OTHER FRENCH COURSES TO ENJOY
This well-heeled sporting resort on the coast near Le Touquet was planned by an Edwardian property developer as a halfway house between London and Paris. There are secluded garden villas, a comfortable hotel, riding and tennis clubs, and two excellent golf courses – Les Pins and Les Dunes – in the sandy forest. Pines is the older layout (by the legendary British designer Tom Simpson), and a classic of its kind: inviting, natural and a delightful walk in the woods. Dunes is shorter and more American in character, especially around the greens.
The city that straddles the River Loire at its northernmost point has a cluster of good golf surrounding it. The two best courses, Limère and Les Aisses, lie not far apart to the south of town. Limère is well kept and well planned, with an entertaining lake hole overlooked by the Mercure hotel’s restaurant. But few holes stick in the memory.
Les Aisses is something else: of the original 27 holes, 18 have been reconstructed by Martin Hawtree into a heathland masterpiece that stands comparison with Pine Valley and Sunningdale, with fast-running turf, much shaping and moulding around the greens and oceans of heather. Traditional club culture prevails, and the chef is a master of his art, so factor lunch into your visit.
The mystique of this magical golf club in the Sologne, a few miles south of the River Loire at Beaugency, has much to do with its exclusivity. Baron Marcel Bich, of ballpoint fame, hired Robert von Hagge (later to design L’albatros) to make a world-class course on Bich’s hunting estate for his private pleasure.
In the 1990s, it went public and gained a reputation as the best course in France (with clubhouse hospitality to match) before it was taken over by a UK consortium and went private again. Last year the doors opened once more, just a crack. The high green fees may make you pause, but don’t hesitate.