In this article, we’re going to explore the best golf courses in Paris, as well as look at some of the best places to stay when on a golf trip to Paris.
An introduction to Paris
The boldly romantic city of Paris is renowned for many things, its beauty spots, stunning monuments including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe, as well as its culture and gastronomy.
But one thing it is not globally renowned for, are the golf courses in Paris. Popular golf destinations such as Le Touquet and Biarritz in France, the Algarve in Portugal and the Costa del Sol in Spain would all be on the list of places to visit for great golf.
But you couldn’t be more wrong.
In fact Paris and its surrounding area not only has the greatest collection of Top 100 golf courses in France, but possibly in Europe. Within an hour or so’s drive, there is such a vast choice of exclusive and formidable courses, it’s a miracle the city still doesn’t get the accolades it rightly deserves.
What are the best locations for a golf trip to Paris?
If you were to go on a golf trip to Paris, there are three locations I would recommend;
Known worldwide for the magnificent palace which is a tourist destination in its own right, Versailles is without a doubt the most popular Paris golf destination. There is a variety of accommodation options to choose from but more importantly, a large quantity of golf courses surrounding it.
Golf courses close to Versailles include;
- Le Golf National
- Golf la Boulie
- Golf de Saint-Germain
- Golf de Saint-Cloud
- Golf de Joyenval
- Golf de St-Nom-la-Bretesche
- Golf de Fontainebleau
To the north of Paris lies Chantilly, another town made famous for a stunning landmark, in this case the Chateau de Chantilly which dominates the town. It is also surrounded by its own horse racing track, the Chantilly Racecourse.
The town is elegant and medieval in places, but far more modest and quiet compared to the likes of Versailles.
Golf courses close to Chantilly include;
- Golf de Chantilly
- Golf de Morfontaine
- Golf de Lys
- Golf d’Apremont
- Golf de Raray
- Golf de l’Isle Adam
- Golf de Mont-Griffon
The town of Enghien is as close to Paris without actually being in the city. It’s possible to get a train into the city (as is the case with Versailles), but still convenient enough to get out to the golf courses.
With a large Barrière casino and choice of bars and restaurants, this is a great alternative.
Golf courses close to Enghien-les-Bains include;
- Golf de Domont-Montmorency
- Paris International Golf Club
- Golf de Saint-Germain
- Golf de l’Isle Adam
- Golf de Mont Griffon
The best golf courses in Paris
One of the most exclusive golf courses in the world, apart from a few like-minded blogs and websites online, you’d be hard fetched to find any information on it.
The club belatedly has a website, but to stress how private it is, they’ve even underlined the word ‘strictly’ in the sentence ‘Access to the course is strictly reserved for the use of members and member’s guests’!
For those lucky few who do get the opportunity to play here, by god are you up for a treat. In immaculate condition, located in a quiet woodland, this is the match for any of the best classic British heathland courses.
The ancient forest of Fontainebleau is where this magnificent golf course is positioned. This is another private course although you can get tee times during the week and one I couldn’t recommend more.
The course weaves through the dense woodland and is epitomised throughout with large natural rock formations which are quite unique. Elevated tee boxes, wide tree-lined fairways and crafty bunkers, this is a delight to play.
Having hosted the French Open on numerous occasions, this elegant parkland course is regularly considered one of Europe’s best golf courses. There are two courses onsite, but it is ‘Le Vineuil’ which takes the plaudits.
At over 6,000 metres long, this is one tough cookie. The greens are well protected, there are large swathes of rough and with numerous dog-legs, don’t expect to walk away with a pretty scorecard.
Unlike some of the other courses in this list, Saint-Germain golf course will not leave you feeling beaten and disillusioned. Quite the opposite in fact, Golf de Saint-Germain is a delight to play.
Yes, you need to be accurate and yes you need to play strategically, but if you don’t, neither is it overly penal. And playing here is to play one of Harry Shapland Colt’s finest architectural feats.
What a contrast to the previous course on this list, the Albatros course at Le Golf National is quite frankly a beast to play.
It is a long course, with narrow wind-swept fairways, hefty carries from the tee, surrounded by long wispy rough and it has a touch of water…well, maybe more than just a touch.
Made famous as the host venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup, it is just over 5 minutes drive from Versailles and is a must-play.
Joyenval golf club is probably one of the least well-known on this list, and for good reason. Unless you live close to it or know a member, you’re unlikely to have ever heard of it, let alone played it. The club has very little interest in trying to grow its international reputation and is quite happy serving the needs of its affluent members.
What a shame.
There are two courses onsite, the ‘Marly’ and the ‘Retz’, both designed by the world famous golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., and both are quite frankly superb. Part woodland and part parkland, the course is in immaculate condition year-round. It is also home to quite an impressive clubhouse.
Jack Nicklaus’ only course in France, Paris International Golf Club, is quite magnificent. Very American in style, it has wide undulating fairways flanked by water features with large island greens.
The back nine, arguably the better of the two, climbs up into the fringes of the Domont forest and features numerous elevation changes and dog-legs.
At the epicentre of the course is a large opulent chateau-style clubhouse, with top class facilities and a wonderful restaurant. At the time of writing, there are only two ways to play here. Either you know a member, or you visit in July or August when all their members have gone away on holiday.
8. Golf de Saint-Cloud ‘Vert’
Located within the outskirts of Paris, this is another private club with two 18 hole golf courses onsite. The ‘Vert’ (Green) course is the better of the two and has on no less than 14 occasions been the host venue to the French Open.
It was designed by Harry Colt and is famous for a stunning view on the 8th and 9th holes, all the way across Paris to the Eiffel Tower. This is a wonderful parkland course which is set across undulating terrain meaning on a number of holes you’re either hitting down to a green or driving up to a large fairway.
Like Paris International Golf Club, although reserved primarily for members and their guests, you can get a tee time here during July and August in the holiday season.
9. Golf de Saint-Nom-la-Bretesche ‘Rouge’
Surprise! Another private golf club on this list with two golf courses reserved just for members and their guests. Although like some of the aforementioned, there is some flexibility getting on here during the summer months.
There are two golf courses at Saint-Nom, the Red and the Blue, both designed by Fred Hawtree of Hillside and Fontainebleau fame. The club received significant recognition in the 80s and 90s due to regularly hosting the prestigious golf tournament Trophée Lancome. Although not world-class courses, expect top-class conditioning.
Hidden away in the vast Domont forest is another Fred Hawtree designed course, Golf de Domont. This is one of my hidden gem golf courses in France, a superb woodland course which meanders its way up and down the hilly terrain.
There are a couple of fantastic elevated tees and wide fairways flanked by dense woodland. The bunkers aren’t too penal but if you’re not hitting it straight, good luck. A lovely course I thoroughly recommend playing.
11. Golf de Crécy ‘Vignoly’
A relatively new kid on the block having been opened in 2009, Crécy is the only French golf course designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer. And this is American golf course design typified – big fairways with boldly undulating contours whilst water features litter the site as do the sixty plus bunkers.
Although incredibly affordable and very welcoming towards visitors, its location to the east of Paris means it is away from all of the locations I’ve recommended. That said, there is a hotel onsite and doing a one-nighter here might not be a bad idea to tick this fabulous course off the list.
The last on this list is one I have a soft-spot for. Another Fred Hawtree designed course which is nestled in amongst a large woodland, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Yet again there are two courses here, neither of which far outweighs the other although I would personally veer towards the East course. The back-nine is where many of the more impressive holes are to be enjoyed with a wonderful par-3 finisher, only 150 yards but which drops about 30 metres to a slightly hidden green.
In my eyes, the above are the top golf courses in Paris and they are a match for any European golf destination. Regardless of where you reside, this will not be a cheap golf trip though. Each of these courses above will cost a fair whack, but remember you are playing some of Europe’s finest.
Likewise, many of the above are private but I would always recommend sending the club an email and then just be patient. Travelling during the summer months of July and August will exponentially increase your chances of getting access to them.