OTHER FRENCH COUR­SES TO EN­JOY

France - - Ryder Cup Golf -

Harde­lot, Pas-de-calais

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.

Or­léans, Loiret

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.

Les Bordes,loir-et-cher

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.

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