Playing around in Languedoc Roussillon
As a generalisation, the courses I tried in May 2005 were in excellent condition, particularly the greens which were almost always true and fast. The bunkers, on the other hand, were usually below standard. You can get a Languedoc-Roussillon Golf Pass (5 rounds over a period of 21 days for 185 euros, try the Tourist Office) which allows you to play several courses, or the same course up to five times.
The courses did not appear to be very busy at this time of year, and you are not required to go out with another couple. In fact, several people were playing singly. It’s probably advisable, however to book before you go, particularly if the course is some way distant, or if in mid-July to mid-September. At all the courses at which we played, our reservations were handled efficiently, and at almost all the quality of facilities were well above those at the average British club.
Golf de Saint Cyprien is less than 10 minutes drive from Les Capellans. Drive through Saint Cyprien Plage in the direction of Canet Plage, and at the last roundabout turn left, and the golf club is about one kilometre away, on the left hand side. The 18 hole course is about 6900 yards (medal tees) par 72, flat, fairly featureless, a cross between links and parkland, and technically demanding. The 9 hole is 3000 yards (medal) par 35, also flat, but more scenically attractive (parkland, with more trees and water) and although less demanding, is probably more fun, and it’s worth considering playing twice to get the 18 holes in preference to the ‘big course’. Facilities are excellent, and it’s possible to hire clubs, trolleys etc. Cost of a round is between 40 and 55 euros depending on the time of year.
Golf du Domaine de Falgos is an outstandingly beautiful, relatively short (5500 yards, par 70) and technically interesting parkland/forest course, but not annoyingly ‘tricky’ as some short courses are. It is about 75-90 minutes drive from Saint Cyprien Capellans, going west on the D115, past Le Boulou, Ceret and Arles sur Tech. About 5 or 6 kilometres after Arles, turn left for St Laurent des Cerdans, and Falgos is off the road to the right about a couple of kilometres beyond this village. It’s difficult to imagine a golf course being here in the mountains, but it’s worth the twisty journey just to see it. Predictably, the course is hilly/undulating, but exhilarating! The facilities are excellent, and clubs, trolleys and carts can be hired. Cost of a round about 45 to 55 euros.
Golf de Carcassonne is about 90 minutes drive. It is located on the south side of the A61 (opposite side from the city), off Junction 23, following signs first for ‘Centre Ville’ and then for ‘St Hilaire’on the D118 (crossing back over the autoroute). The course is on the left hand side. It’s a parkland course, characterised by wide fairways, fast and challenging greens, some very interesting holes (1, 9 and 18 involve either steep climbs or drops) and lovely views across rolling countryside. It is just over 6300 yards, par 71. The facilities are pleasant and homely rather than glittering. Cost of a round about 35 to 45 euros, and half sets of clubs and trolleys/carts can be hired.
Golf du Cap d’Agde is also about 90 minutes away, to the north, near Beziers. Leave the A9 at Junction 35 on the N112, heading for Agde. Don’t go to Agde, but follow the road to Cap d’Agde, and look for signs for ‘Golf’, on the right hand side. Although close to the sea, it’s a parkland rather than links course, with plenty of trees and water. Pleasant rather than stunning views. Although quite long (about 6900 yards from the back, par 72), it’s not too much of a struggle. Greens magnificent, fairways good, bunkers poor. Facilities comprehensive. Cost from 20 to 50 euros.
Overall. From a personal viewpoint of two mid handicap couples on holiday, if we’d had to choose one course to play, it would be Domaine du Falgos : if two, add the small course at St Cyprien x 2, if three, add Cap d’Agde.
There are other courses within the 90 minute drive radius at Font Romeu (9 holes, mountain, forest), Marcevol (9 holes), but we have no experience of these.
The advantages over the Algarve and Spain (in May) would seem to be that the French courses are quieter, you can play in couples rather than the obligatory fours if you wish, the cost is less, there are some seriously different and good courses (Falgos, definitely) and there are fewer Brits and Germans! The downside is that you have to travel quite some distance if you want to play at other than the St Cyprien courses. Also, the poor quality of the bunkers, where the sand quality was frequently awful, and the bunker edges untended, was a surprising and irritating blemish. Nonetheless, compared with the UK in May, and particularly with Scotland where our group live, the general condition of the courses in May, apart from some Scottish east coast links courses, was significantly better.