A golfing holiday in Normandy is easy with Brittany Ferries. With the largest choice of crossings to France, you can mix and match your route, with journey times from just three hours to relaxed overnight cruising. Just pack your clubs and UK driving license, drive to the port, onto the ferry, off again at the other side and straight on to your accommodation or golf course. Hassle-free travel and a great game of golf await!
Golf was introduced to France by English expats who built the country’s first golf course in 1856 in Pau, marrying the British ‘game of kings’ with the French art de vivre. Since then golf has slowly become more and more popular. And although Paris’ hosting of the Ryder Cup in 2018 gave a boost to French golf tourism, you’ll still find plenty of room on Normandy’s impressive near-50 courses.
A game of golf anywhere in France is a relaxed affair. You can expect an unhurried pace of play on uncrowded fairways, most courses welcome visitors, and some even allow dogs. There are no long waiting lists, it’s inexpensive, some clubs don’t require players to have handicaps (a numerical measure of their golfing potential), and booking a tee-off time is easy and year round. Plus, if you don’t speak French don’t worry: golf is ‘le golf’, a birdie is a birdie, a green is a green and a driver is a driver!
Normandy is perfect for golfers of all styles. From the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel to the Alabaster Coast, the Perche to the Seine Valley, the Cotentin Peninsula to the Pays d’Auge, there’s something to suit everyone. Perched on the chalk cliffs overlooking the Bay of Etretat as depicted by Impressionists Monet and Boudin, Le Golf d’Etretat is all about coastal drama and regularly ranks among the best places to play golf in France. It’s a demanding 18-hole course which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2008.
Also on the coast, Le Golf de Granville boasts 27 holes at Bréville-sur-Mer, four miles north of the pretty fishing port of Granville. It’s perhaps the only course in France to have retained a purely duneland setting, giving it a wilder edge over its counterparts. In recent years, the club has made a concerted effort to restore the natural links quality of the course, by reseeding with carefully chosen grass varieties and refurbishing the bunkers. There are some spectacular tees, with views reaching as far out as Jersey.
Above the chic seaside resort of Deauville, Le Golf Barrière de Deauville is an elegant, 27-hole complex on Mount Canisy, overlooking the bay and the town. There may not be water on the course, but strategically placed bunkers and quick greens make it a challenge to score well – and for newer players, there’s the option of a nine-hole course designed by renowned architect Henry Cotton in 1964.
We couldn’t write a golfing guide to Normandy without mentioning Le Golf du Champ de Bataille in the grounds of the eponymous chateau. It’s the region’s only forested course, providing grand, tree-lined fairways edged with rhodedendrons in late spring, and a dose of culture to boot. Having trouble choosing a course? On 18 June 2020, hundreds of golfers and spectators will descend on Normandy’s most famous courses for the Normandy Charity Golf Classic. Organised by Brittany Ferries’ Golf Desk in partnership with Normandy Tourism, it’s a key date to add to your diary this year.
A golfing break in Normandy isn’t just about the greens – it’s about the French lifestyle too. Combine golf with visits to the wonderful beaches, countryside brimming with apple orchards and ancient towns with half-timbered houses, plus the region’s fine food and wine. There’s nothing more French than soaking up the atmosphere in historic towns and picture-perfect villages, visiting markets or simply sitting at a café people-watching with a glass of something chilled.
Brittany Ferries make it easy to sail to Normandy, and from its ports, you’ll find it’s simple to travel further afield with a superb road network that takes you into the rest of western France. Your UK driving license is still valid for driving in France. So what are you waiting for? Time to tee off!