Within the land of baguettes, burgundy wine and architectural wonders also lies many of the world's best golf courses. France, well known for the Eiffel Tower, Rue de la Pais and most recently a decree banning women from wearing trousers in Paris, has also created some of the most difficult and creative courses in the world.
Several public golf courses in "L'Hexagone" as referred to by its citizens, have caught this golfer's attention, wondering whether or not it is worth shlepping clubs halfway across the world and incurring excessive luggage fees on the airlines for the effort and expense of playing in the land of professional Euro Tour golfers Gregory Havret and Thomas Levet.
Learning that there are areas within France easily accessible to the Chunnel and also within my guidelines of "beach", "gaming" excitement and luxurious accomodations, how could I not consider vacationing within the confines of the most spectacular properties in some of the most desirable locations in France?
I recently read up on the Lucien Barriere chain of three to five-star luxury casino/golf hotels which dazzle the eyes as well as the senses. Some of these delightful properties are located in Southern France, others are within the Loire and Normandy and one of their properties, Hotel Fouquet's Barriere, is the first one ever built on the Champs-Elysées.
Other top-rated hotels in the area include the Dolce Chantilly and the Chateau de Montvillargenne.
Chantilly, Fontainebleau and Paris International Club are all within walking distance from the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower so a golfer can bring along the family to wonder at the Musee de l'Air et de l'Espace or the Basilique de St-Denis and have a bounty of choices for where to leave a divot!
Chantilly has hosted the French Open ten times and has a challenging championship layout. Fontainebleau is a nature-lovers dream and is set in a sandstone forest where peace and tranquility set the stage and the International Club is a Nicklaus parkland wonder considered to be one of the finest manicured courses in all of Paris. All are ranked among the top courses in Europe and impeccably maintained.
Golf afficionados may be interested in the five-star Hermitage Barriere La Baule, located along the Loire River and the largest port in France because non-golfers can play on the sandy beach while duffers can try their luck on one of the two eighteen hole courses, the Diane and Lucien Courses, or spruce up at their nine-hole executive course. Any time Jack Nicklaus' name graces an Academy be sure that there will be instructors as well as outstanding amenities on hand to prepare you for your rounds.
If you are considering old world aesthetics and charm as well as some of the finest golf near LeHavre, the elegant, five-star Hotel du Golf Barriere Deauville may be your choice for a restful holiday. Although this luxurious resort is not located beachfront, it is only three-minutes away from Deauville on the coast of Normandy, considered the "queen of the Norman beaches".
Views of Deauville compliment the New Golf Barriere de Deauville three nine-hole courses with no water worries but bunkers which are fearsome.
Here are just a few more golf courses to make note of for afficionados who will search out the toughest tests of the sport during their French vacation. Les Bordes Golf International is consistently rated as one of the top five golf courses in France. Medoc Golf Club, consisting of the Chateaux and Vignes courses played host to the 1999 French Open and is located near Bordeaux, French wine country.
Being out of the USA, the rules of play are governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A). There is a bit of a language barrier although some of the basic terms like bogey, bunker and fairway remain the same. It would be polite to learn a bit of French aside from "Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais?" before you visit as I understand that the people consider it rude to address them in English.
But, are the French really rude or is this just another myth coming from those who simply don't respect or understand another country's culture?
Here are a few French terms that should be learned by le Américain:
Fore! Balle! (pronounce as "shall")
golf course terrain / parcours de golf
water hazard obstacle d’eau
If you are new to the game, travel around Easter to partake in the annual event introducing new players to the sport known as Tous au Golf.
Deciding where in Metropolitan France to stay can be a daunting task as the country is the largest in area of all in the European Union. From scenic areas in Normandy to the heart of the action in Paris, wherever you finally decide to hang your "chapeau" will be a grand experience!
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Rick Bragg: How to Grovel - *(This is the first of what may be an occasional off-golf-topic piece because I want to share my other nonfiction writing with more readers. Thanks as alwa...
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