In this article I lift the lid on the best places in France for a golf tour. With its unique mixture of culture, gastronomy and top class golf courses, this country has everything to offer for a perfect France golf tour.
I love a golf tour. Travelling away somewhere playing three or four of the best golf courses (normally Top 100s if we can), with a group of friends, enjoying great golf and meals out in the evening. What’s not to enjoy?
A golf tour is also a great way to explore and discover parts of the country you wouldn’t normally have seen. Hence why when travelling abroad for a golf trip, I would always steer towards a golf tour.
Yes it will most likely be more expensive compared to the other solution which is staying at a golf resort. For one package price you get all your golf, accommodation and food sorted.
But the golf tour holds this aurora of intrigue and excitement, specifically the exploration side. Driving off each morning to locate the golf course of the day, which inevitably doesn’t show up on the sat-nav. Each course will have its own unique atmosphere and character. Discovering the clubhouse, are there outstanding views, what is the vibe…just so many different elements which makes it so much more exciting.
Clearly the other benefit of a golf tour is the nightlife element which particularly if you are staying in a town centre hotel, you can wander out in the evening for a couple of drinks with a wide choice of restaurants to choose from too.
So what are the key elements you need for a great golf tour?
As far as I am concerned, these are the three core ingredients;
- Accommodation and Location: A hotel located within a town centre which has plenty of bars and restaurants
- Golf courses: A minimum of three different golf courses to choose from, ideally with a couple being Top 100 golf courses and each no more than a half hour’s drive from the town
- Cost: This last one is relative to each individual but more often than not, I imagine the average person would be looking to keep the cost down rather than have a limitless budget
None of these are exclusive in any way or non-negotiable. If your hotel is located just outside of a town, that’s fine! If they’re not all Top 100 golf courses, again, absolutely fine. It is easy to get completely preoccupied with Top 100 golf courses yet there are literally thousands of amazing golf courses which don’t sit within the Top 100 rankings just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. It’s just nice when you can tick one off every now and again.
And finally on to France. Based on the three criteria above, a golf tour in France should be high up on your list. You have the mecca of Le Touquet which is an annual pilgrimage for thousands of British golfers.
Deauville and Trouville on the Normandy coastline, the elegance and class of Biarritz on the south western coast close to the border with Spain. And of course, the glitz and glamour of Versailles, close to Paris the capital city.
Golf tour to Le Touquet
- Accommodation and Location: 5 / 5
- Golf courses: 4 / 5
- Cost: 5 / 5
The first town centre which fits our criteria perfectly is Le Touquet Paris-Plage (commonly known as Le Touquet), a seaside resort located in northern France just an hour’s drive from Calais and the Eurotunnel exit.
This coastal resort was once the holiday retreat for rich Parisians flocking to the coast to get away from the bustling city. With its fresh sea-air, long pristine beaches and choice of good dining options, you can understand why.
Le Touquet continues to be popular, less so with Parisians but instead with thousands of golfers who come to enjoy the great golf courses close to the town as well as the lively nightlife, be it bars, restaurants, casino or nightclubs. It appeals to groups of all types and budgets, especially with its wide range of hotel options, from 2 star up to 4 star, most within walking distance to the town centre.
From a golf perspective, there is a fantastic variety of outstanding golf courses all within 45 minutes’ drive. Just 5 minutes away from the town is the Le Touquet golf club with its two golf courses, La Mer and La Foret.
La Mer is without doubt the better of the two, a Harry Colt masterpiece which has hosted the French Open on numerous occasions. This is a challenging layout which weaves through the sand dunes and is without doubt one of France’s top golf courses.
Hardelot golf club is located 30 minutes’ drive up the coast and like Le Touquet golf club, has two courses onsite, Les Pins and Les Dunes. Although Les Dunes is a fantastic course and has benefitted from significant investment the last decade, Les Pins remains the pick of the two. Designed in 1934 by Tom Simpson, it is a traditional heathland layout having recently undergone extensive works to bring it back to its original design. Both these courses are worth the drive.
Golf de Wimereux is a traditional links layout a bit further away back towards the Eurotunnel so best played on your way down or back home. And the last course of note is Belle Dune golf course, a relatively modest yet utterly sensational layout located 40 minutes south of Le Touquet in a protected wildlife area. Without doubt one of the courses not to miss.
Golf tour in Deauville & Trouville
- Accommodation and Location: 4 / 5
- Golf courses: 3 / 5
- Cost: 4 / 5
Another great location for a France golf tour are the twin towns of Deauville and Trouville, separated by the estuary of the river Tourques on the Normandy coastline.
There is a real juxtaposition between these two towns. Firstly Deauville, glamorous and up-market with its 5* luxury hotels, elegant beaches, boutique shops and lavish casino.
Trouville on the other hand, a more down-to-earth, friendly atmosphere, with restaurants spilling out onto the pavements selling fresh catch-of-the day on the menu du jour.
Like Le Touquet, there is something for everyone with a range of hotels from 2 stars right up to 5 stars.
Something I would recommend is to look out for the Lucien Barrière hotels, where you can benefit from a golf package. This essentially allows you to play a whole host of surrounding golf courses as part of a package price, making some of the more up-market hotels suddenly very affordable!
I’ve only given the golf a three out of five and it is not due to a lack of choice, but instead proximity. There are really only three decent courses close to town i.e. within 10/15 minutes’ drive, these being Golf de Deauville, a fantastic Tom Simpson parkland course, Golf de Saint-Julien and Golf de l’Amirauté. Unfortunately Golf de Deauville Saint-Gatien, albeit close to town, is simply not to the same standard.
The next best golf courses are then all over an hour’s drive away. Omaha Beach golf club has four loops of 9 holes and is well worth the drive, not just for the awesome golf and sumptuous lunch, but if time permits to explore some of the historic landmarks and places made famous during the D-Day landings in World War II.
Etretat golf course is again over an hour away, right up on the coast and epitomises cliff top golf with sensational views across the Channel. Lastly Champ de Bataille golf club towards Le Neubourg, also an hour from Deauville, and quite simply a majestic woodland layout – this really is one of France’s undiscovered gems.
Golf tour in Biarritz
- Accommodation and Location: 3 / 5
- Golf courses: 4 / 5
- Cost: 2 / 5
Another elegant seaside resort on France’s southwestern coast, Biarritz became famous in the early 19th century as a holiday resort for the French royalty.
The town has plenty of character especially around the seafront where luxury hotels and casinos overlook the long sandy beaches including the iconic rocky outcrop called the Rocher de la Vierge, which is only accessible via a footbridge, but offers stunning panoramic views back towards the town and coastline.
Although there are plenty of hotel options, not all of them would be suitable for a group of golfers, i.e. offering parking or storage for clubs. One I’ve always personally stayed at is the 4 star Tonic Hotel, right near the seafront and it is used to a golfing clientele.
But there are other choices with the pick of the bunch being the superb 5 star Hotel du Palais, a chic and stylish hotel prominently positioned overlooking the beach. It goes without saying there is an ample choice of bars and restaurants for the evening’s entertainment.
To get here, you can fly directly into Biarritz airport, but there is a limited flight schedule so you’ll need to be flexible. Alternatively, although not exactly convenient, there is a much wider choice of flights going into Bordeaux, but you’re then looking at a two and a half hour drive down the coast.
The better option in my eyes, assuming you can’t go directly into Biarritz, is to fly into Bilbao across the border in Spain. There are numerous flights and it is just over an hour and a half’s drive along a pretty fast motorway with at times some scenic Atlantic views.
So on to the golf. Although there is not a wealth of golf courses, what is available is top class. Starting furthest away, Golf de Moliets is just over an hour, but oh my worth the drive. Half links style, half pine forest, this is an outstanding course which doesn’t receive half the plaudits it should.
Continuing down the coastline just 45 minutes from Biarritz is the Robert Von Hagge (he of Golf National fame) designed Golf de Seignosse. An undulating course which winds through narrow pine forests, with dog-legs, plenty of water and elevated tee boxes, this is not for beginner golfers!
Closer still to Biarritz, around 40 minutes away is Hossegor golf club which has all the hall-marks of a traditional Surrey heathland course. Other great options include Biarritz le Phare golf which is minutes from the town centre and the beautiful and also under-rated Chantaco golf, a hilly parkland layout you will simply adore with its beautiful Basque clubhouse.
So if you can get past the awkward travel arrangements, Biarritz really is a top-class golf tour destination and an outstanding choice for a France golf tour. That said, be prepared to spend a little more than some of the other options on this list.
Golf tour to Versailles
- Accommodation and Location: 3 / 5
- Golf courses: 5 / 5
- Cost: 1 / 5
The last destination on our list and one you may not have considered, is Versailles, a town renowned and revered for the grand Château de Versailles. The palace was in times past home to French royalty including notably Louis XIV, who was responsible for most of the building work and for a short period even moving the French government to Versailles making it the capital of France.
These days it is a hugely popular tourist destination, with every year hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting the majestic palace and its gardens. But if you venture a little further away, you’ll discover some of France’s most iconic and exclusive golf courses. However, before we move on to the golf, let’s explore the accommodation options.
There is a small selection of hotels which cater well for golfers ranging from the more economical Hotel du Cheval Rouge, a 2 star option which is as central as you can get. At the other end of the scale is the luxury 5 star Waldorf Astoria, just a few minutes walk from the town centre.
Other options include the MGallery (4 star) and Hotel Le Versailles (3 star), also both centrally located so perfect to explore the town.
So we swiftly move on to the golf courses and this is where Versailles is a class above other French golf tour destinations. Within just a 30 minute drive is a decent selection of some of Europe’s finest golf courses, and within an hour’s drive, quite a number more.
We start with the Golf National, home to the famed Albatros course, host of the 2018 Ryder Cup, which is a mere 15 minutes drive away. Just 5 minutes from Versailles is Golf La Boulie, with two fantastic courses of which Le Vallee was the first golf course built in the Parisian region in 1906 and not long after hosted the French Open.
The Green course at Golf de Saint-Cloud, just 20 minutes away, was designed by Harry Colt and has hosted the French Open an impressive 14 times. There are two super private golf clubs within a short drive, Golf Saint-Nom-la-Bretesche and Golf de Joyenval. Both are home to two championship courses and both are simply outstanding. However, getting tee times is another different challenge!
One of my personal favorites, 20 minutes away, is Golf de Saint-Germain. Designed by Harry Colt, this is the equal of many of Surrey’s finest heathland courses. Be sure to enjoy the clubhouse lunch.
A couple of other notable mentions, albeit just over an hour’s drive away, include the exceptional Golf de Chantilly, north of Paris with its iconic Vinieul course as well as the superb Fontainebleau golf club, an hour south of Versailles. Both golf courses are regularly ranked in Europe’s top 10 and are well worth the drive.
However, nothing is perfect, and where Versailles is let down is ultimately the cost. Getting tee times at these exclusive private clubs will cost you dearly. That said, it is a price well worth paying and a golf tour you will never forget.