In this blog we’re travelling down south to explore some of the best golf courses in South of France. From the wild Atlantic coastline of the south west of France across to the sunny and calmer climes of the Mediterranean, we’ll take a look at some of the regions best golf courses.
An introduction to South of France
The golf courses in southern France are truly exceptional, with a fantastic array of different styles from exposed links courses such as Golf de Chiberta, uber-private parkland courses like Golf de Vidauban and challenging yet enjoyable heathland layouts which include the likes of ‘Les Chateaux’ at Golf du Médoc and the fantastic Golf d’Hossegor near Biarritz.
It is also one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Running south from Bordeaux to Biarritz, there are large sandy beaches popular with tourists and surfers. Miles upon miles of vineyards surround Bordeaux whilst further south the towns of Biarritz and Bayonne are steeped in history.
Crossing over to the Mediterranean coastline, you have the glitz and glamour of Monaco, Nice and Cannes. The sun-baked coastline is rugged in parts but utterly beguiling, with some of France’s most beautiful towns including Saint-Tropez, Grasse, Ezé and Antibes.
Best locations for a golf trip to south of France
If you were to go on a golf holiday to the south of France, there are some fantastic golf resorts to choose from. However, if you’re looking to be located within a town these are the two locations I would recommend;
The stylish and discerning seaside resort of Biarritz is a fantastic location to play some of the best golf courses in the south west of France. It is also a really convenient base with ample choice of bars and restaurants and a large casino overlooking the beautiful coastline.
Golf courses close to Biarritz include;
- Golf de Biarritz Le Phare
- Golf d’Arcangues
- Makila Golf Club
- Golf de Chantaco
- Golf d’Hossegor
- Golf de Seignosse
- Golf de Moliets
Where else but the glamorous resort of Cannes renowned for its annual film festival, long boulevards lined with boutique shops and luxury hotels. Yet entwined amongst all this are numerous other more affordable accommodation options and plenty of evening entertainment.
Golf courses close to Cannes include;
- Golf de Cannes-Mougins
- Golf de Cannes Mandelieu
- Royal Mougins Golf Club
- Golf de Saint-Donat
- Golf d’Opio Valbonne
- Golf de la Grande Bastide
- Terre Blanche ‘Le Château’
- Terre Blanche ‘Le Riou’
- Golf de Vidauban
The best golf courses in South of France
1. Golf de Vidauban
This uber-exclusive golf course is hidden away in a remote and isolated stretch of the French Riviera, around an hour’s drive from Cannes. Also known as ‘Prince de Provence’, the mystique and surreal history of the course is as intriguing as the quality of the course itself.
A huge plot of land was bought by the prominent golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr in the 70s, as part of a project to turn the area into a multi-course resort with facilities and hotel, with a view to hosting a major tournament at some future point.
Fast forward to today, circumnavigating decades of legal wranglings, personal challenges and near bankruptcy, and instead of a vast multi-course resort, we have the one golf course with no official clubhouse.
But one hell of a golf course it is. It’s like they’ve taken one of the finest courses of southern Spain or the Algarve, and dropped it in the Cote d’Azur. Simply sublime, each hole is a masterpiece and the condition is second to none.
2. Terre Blanche ‘Le Château’
Part of a luxury 5* resort nestled in the hills overlooking the Mediterranean coastline, Terre Blanche is a golfer’s paradise. Aside from the magnificent but pricey onsite resort and fabulous spa, there are two superb golf courses in pristine condition and world-class practice facilities.
Le Château is quite rightly considered the better of the two golf courses onsite and it weaves seamlessly through the Provencal hills. However, don’t be tricked by the elegant aesthetic, as the course is a brute. Over 7,000 yards long, you need to be not just hitting it well, but positioning it well off the tee, especially if you’re looking to score well.
3. Royal Mougins Golf
Another superb golf course designed by the American golf course architect Robert Von Hagge, he of Golf National ‘Albatros’ fame, host venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup. Like the Albatros course which is renowned for its difficulty, Royal Mougins Golf is another technical course which quite frankly at times is a bit difficult for the everyday golfer.
The course which opened for play in 1993, is beautiful and set within an elegant wooded valley in the outskirts of Cannes. The American style of architecture is boldly apparent with the undulating fairways, pristine conditioning, long bunkers flanking the fairways and large water features.
This is a fantastic course and one often ranked in Continental Europe’s Top 100 golf courses.
4. Sperone Golf Club
For this golf course, we’re actually leaving the French mainland and sailing 300 odd kilometres across to the often-overlooked island of Corsica. The island is distinctly similar to the likes of Sardinia which aside from an intriguing French/Italian culture, it isn’t blighted by over-population or rampant tourism. In fact, relatively speaking, it is one of the quieter tourist spots within the Mediterranean.
Right at the most southern tip of the island, perched above the wild and ragged coastline is where you will find the Golf de Sperone. You’re so close to Sardinia here you can even see it off the coast.
The course is sensational, running at times right along the coastline. Although hitting it straight is essential with dense fragrant scrub looking to engulf stray golf balls lining most fairways. This is a fantastic parkland course although it’s one hell of a trip to get here.
5. Golf de Barbaroux
Another golf course, another American architect. This time around, we have Peter Dye who is famed for designing the likes of Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, the 2020 Ryder Cup venue and TPC Sawgrass.
One of Dye’s architectural preferences is the use of wooden sleepers, either lining green side bunkers or in some other guise around the course. And here at Barbaroux, this is apparent on many holes.
This is also fun to play, hitting over a vineyard to reach a fairway, attacking elevated greens and also famous for having the largest green in Europe at over 69 metres long!
6. Terre Blanche ‘Le Riou’
The second course at Terre Blanche golf resort, Le Riou is primarily reserved for its members unless you are a hotel resident.
It has much in common with its sister course, Le Château, albeit not quite so punishing. A significant 500 yards shorter, Le Riou shares the same outstanding conditioning, large fairway bunkers, pristine fairways and well protected greens. Yet what it lacks in length it makes up for in technicality.
Best Golf Courses in South West of France
1. Golf du Médoc ‘Les Châteaux’
Positioned in the heart of wine country, just 20 minutes north of Bordeaux, the Les Châteaux course at Golf du Médoc is quite something.
Deservedly host venue to the 1991 French Open, this is an outstanding championship course which is part heathland, part pine-woodland and part parkland. Bunkers come into play on most holes with water also playing a part on more than a handful of holes.
Great location, great venue, great clubhouse and fantastic course.
2. Golf de Seignosse
Another Robert Von Hagge golf course and unsurprisingly another brute of a course. Seignosse is just 45 minutes north of Biarritz and works its way through one of the native pine forests the region is renowned for.
There are narrow undulating fairways, well protected greens, elevated tee boxes, climbs and descents, doglegs…you name it. But before you cross this one off, it is also spectacular and a feeling of harmony pervades. It is quiet, it is fun and it is well worth playing. Just don’t expect to shoot your handicap.
3. Grand Saint-Emilionnais Golf Club
The newest course on this list, the Grand Saint-Emilionnais golf club opened for play in 2015 and was the first French golf course design for the highly respected Tom Doak.
The course has received numerous accolades in its short lifespan including being named 5th best French course by Golf Digest in 2018/2019 as well as being listed in numerous Top 100 lists showcasing Europe’s best golf courses.
The course has a very British feel to it whilst running through century old oaks and flanked at times by world-famous vineyards. This really is a fantastic work of art and a sensational course to tick off.
4. Golf de Chiberta
One of the few true links golf courses in France, Chiberta was designed by the legendary Tom Simpson and hugs the coastline north of Biarritz. As of the 2nd green you can already see the sea and feel the fresh Atlantic breeze which will inevitably be a factor throughout the round.
Like any links course, the elements and especially the wind come into play on many holes meaning your choice of club is critical. A technically challenging course, stray shots will be penalised and most likely lost, whilst many greens are well protected either by natural contours in the landscape or bunkers.
5. Golf de Moliets
Like Golf de Chiberta, Moliets is part links, park inland weaving through dense pine woodland. Unlike Chiberta, Moliets feels a lot less penned in, and occupies a large and unspoilt plot of land an hour and a half north of Biarritz.
It opened in 1989 and was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. The course isn’t overly penal and can be enjoyed by most levels of golfer as many of the fairways allow for a bit of stray hitting. That said, the greens are narrow and well protected, so scoring well is tough.
6. Golf d’Hossegor
Golf d’Hossegor resembles a typical British heathland course and you could be forgiven for thinking they picked up the course in Surrey and dumped it 30 minutes north of Biarritz. That is until you notice the clubhouse with its Basque architectural influences that you realise you’re in the south of France. Oh, and it probably isn’t raining.
Hossegor is a treat to play and this elegant course dates back to 1927 when Hossegor was a popular seaside resort for the rich and famous. In 2003 the American Cabell Robinson was tasked with updating the course to be more in line with the modern day challenge. A lovely course with a vibrant social side, I couldn’t recommend it more.
There are so many golf courses which didn’t make the cut and on another day would have made it in. The likes of Golf de Saint-Donat, Golf de Cannes Mandelieu, Golf de Nimes Campagne in the Cote d’Azur and in the south west of France, Golf de Chantaco, Golf de Lacanau to name just a couple.
The south of France is so vast and its landscape so varied, this really is an outstanding part of the world for not just one golf trip, but multiple. Your spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the golf courses you play and as I alluded to above, there are so many more I didn’t list out.