Golfing Holiday – In the beautiful Loire Valley of France

By: Corina Clemence

In France there are 280,000 registered golfers for 340 courses. This translates into lots of available tee times and no crowds on a course. Tourists visiting France who bring along their clubs will not be disappointed or have to face the challenges of arranging tee times as they typically do when visiting Ireland and Scotland.

An unhurried pace of play results from this opportunity for tee times. Golfers can usually walk in on their own without reservation and make their own tee times at courses in France. There is ample space in front of you and behind you while playing golf in France.

A good holiday golf destination needs the following; good accommodation at a reasonably decent price, plenty of bars and restaurants for your evening entertainment. The Loire valley area in France offers great accommodation at a reasonable price, lots of things to see and do and, of course, a multitude of superb courses. This region has been providing a temporary home for golfers from England for the past few years.

It is a visually striking area and one that definitely deserves special attention for any budding photographers out there. One of the Loire Valley's chief attractions is that usually an impressive, majestic castle overlooks the golf course.

Ardree, a rolling parkland with natural lakes, is overlooked by a turreted 16th century chateau that is awaiting development. As its names suggests, Chateau de Cheverny is a grand setting for an afternoon's golf. The course was designed in 1989 and is located among 350 acres of gorgeous woodland, lakes and open countryside for a quite magnificent experience. Tourraine is another beautiful course. Although short, its raised small greens make approach shots extremely tough while various natural hazards keep you on your guard at all times.

Les Aisses is another of those European style courses where you can choose from three loops of nine to form your round. Limere Orleans and Chateau des Sept Tours are also not to be missed.

The finest course in the area, however, is Les Bordes, consistently ranked in the top 5 of France's best courses. The golf course is a work of art and thoroughly deserving of its secluded location not far from Chateau Chambord. In terms of cost and convenience, Les Bordes is eminently achievable and should rank high on your itinerary.

Built at the behest of the industrial magnate Baron Marcel Bich (of the Bic empire) and his Japanese trading partner, Mr Yoshiaki Sakurai, Les Bordes was originally designed as a private club for their own pleasure and that of their friends. Leading architect Robert von Hagge was contracted and handed a simple but determined brief "to create a golf course that would prepare French golfers to play the finest courses in the world without being intimidated".

In accordance with the owner's wishes, scrupulous care was taken to minimise disruption to the surroundings, and what was once Bich's hunting domaine has been blessed with a course that has been ranked as one of the finest - and toughest - in Europe. Best of all, the place retains an air of privilege and privacy, but is without the tiresome airs and graces that can so often put you off a destination.

Construction began in 1984 and, with money no object - a useful clause in anyone's contract. Von Hagge's creation is today the centrepiece of a course that enjoys to the full its charmed position in the Sologne, the ancient lake-studded forest at the heart of the Loire Valley.

The risk-reward element is very much the name of the game at Les Bordes, and though the course does open up a good bit on the homeward nine, your ball-striking is tested even more thoroughly, with the slightest errors multiplied the further back you choose to play. Jean van de Velde's course record of 71 gives you some idea of just how demanding the course is, not that the difficulty should in any way put you off playing here.

Les Bordes is one of only two courses in Continental Europe to enjoy the highest rating in the Peugot Golf Guide to 1000 European courses. All in all, the Loire Valley offers everything the travelling golfer requires.

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Corina Clemence operates Chateau du Guerinet near Blois, a luxury castle in the Loire Valley, for up to fifteen people ideal for touring vineyards, chateaux and perfectly located to play on all these golf courses. You can rent the entire chateau exclusively for holidays, weddings and parties or rent one of the six luxury suites.Hire french chateau. Rent a castle in France.

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