chateau de taulane - 16 POINTS
Taulane is not the most accessible golf course in the world. It's an hour a half in the hills up from Nice airport and doesn't get a huge amount of passing trade. But if you do make the trip up the hill, you will be rewarded with a challenging but playable course, in superb condition, which will leave you wanting to come back for more.
The course was designed by Gary Player and opened for play in 1992. There are 7 lakes in play on the course and many holes are carved out of the forest, so there are plenty of hazards around. Having said that, the course never feels ridiculously tight and, as long as you keep a good eye on the strokesaver for runouts and layup distances, you should be fine.
I have played Taulane a few times, alas before the days of the mobile phone camera, and I don't think the pictures on the official website really do it justice. The setting is really beautiful - dramatic mountains and a beautiful forest. The other thing that really stands out for me is the quality of the conditioning. In high summer, the course has always been wonderfully kept with carpet-like fairways and greens that were a joy to putt on.
This is one of the few courses where I would consider taking the buggy on offer. Normally I prefer to walk the course but this is relatively hilly and the temperature would be the deciding factor for me. If it's a pleasant day then you should be OK walking, but in the summer it can get tremendously hot - I remember playing it when it touched 40 degrees centigrade and, without the buggy, I'm not sure we'd have got around.
I would say that Taluane is the only course in the area that gives Terre Blanche a run for its money though it is a more understated affair. There are great practice facilities and a lovely hotel attached, but the drive means that it is a quieter place and feels a little less of a commercial beast.
BOOKING THE COURSE
You can book the course directly on the website here. However, it looks like they don't show all the times available so you can give them a call if you need to - English is widely (and well) spoken here so don't let that put you off! The course is open from the end of March until October and green fees are €100, 7 days a week, in July and August and €75 Monday - Friday and €85 at the weekend for the other months. This is great value and if you plan stay in the hotel you may get an even better green fee depending on what offers they have on - make sure you ask.
Taulane is up in the hills, about an hour from Grasse and 90 minutes from Cannes. It all depends what kind of trip you are looking for whether you decide to stay here. The rooms are better value than Terre Blanche but you are still a bit away from the action up here and there's not much to do really apart from enjoy the bar and restaurant at the hotel. A better bet, I think, would be to stay on the coast, hire a car, and drive up for a game.