Not many people think about a golf trip to France. Spain, yes. Portugal, yes. Turkey, yes (political climate depending). Yet the suggestion of France normally gets a slightly confused look. That's a shame as there are some fantastic options and some quality golf which will knock the socks off most countries in the rest of Continental Europe.
Playing golf in France is, in many ways, similar to an experience in the UK. Many of the courses were designed by some of the great British architects of the early 20th century and produce fine tests which wouldn't be out of keeping with the wonderful Surrey belt of courses. On top of that, some of the best modern resort courses around can be found here - Terreblanche in the south being a great example.
On top of that, the ambience at many clubs is like you will find in the UK - for example the lunch at Morfontaine beats even the venerable Muirfield fare. Courses are usually presented in great condition and while the standard of play on courses will be variable, the enthusiasm cannot be faulted.
If you are looking for somewhere to base yourself for a few days then there are two places which come to mind. Firstly, the Paris area has Morfontaine, Fontainebleau, Saint Germain, Chantilly and the National, all within a relatively easy drive. Morfontaine is blow-your-socks-off amazing. I have never played an inland golf course as good as this. If you ever get the chance to play there then drop everything and go! The others all have pros and cons but any combination would be strong - I thought Fontainbleau was very special.
The south of France is another area to consider. It was the scene of my very first golf trip and didn't disappoint. Terreblanche is excellent, Taulane very good and there are a whole bunch of great tour fillers down there such as Cannes Mougins, Saint Donat and Grasse
Golf in France isn't cheap but it often represents good value and with a little planning you can get something which more than holds its own among other, better known, European venues.
I have written up the courses I have played around Paris here, the South will follow next!