Enjoy your game of golf in the sunshine!
From a golfer's perspective, the Cote d'Azur is a premier golfing region with 20 different golf courses to enjoy– each one is different, and some are definitely more challenging than others! So, whatever your handicap, all of the courses promise good golf amongst stunning scenery with spectacular panoramic views of the countryside and coast. The weather in the French Riviera is perfect with more than 300 days of sunshine each year and most courses offer club and trolley hire - just in case you didn't bring yours with you. The spotlight has been swung onto French golf courses following the country's hosting of the Ryder Cup in September 2018. The French golfing story begins in 1856 with the opening of its first golf course in Pau by some enthusiastic Englishmen. The golf course in Pau was not only the first in France, it was the first in mainland Europe. Since then, golf has been perennially popular in France and is listed as one of the nation's most popular games – and even more popular than Pétanque!
100 years of great golf in France!
Many of the golf courses in the Cote d'Azur have a long, rich history. Beauvallon is one of the oldest 18-hole courses in the region, as it was founded in 1923 when the rich and famous from more northern climes sought winter sunshine in the Cote d'Azur. Golf de Biot and Royal Golf Club of Mougins- Cannes- also opened in the late 1920s and they too have rich histories. The attractive golf course at Opio Valbonne is set in 220 hectares of undulating countryside in the grounds of Chateau de la Bégude, surrounded by century old trees and a Gallo-Roman aqueduct. Chateau de la Bégude is a 17th century bastide that has been completely renovated and is a very special setting for the clubhouse.
Challenging golf at the côte d'azur!
Whatever your handicap, the golf courses in the Cote d'Azur can be challenging. Terre Blanche is an impressive hotel spa resort with two championship courses – Le Chateau and Le Riou. Both courses are 6,000 metres in length – a distance many golfers find testing. Riviera Golf de Barbossi is another attractive, but technical course, that is not very wide and has challenging approaches to some of the greens which include some water obstacles. Golfers enjoy playing on the Barbaroux course as it has an American design and character but nevertheless, its holes are described as 'tantalising and tortuous' and there is a standing joke in the clubhouse that big golfers don't cry! The Royal Mougins course at Cannes is another course with plenty of history and is set in woodland on the edge of the village of Mougins. The course is home to the Cannes Open and is a true championship course with spectacular holes and rolling greens that are defended by large white bunkers. One of the biggest challenges of all is to be found on this spectacular Cote d'Azur golf course. The second hole at Royal Mougins is named 'Le Sant de Ange' - 'Jump of the Angel' and it is recognised as one of the most spectacular and testing Par 3 holes in the world. There are three challenging courses to be enjoyed near the village of Grasse – best known for its perfumes. The first is Claux Amic which is tucked into a hillside below Grasse. This course is relatively hilly. Its design does make the most of the natural contours, but nevertheless it is a challenging course for golfers – especially as it is easy to be distracted by the stunning views over Cannes!
The second golf course near Grasse seems quite a well-kept secret as it is on a large plateau that is found down a long winding lane above the town. Chateau de Taulane was designed by Gary Player and is a really well laid course with some beautiful water features to add to the fun. Grande Bastide is the third course and is situated in a large shallow basin in the countryside near the village with high hills as a magnificent backdrop. This golf course has an American character and again has some attractive water features. Several of the holes are relatively close together, but this doesn't seem to bother the players. In sharp comparison, Bauvallon overlooks the coast at Saint-Tropez and is a fairly flat course that is moderately difficult (Par 70) as it does have some trees and water hazards to negotiate! It is ideal for those who prefer an easier course to walk and is ideal for players with a handicap of up to 35. There are electro trolleys and electro buggies for hire there too. Golf de Briot in Monte Carlo is another old course and a rather mountainous one that is moderately difficult. The course is a spectacular one to play on as it stands 900 metres above the sea with great views over the Mediterranean region. Opio Valbonne is located conveniently close to the airport at Nice for those seeking a mini break on the golf course and this one is certainly a challenging course as its front nine holes are shorter than the back nine. The holes are situated amongst the hills and there is an elevated tee shot for the final hole – which catches many players out!
If you are looking for a challenging and very different type of golf course, Cannes Mandelieu will certainly tick all the boxes! This beautiful golf course was one of the first in the Cote d'Azur and is a flat course, with much of it situated under parasol pines. The course is actually divided into four quarters by a railway line that runs north to south through the course and a river that runs east to west! Amusingly, the railway is negotiated using a bridge and the river, with the help of the friendly ferryman definitely making it a memorable game!
Much more than a golf course...
Golf de Roquebrune Resort has been described as the 'jewel in the crown' of the region's golf courses and lies just ten minutes from Saint Raphael and St Maxime. Situated within a nature reserve and offering breath taking views over the bay of Saint Raphael, it is a really challenging 18-hole course as it is hilly in places and some of the holes are not overly long. Playing an enjoyable game of golf in such wonderful natural surroundings really boosts your senses and 'joie de vie' as well as being good for your handicap! In the spring, there is the added bonus of seeing snow-capped mountains too. Perfect for good golf courses, the countryside in the area is also good for hiking, which provides a tempting alternative to the golf course and of course, down at the coast there are boats to hire and coastal walks to enjoy. Golf de Sainte-Maxime is an 18 hole course that is situated near the sea with lovely views that include the fishing port and the bay of Saint-Tropez – not that you should take your eye off the ball! This course has good fairways but some of the holes are short and require some real skill to achieve an on-par score of 71 for your round. The course has nine holes that are relatively flat and then a memorable back nine that are situated on the hill behind the clubhouse. La Turbie in Monte Carlo stands 900 metres above the coastline and boasts amazing panoramic views. The course was first opened in 1911, but the course was remodelled in 1983 and certainly presents some tricky manoeuvres!
Good facilities for non-golfers too.
Most of the golf courses have good facilities for non-players including an attractive club house for relaxing with a good book. The course at Royal Mougins also has a lovely outdoor pool and spa – so you will not be missed whilst you are out on the greens! Many golf courses have extra facilities to help improve your game and these include driving ranges, putting greens, chipping greens and practice bunkers. There are Pros on hand to help advise you and a number of courses offer tuition for all levels of play. Golf Blue Green in Sainte-Maxime nestles amongst scrubland and forest, overlooking St.Tropez and is the perfect place to book a package of lessons which are available at both beginner and advanced levels.
And great après golf too at the côte d'azur...
After a really good game of golf, what better way to relax then in the clubhouse? Many of the golf courses have the added bonus of a good restaurant where guests can enjoy Provencal cuisine that is rich in flavour and colour – a good example is the popular Z Restaurant at the Golf de Roquebrune Resort. One of the four restaurants at Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Resort is run by a dynamic chef and has been awarded a prestigious Michelin star. As you relax over a good meal and fine wine, the toast is always - A votre Santé et bonne chance pour la prochaine fois - Your health and good luck for the next game!