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Golf holidays - Montpellier & Camargue
The Camargue is a unique part of France, indeed Europe: a vast expanse of fresh and salt water marshes, rivers, lagoons, dikes and canals formed where the Rhone empties into the Mediterranean.
The Camargue spreads east from just outside Montpellier across to nearly Marseille. It is a wetlands habitat unequalled in terms of size and ecological importance, often seeming more a part of some David Attenborough documentary than the southern reaches of France! An ornithologists paradise with its famous flamingoes and egrets being just two species of wading bird to be frequently spotted.
The Camargue has another indigenous beast or two too, the black bulls that roam the pastures along with the wild horses. The former are both a local delicacy and a source of high-adrenalin entertainment with the Summer bull running festivals (in Aigues Mortes for example); the latter are more often a mode of transport and there are numerous ranches from where you can set out on horseback to get a real sense of this unusual place.
The Rhone washes down a lot of sand and nutrients making (the dry bits of) the Camargue a very fertile place. This is quite evident in the local cuisine where fish, seafood peppers and the local rice feature prominently.
Another popular product is the wine produced on the sands 'les vins des sables' - especially the rosé. Listel is one of the larger producers with vineyards across the Camargue and a large visitor centre (close to La Grande Motte) where you can witness the production from vine to bottle. There are many more small family producers too. Hmmm, 18 holes at La Grande Motte followed by lunch and an afternoon wine-tasting, quel bon jour!
Where to stay - Montpellier - Camargue
The old fortified town of Aigues Mortes on the edge of the Camargue is both a fascinating and lively spot. By day you will have easy access to the sights, sounds and golf courses of the Camargue; by night there are at least two dozen excellent restaurants within the walls that you can stroll to.
Over towards Montpellier the Domaine de Massane is a pleasant golf resort, with a good course, huge practice facilities and a comfortable hotel. It is however a little isolated, so dining out will entail a little driving or a taxi. Down on the coast, the modern purpose built seaside town of La Grande Motte has a very good course too and a few hotels scattered around, although lacking in any historical charm.
Golf holidays in Provence
The best golf courses in Provence (and the most attractive scenery and towns) are to be found in a broad arc that sweeps around from Avignon through Aix-en-Provence and a little further on to Marseille. Here the scenery is pure Provence: lush fertile valleys irradiated by undying sunshine and breathtaking gorges gouged from the limestone cliffs of the Alpilles.
Provence has a wondrous charm, with much much more time and space when compared to the busy Côte d'Azur. For a relaxing golf holiday amidst spectacular scenery, Provence is hard to beat.
Where to stay in Provence
One of the loveliest and liveliest towns you will find anywhere is Aix-en-Provence, with its long boulevards of dappled light under the tall plane trees that line the pavements; it's no wonder the Impressionists fell in love with Provence. Every evening the streets are crammed with restaurant tables as the whole town appears to dine out every night! Hardly surprising as the menus are so enticing and fresh local produce so abundant.
Avignon and Marseille are the two big towns in the area and although they have many reasons to visit, they are possibly too large to make a relaxing base for a golf holiday. However if you would like to stay in one or the other just let us know as we have some good ideas for nice hotels in both.
On the cusp of Provence and the Camargue is Arles. A remarkable town dating from BC 800 when there was an Italian/Celtic settlement here it became established by the Romans in 800BC as their prime trading centre and strategic base on the Mediterranean; much of their presence is still in evidence today. Combining a good choice of hotels and restaurants with a bit of culture and proximity to the best golf courses, we think it is the perfect location to enjoy golfing in both the Camargue and Provence.
Many golfers will no doubt come to Provence for the quiet countryside and if you would like to immerse yourself in the scenery then the area around Servanes and the small Côté des Olivades hotel or for something more luxurious try the new Mannville resort; both are pure Provence.
Flights to Provence and the Camargue
For golf holidays in Provence and around the Camargue the easiest airports to get to are Montpellier and Marseille: both of which have plenty of flights with both scheduled airlines and the likes of EasyJet et cetera, from a range of airports across Great Britain and Ireland (and Europe).
For a trans-Provence golf tour you could fly into one of the above then home from the other, allowing you the chance to enjoy the very best of both sides of Provence and the Camargue.
We can advise on the best flights to the South of France for your golf holiday; just let us know your preferred departure airport and we will do the rest.
On arrival in Montpellier or Marseille, we will arrange for a hire-car to be waiting for you or a chauffeur-driven vehicle for your party if you prefer. It's entirely up to you!
Getting to Provence by car
If you wish to pack your golf clubs into your car and head off to Provence or the Camargue on your golf holiday under your own steam it is a fairly full day's drive from Calais to the South of France.
We would suggest breaking your journey with an overnight stop en-route and we know of many great little places to stay - with golf courses nearby - or even without golf!