If you are planning to take your first golf holiday abroad in 2020, Le Touquet in Northern France is definitely the place to start.
This superb resort has been attracting Brits for nearly 100 years. Back in the 1920s and 30s it was the haunt of sophisticated Francophiles who could ‘pop’ over to the continent in small planes, landing on the Le Touquet runway which still exists today. It was equally popular with Parisians and become known as Paris-Plage (Paris on the beach).
Of course, the endless beach was only part of the attraction, the golf courses were equally enticing to all, including the wonderful author PG Wodehouse, who wrote so many witty stories about the game. The Le Touquet golf holiday was born.
Nowadays you of course don’t need your own plane to reach Le Touquet. The Eurotunnel and ferry service take you into Calais and it’s a straight run of about 45 minutes into Le Touquet. Sadly there are no longer ferries directly into Boulogne which made the journey even easier.
Once through Etaples and over the bridge – look to your right you can see the runway – you enter the cosmopolitan world of Le Touquet. Tree lined avenues, imposing villas, exclusive shops…Le Touquet will bring out the best in you.
Le Touquet La Foret has been open for play since 1904 and has stood up exceptionally well to the test of time and the changing demands of the game of golf. Starting right next to the clubhouse, it is deservedly popular with players of all abilities. Dangers lurk if you find yourself veering off the fairway and don’t rush your stroke on the greens, take time to study the line. The bunkers are not too threatening but hit hard through the sand.
Golf proved to be an attractive lure to visitors so plans were hatched for a second, more challenging, links course. Who better to design it, than the golf course architect of the moment, none other than Harry Colt. He lived up to his impressive reputation, creating the outstanding Le Touquet La Mer links.
The temptation to play this new course proved too much for an avid royal golfer. The then Prince of Wales secretly played the course for a few days before it opened in 1931.
Over the ensuing decades the course layout gradually altered. Now, after the discovery of aerial photography from the 1930s, golf architects and leading course restorers, Patrice Boissonnas and Frank Pont have returned the course to what closely resembles Colt’s original design and it’s as brilliant as ever.
Their research led them to uncovering four lost holes, the 13th to the 16th. Boissonnas said: “It is like finding treasure in a treasure hunt. We were able to restore Colt’s original dogleg right par-5 15th, described by his design rival Tom Simpson as one of the best he’d ever seen. Returning the 16th to its original setting has also allowed us to reinstate a spectacular downhill par 3.”
The course has deservedly won a place in France’s Top 10 and is now listed in continental Europe’s Top 40.
It seems a bit churlish not to mention the nine-hole Le Manoir course. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is for beginners. You can leave your driver in the bag if you wish but you’ll need to keep your wits about you on the tee to ensure the ball lands in a good position for your second shot. It’s definitely worth a round, or two, as a warm-up or after a hard morning’s golf on La Mer, possibly to give you your confidence back!
One of the things we love about Le Touquet Golf Resort is that first and foremost it is a members’ club. There is always a friendly buzz around the course and the clubhouse and with 45 holes, there is plenty of room for everyone.
All the recent work on the golf course meant a suitably impressive clubhouse was needed. When you visit you will find a new contemporary clubhouse is at the heart of the golf resort. The golf shop is very enticing too. It’s worth hunting around for a few bargains there to take home some mementos of your holiday.
There are lots of hotels in Le Touquet of varied quality. One consistent performer is the welcoming Le Manoir hotel, just opposite the golf resort. It has been given a new look while retaining its famous welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.
The elegant Westminster Hotel is shut for the first six months of 2020 for a refurbishment, led by the new owners, Lucien Barriere, who already own a Golf Planet Holidays’ clients favourite, the Hotel Du Golf in Deauville as well as other elegant properties in France and Morocco.
But if you’d rather spend your golf holiday budget on eating out than splashing out on fine bedrooms, there are plenty of good hotels to choose from in the town centre, where there are fantastic restaurants are on your doorstep.
A most for fish lovers is the excellent Perard’s. In recent years you will have seen their excellent cure-all fish soup for sale in some supermarkets in the UK and there’s no better start to a delicious fish dinner there than a bowl of this excellent concoction.
The main street is jam-packed with good, traditional restaurants, where the food is tasty and the beer even better. For gourmet diners you have Flavio’s, Le Jardin and Le Village Suisse, where the high prices are justified by the superb cuisine.
A stroll down the main street takes you to the beach and what a beach it is. In the summer it will be busy with holidaymakers and out of season it will be equally colourful with kites, sand yachts and surfers making use of the winds blowing in from the Channel.
Le Touquet is bewitching. One trip is never enough as there will always be something left on your ‘to do’ list. A Le Touquet golf holiday takes you somewhere very special indeed.