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France


stadium finish a good Ryder Cup deserves. Happily, we were within minutes of room, shower, dinner and a welcome glass of wine thanks to the on-site Novotel. Those on the third floor slept in suites named for previous guests, and winners, such as Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell. However in September 2018 the future Ryder Cup stars such as Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson will eschew the Novotel and will bed down in Waldorf-Astoria’s Trianon Palace in Versailles. When in France, my golden rule is to play


as much golf as possible. The choice is huge, on-course congestion is rare and green fees are affordable. So on this occasion, I headed north, around Paris, into deepest Normandy, always a favourite for its lush green fields, cows that provide the milk for Camembert and Brie, and apple and pear orchards that supply the raw materials for Calvados. By lunchtime, we were in the picturesque


village of Coquainvilliers, near Lisieux, inspecting the distillery founded by Pierre Auguste Boulard, 190 years ago. Still in family hands, it follows age-old procedures for converting apples into brandy and then maturing that into Calvados in oak barrels in the extensive cellars. There was no shortage of custom in the sampling room. And no shortage of lunch, with wafer-thin smoked salmon sandwiches, tasty raſts of foie gras, dried hams, soſt cheeses and apple tart. And Calvados in several varieties. Was this good preparation for golf later in the day? Time would tell. The first golf course at the baroque castle,


Chateau du Champ de Bataille, built by American Robin Nelson in 1992, started and finished in the castle gardens. In the interests of the owners’ privacy, however, it now operates out of a new clubhouse deep in the forest a mile down the road. This puts it firmly in the ‘hidden gem’ category, a charmingly rural layout with no intrusions from the outside world. It’s like playing in a bubble, variety and quirkiness on the course, beer and relaxation on the tiny terrace off it. Next up, Deauville, the most fashionable


watering hole on the Normandy coast. The beach has colourful changing cabins named for Hollywood stars of yore, while the Hotel Barrière Le Normandy, is known for its casino. On the outskirts of town, the Golf Barrière,


stands on a hilltop with views over the Channel and 27 holes of pristine golf. British influence is strong with the original 18 championship holes created by Tom Simpson in 1929 and remodelled by Sir Henry Coton in 1964. Like Sean Connery and Michael Douglas before me, though with less expertise, I teed off on wide fairways, enjoying impeccable greenkeeping on holes designed to bring a sense of achievement to experts and hackers alike. Who could ask for more?


86 ABTA Golf 2017


ESSENTIALS


WHEN TO GO: Year-round; best weather from April to October. GREEN FEES: Albatros, from £125 (golf-national.com); Deauville £42 (golf- barriere.com); Champ de Bataille £30 (champdebataille.com). FLIGHT TIME: 1h. GETTING AROUND: Self-drive using ferries or the cross-channel tunnel is the most convenient. CONTACT: uk.france.fr; visitparisregion.com


Golf Barriere Deauville


IMAGE: GOLF BARRIERE DEAUVILLE


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