlands and expertly making the most of the natural undulations, this is a beast of a course. Water, narrow fairways, elevated tee boxes…buckle yourself in.