Local Knowledge is a brand new feature on Global Golfer Magazine.
We talk to local travel experts in some of the world’s leading golf destinations and bring you the inside track on where to play, stay and eat out.
For the first in the series, we talk to Beatrice Martin, owner La Haute Couture du Voyage…
What is La Haute Couture du Voyage?
La Haute Couture du Voyage is a boutique style travel agency, planning luxury golf holidays in the South of France, particularly around beautiful Biarritz where we specialize in golf & wine tours. We cater for small groups (10-12 persons maximum) and all the tours are tailor made, designed especially for individual clients and groups.
Tell us about your career in travel?
I was born and raised in France, I’ve travelled extensively and lived in different countries including the USA, Spain and Turkey. I’ve worked in the tourism industry for more than 24 years and my first holiday tours business was based in South Turkey. My clientele were mainly American, German, British and Russian. I offered exclusive worldwide tours with sports activities like sailing, scuba-diving, skiing and tennis.
Where do you recommend for luxury golf tours in France?
French golf holidays are more popular than ever, thanks to the superb variety of courses available across the entire country.
There are almost 600 courses which is more than the rest of continental Europe combined.
Each region has its own individual character and attractions and it’s difficult to decide exactly which part of France to choose for a golf break.
I recommend Bordeaux and Biarritz for the phenomenal wine, exquisite cuisine, amazing culture and history.
Bordeaux is France’s universal wine capital and a 2000-year-old city with classic European architecture.
The most prestigious and beautiful wine estates Margaux, Palmer, Lafite, Latour and Mouton are located in this region.
During our golf tours, golfers drive the route des châteaux north of Bordeaux on the Médoc peninsula and experience wine tastings at different famous Grand Cru Classe wineries.
On the right bank, they’ll discover Saint-Émilion, one of the principal red wine producing areas of Bordeaux.
In this charming medieval village – listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO – you can walk through cobbled streets, admire the wonderful architecture and shop for some of the best wines.
In Bordeaux, golfers can also play the Medoc Golf Course, a former host venue for the French Open on the European Tour.
Biarritz is one of the most upmarket beach resorts on the West coast of France.
This seaside resort town was favored by French and international royalty and shot to fame in the mid 19th Century, when Empress Eugenie – wife of Napoleon III – fell in love with this part of the Basque country and built a Palace on the beach at Biarritz.
It gained a reputation as “the queen of beaches and beach of Kings.”
Biarritz offers a lot more than beautiful buildings today. It’s a vibrant cosmopolitan town with fine cuisine, magnificent beaches, elegant spas, golf courses and numerous sporting facilities ; not forgetting the surf. Surfers come from across the world to ride these waves.
Biarritz is arguably the French golf capital with ten courses.
Among the best, Biarritz le Phare dates back to 1888.
Biarritz offers an unforgettable golf trip between the wilderness of the ocean and the beauty of the Basque Country.
What would be your perfect golf break itinerary in France?
– 3 Nights in Bordeaux with 3 rounds of golf at Golf de MARGAUX, Golf du Medoc, Golf du Château des Vigiers
– Vineyards and cellar tour plus wine tasting in Medoc, Margaux and St Emilion
– 3 Nights in Biarritz with 3 rounds of golf at Golf du Phare, Golf d’Arcangues, Golf de Molliets
– Visit the countryside and famous villages of Espelette, Cambo les Bains, Ainhoa and the fishing town of St Jean de Luz (where Louis XIV’s house is located).
– Spa treatments
– 2 nights in Paris with 1 round of Golf at Versailles-Golf International-Albatross
– city tour and dinner cruise on the Seine River
What are your favourite restaurants ?
In Bordeaux , l’Estacade, Quais de Queyries. Zen and chic restaurant built on piles on the Garonne river, with an outstanding view of the Place de la Bourse.
In Biarritz, Chez Albert located in the old harbour. The fish are all wild sourced from the Saint-Jean de Luz market and are prepared according to Basque gastronomic traditions.
France is famous for its food – can you recommend any local food specialities?
Sauce Bordelaise: Of all the local specialties, the most renowned is Sauce Bordelaise, made with red wine, marrow-based brown stock, shallots, and seasonings. It marries well with entrecote, a grilled beefsteak cut.
With its blend of Pyrenees Mountain, ocean and New World produce, Basque gastronomy has lately been praised as the best in Europe and is served in many of Biarritz’s restaurants alongside the excellent local wines produced in the region’s wine districts.
- Piquillos, sweet red peppers stuffed with either morue (eel) or cabillaud (cod)
- Pibales (young eels), hake and chipirones (baby squid)
- Axoa (pronounced achoa), a traditional veal stew with peppers and Espelette chillies
Meat and fish is cooked the Spanish style, “a la plancha”, on an open hotplate in its own fat.
Useful travel tips for getting around the area?
Fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle, take the fast train (TGV) directly from the airport to Bordeaux.
Fly back to Paris directly from Biarritz city.
The best way to travel around and not worry about the driving and timing is to travel with a driver-guide. There’s nothing worse than getting lost on the way and arriving late for your tee-time.
Who are your tours or trips perfect for?
My tours are perfect for any golf, wine & food lovers. Each region has so much to offer culturally, and historically wise that they are perfect for golfers and their non-golfing spouses or partners.
What are your must-play French golf courses?
Versailles-Golf International-Albatross (near Paris) – a blend of Scottish links and target golf, this Robert von Hagge design is home to 18 of the last 20 French Opens and will serve as the venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup.
The finish on 18th, a short par five with a water hazard in front of the green remains a fantastic challenge for those who try and reach it in two strokes. The Albatross is also demanding course.
Biarritz Le Phare is in the heart of Biarritz. Designed and built in 1888 by Willie Dunn, the 18-hole Biarritz Le Phare golf course is set in the heart of the town in superb surroundings.
Situated between the mountains and the sea it offers excellent playing conditions throughout the year due to the particularly mild climate.
Golf du Medoc Le Château (near Bordeaux) is one of France’s best courses. The wide fairways are lined with heather, the quality of the greens and the influence of the winds from the ocean make “The Châteaux” a fantastic golf challenge.