Clive’s Commentary: Paris in the Spring is Perfect for Lovers (of Golf)

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As we near the dark depths of winter… spring getaways will be on the mind of many.

Exclusiv Golf de Rochefort at just 45 kilometres west of Paris, this golf course is set amidst beautiful countryside and is part of magnificent chateau with a great clubhouse to match. The course itself is of a conventional woodland layout and was designed by Fred Hawtree. This course meanders through the spectacular natural setting with stunning panoramic view across the valley of Chevreuse and provides a great golfing experience.

The course is set on 271 acres of woodland and its fairways are guarded by a corridor of ancient trees. This undulating par 71 golf course measures 6,223 yards and has been compared to some of the best in Scotland. This is not a complicated golf course but still requires a strong shot making skills and a cool temperament. The sand in the soil allows the golf course to remain in good condition and to be played all year.
There is also some practice facilities at the Exclusiv Golf de Rochefort, consisting of driving range bays (three sheltered) and a putting area.

img_0231Within the clubhouse there is a fantastic restaurant named “The Albatross.” Open throughout the year, this restaurant has seating with spectacular views across the Valley of Chevreuse and serves traditional French cuisine.
Exclusiv Golf de Rochefort is situated 20 miles southwest of Versailles and seven miles south-east of Dampierre.
Think of Paris and most people conjure up an image of elegant people, wide boulevards, high-stepping chorus girls and mad motorists showing little regard for the sanctity of human life. Golfers, however, are unlike most people and are less interested in sipping a café crème on the pavement than they are in locating a decent golf course — especially when the principal alternative is shopping.

Thanks to Brittany Ferries, you can sail overnight from Portsmouth in the south of England to Caen in the north of France and then drive for about three hours to reach the outskirts of Paris. Apart from arriving early in the morning and therefore not wasting a day, the considerable advantage of the ferry is that you can take your car and consequently easily transport your clubs from course to course.

Whether or not you approve of the more relaxed attitude to golf that the French have adopted will depend on whether you are more inclined to the traditional or progressive wing of life. If the sight of jeans on a golf course and young children frolicking on the fairways is likely to trigger an apoplectic fit, then it might be as well to give France a miss. However, if you believe that golf is fun and should not be the exclusive preserve of the staid and stuffy, then put on your shorts, throw away those ridiculous long socks and that hideous striped tie and enjoy yourself.

img_0232Apart from a significantly different attitude to the game itself, the other area of marked contrast is in the kitchen. Bar snacks, chicken and chips in a basket and other culinary abominations are eschewed in favour of beautifully prepared food and proper cuisine. For the French, the dual appeal of golf is that it fills up the downtime between meals as well as sharpening the appetite. So a three-and-a-half hour round can be followed by a lunch or dinner of almost equal length. Whatever you might think of the attitude the French have to le golf, they are all off single figures when it comes to dining afterwards.

The best golf near Paris is concentrated in three regions: Chantilly, Fontainebleau and Versailles. All three are blessed with beautiful countryside and great golf courses. And so take my advice when you are next in the French capital, give the coffee shops a miss and tee it up instead.

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