Golf in the Limousin - Far from the madding crowd
If you haven't heard of the Limousin in France - well, you're not
the only one. Many French barely know it either, except as the home
of some of the finest cattle in the country. But you are sure to
know of the Dordogne, to the south-west, and the marvellous thing
about the Limousin is that it is very similar - but without the
View from above Aubazine in the Corrèze
The Limousin sits astride the Massif Central in the centre of France
and comprises three départements: the Haute-Vienne, with Limoges,
of fine porcelaine fame, as its capital, the Corrèze and the Creuse.
It covers a big area but the population is tiny - less than three-quarters
of a million, roughly half the number of famous Limousin cattle in its lush green
fields and mountain pastures. The density of population is a mere
43 inhabitants per square kilometre (compared to 112 for the whole of France
and 246 for the UK), so if you want to get away from the crowds,
enjoy beautiful scenery, delicious food, empty roads and some fine
golf on almost deserted fairways, this is the place for you.
Click here for maps of the Limousin region and
its golf courses.
We spent three days exploring the nine golf courses
of the Limousin (that have since become ten), and despite suffering the appalling late August
weather we were charmed by what we discovered, and could only be
amazed that this delightful region is one of the least well-known
in the world's most visited country.
The Limousin is also the first region of France to offer visiting golfers 2-FORE!-1 green fees from May 2008 onwards, so that you can discover its ten fine courses at half price. To find out more about 2-FORE!-1 FRANCE vouchers, which work in exactly the same way as the regular UK scheme, and to order your vouchers, just click here.
THE HAUTE-VIENNE DÉPARTEMENT
Golf de la Porcelaine
Only 5km from Limoges, in a 75 hectare estate perched above the valley of the river Vienne, lies the Golf de la Porcelaine, the most famous of the Limousin courses. Designed by the great French pro Jean Garaïalde, this is an absolute gem of a layout, drawing on everything the wonderful local scenery has to offer.
The beautiful Golf de la Porcelaine, seen from the 2nd fairway
At 6,042 metres and par 72, it is not the longest of the ten Limousin layouts, but it is certainly the most subtle. The undulating, sometimes hilly terrain, lakes, ponds, streams, trees and bunkers combine to make this a challenging but very pleasant course. The views of the Massif Central are magnificent, and there really cannot be any more shades of green in the spectrum than you can observe on this golf course with its richly varied vegetation.
We unfortunately played it on a very wet day, and finished soaked to the skin - so much so that even photography was impossible on the back nine - but, back in the warm and welcoming old stone clubhouse, we had no regrets at having gone round the full 18!
La Porcelaine starts and finishes with a par 5. You might be grateful for a few warm-up shots on the splendidly scenic range before you head off, because the 1st is tree-lined, and has twin lakes eating into the fairway awaiting wayward drives.
The 2nd is perhaps the loveliest and certainly one of the most difficult holes on the course. Only 352 metres, but a sharp dogleg left, it starts with a drive from an elevated tee down into a tree-lined valley. If you can get the ball into the opening at the elbow, you then have a short to medium iron into a plateau green with water left, back and right, plus a bunker between the green and water on the right for good measure. It's a great hole and if you walk off here with your 4 you can feel well-pleased.
The 4th is a dogleg par 5, where the longer hitter can try and cut the corner, although this leaves a very tough second shot, as the green is long and narrow and well-bunkered.
The 5th and 7th are both heavily bunkered par 3s, calling for a precision tee shot, but relatively easy compared to the very tough par 5, 460 metre 8th. This is narrow, tree-lined and all uphill as you approach the steeply elevated, plateau green. Even once on the green, a careful touch is required, as it's easy to putt right off it and leave yourself a horribly difficult pitch back. This hole will test every level of golfer to the full!
The 9th is a short par 4, but with a large pond on the left off the driving zone and out of bounds right, so an iron for safety might be a good idea.
The 10th is stroke 1 on the card, a long par 4 with trees and OB down the right and a stream down the left. The 11th, on the other hand, is a short par 4 and potential birdie hole if you can keep your drive left and then find the well-bunkered putting surface with no more than a wedge. The par 3 12th, with its multiple tees, can be quite a test, driving over water to a shallow, heavily bunkered green below you, making it difficult to hold.
13 and 14 are all about trees and keeping the ball on the short stuff, and bring you to the lovely par 3 15th. It was getting rather waterlogged on the tee when we played and photographed it, but it is an excellent hole, calling for a precision tee shot between encroaching trees and a large pond to long, narrow green with three lurking bunkers.
The 16th has a tight driving zone but a treat awaits you as you crest the hill approaching the green, with a magnificent panoramic view towards the Massif Central and the Monts d'Ambazac (rising to 701 metres). It's not easy to concentrate on the second shot once you've seen this! The par 3 17th offers a little respite, except for its tricky double plateau green, bringing you back to the clubhouse via the par 5 18th, with its water and bunker protected green.
The warm atmosphere in the clubhouse, with its stone walls, oak beams, huge fireplace and panoramic windows is then the perfect spot to relax and look back on a great golfing experience that players of all standards can enjoy. There's good, hearty food here too. This is golf as fine and beautiful as the Porcelaine that gives it its name.
Golf de la Porcelaine
Célicroux, 87350 PANAZOL
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 31 10 69
Golf de Saint-Junien
Situated to the north-east of Limoges, the Golf de Saint Junien is built on a 200 hectare estate around a 19th century Manor House and the farm's outbuildings, which have now become the clubhouse, a 23 room, three star hotel and a good restaurant offering plenty of local and regional dishes. Taken over by Dutch investors, it has been beautifully renovated, while retaining all the features of the old property, such as the magnificent ancient trees around the house.
Arriving at the old Manor House that is now the Golf de Saint Junien
Designed by an amateur, the course makes full use of the natural contours and vegetation of the land. The fairways are mostly generous in width, but the course makes up for it with some very thick rough, plenty of bunkers, ponds and streams, and some interesting slopes. The views over thick forest towards the distant hills are spectacular, although sadly the weather was damp and misty the day we visited. The British greenkeeper tends some excellent greens, which are far from easy.
The course begins gently. The 1st has an invitingly wide fairway and large green; stay down the left, if you can. The 2nd has the first of many greens which are wide but shallow, approached over a bunker, making club selection vital. Fortunately most of the greens have run-off areas, rather than the clingy rough beyond the fairways, but elevation changes can make chipping difficult.
Things start to get tough at the par 5, dogleg right 3rd. Drive over a pond and two fairway bunkers, and you face a second shot over another bunker with bushes guarding the angle of the dogleg. It's also out of bounds all down the right. This is another shallow green (only 7 metres), so a precision approach is called for.
The 5th has a large pond at some 150 metres off the tee to catch the weak drive, and another shallow green with a bunker behind. The 6th, a short par 4, has a similar drive with a pond in the landing area, so laying up and taking the longer second is the best option. But the green is L-shaped, with thick rough behind, so the longer second has its disadvantages - a good hole. The 7th has a bunker in the driving area, while the par 3 8th has a big bunker guarding a shallow, kidney-bean shaped green. The 9th is an uphill par 5, with a sloping fairway and a stream crossing it for your second.
The 10th is a pretty little par 3 over a pond to a large, flat green without bunkers. But the easy start home soon ends on the 11th, a monster (560 metres off the back tee), S-shaped par 5, with water across and left and trees down both sides. You must keep as near left as you dare, otherwise you'll end up zig-zagging your way down this one! 12 has a shallow, bunker-guarded green, and 13 is a short par 3 to an even shallower green with bushes and a pond behind. The 14th has an unusually narrow fairway for this course, and you drive over a large pond, with trees and thick rough eigher side. It's stroke index 1, although under 300 metres long, so be warned! An iron off the tee makes sense here.
15 and 16 both feature water hazards, and are best played down the left, and the 17th is a very good par 4 dogleg left, where the drive is crucial. Too short and you're blocked out by trees; too long and you run out of fairway into rough or trees.
The 18th has it all. Water across and down the left, bunker in the driving zone, shallow green with trees left and bunker right, and uphill to a green that falls away on every side. But a beautiful hole, nevertheless!
Thanks to multiple tees, the course can measure anywhere from 4,265 to 5,165 metres, so the difficulties are very manageable. This is a lovely, very natural course, well worth a visit, and why not a stay at the hotel? The Club also offers excellent teaching and practice facilities, with lessons available from the 1991 Dutch Professional Champion Willem Swart, now a resident of the Limousin.
Golf de Saint Junien
Les Jouberties, 87200 Saint Junien
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 02 96 96
Fax: +33 (0)5 55 02 32 52
Golf de Limoges Saint-Lazare
How many golf courses of over 6,200 metres can honestly claim to
be only 5-10 minutes from their city centre? The Golf Municipal
de Limoges Saint-Lazare was France's first public course, and owes
its creation in 1976 to the socialist Senator and Mayor of Limoges,
Louis Longequeue - not even a golfer himself - who had the visionary
idea of transforming the town's disused municipal airport into a
Working with just 59 hectares of extremely flat terrain, architect
Hubert Chesneau (creator of France's famous Golf National) fashioned
a par 72, 18 hole layout with four genuine par 5s. His original
design was given additional character in the late 1980s, when the
municipality decided to use the earth being excavated for the construction
of the city's bypass to create some gently rolling humps and hollows.
Together with the growth of the thousands of trees planted, it has
all matured into a very enjoyable, well-maintained, quality golf
course that boasts 850 members, but remains entirely open to the
public for a very modest Euros 28 (under £20) green fee in
This is not a difficult course, although the wayward hitter will
quickly become acquainted with the splendid variety of handsome
trees which are the key features of Saint-Lazare. There are no water
hazards and it is not overly bunkered, nor are the bunkers very
penal, but the rough can be quite deep and there are some very thick
patches of heather. As you would expect, given the confined area,
the greens are quite small and place a premium on accuracy - or
a good short game!
Particularly enjoyable are the two big doglegs at the 5th and 10th,
both very pretty holes, and calling for good placement of the drive
to avoid being completely blocked out by the trees, and the 12th
is a nice little par 3 with a tree plumb between you and the green.
It's a course that tempts you into using the driver - the fairways
are generous, and on a number of holes you're better off being very
wide than just off the fairway - so you can open your shoulders
and have some fun. And despite the appalling summer weather we found
the greens in surprisingly good condition.
There is a separately owned, but on-site two-star hotel with 33
rooms and a good bar-restaurant which does a roaring lunchtime trade,
given its proximity to the centre of Limoges.
For more information:
Golf Municipal de Limoges Saint-Lazare
Avenue du Golf, 87000 Limoges
Tel : +33 (0)5 55 30 21 02
Hôtel-Restaurant Le Green Saint-Lazare
Avenue du Golf, 87000 Limoges
Tel : +33 (0)5 55 06 00 00
Golf de Mortemart
At the time of visiting, this new 9-hole course was scheduled to
open in September 2007, although the appalling summer weather may
delay this. The course is situated just 1
km from the village of Mortemart,
officially classified among the "Plus Beaux Villages de France",
and affords a magnificent panoramic view of the Monts de Blond,
in the foothills of the Massif Central, home to some remarkable
prehistoric monuments. At 2,920 metres and with a par of 37, it
will bring to ten the number of courses in the region.
Golf de Mortemart
Les Villards, 87330 Mortemart
+33 5 55 60 45 16
THE CORRÈZE DÉPARTEMENT
Golf de Brive Planchetorte
Only five minutes from the centre of Brive-la-Gaillarde, the Golf-Club de Brive Planchetorte is a testing and mature layout created in 1994 by Jeremy Pern. A par 71, it is one of the longer Limousin courses at an undulating 5,847 metres off the back tees, and set among magnificent, often centenarian trees. Its most memorable feature is however the Planchetorte stream, which winds its way from end to end of the course, coming into play on no fewer than 13 holes!
If you're a golfer who likes to warm up with a bucket of balls before the round, you can also experience another striking feature of Brive - the driving range, set into the side of a hill, with a huge rocky outcrop some 200 metres distant. Just try and resist the temptation to whack a driver at it to see the ricochet!
Teeing off under the panoramic terrace of the clubhouse, which offers a fine view of almost every hole on the course, you are immediately confronted by the three main difficulties that characterise Brive: trees, sharply sloping drop-off areas on the side of the fairway and, inevitably, the stream, which cuts across the hole two-thirds of the way along, awaiting the over-ambitious drive. Get used to it - you're going to see a lot of each other!
The par 5 2nd is the first of many doglegs, the key being a well-placed drive. Try and cut it too fine, and your second is blocked by trees and the stream. The 6th is an excellent and very pretty par 5. The temptation is to open the shoulders on the drive, but the stream cuts across in the landing area about 220 metres out, so you're inclined to go left, where there is more fairway. Doing this, however, brings a huge stand of trees into play for the second shot. Best to go for placement and play it as a three-shotter!
The 8th is a delightful hole, with its undulating fairway and strategically placed, lone tree requiring a precision drive to open up the green, while the 9th is a par 3 off a very elevated tee into an enormous green. If you manage to avoid the stream and the bunkers which guard the green, you're still a candidate for three putts!
The 10th starts the back nine gently - one of the flatter holes on the course - but there's tougher to come. The par 3 15th plays to an elevated green, with out of bounds to the right, a bunker front left and a huge bunker behind. Play short and you'll roll back down the hill; long, and you're in the sand.
The last three holes continue in difficult vein. The sharp dogleg 16th is not long, but trying to cut the corner and go for the birdie is not an option with tall trees barring the way.
Then comes the monstruous 17th, a double dogleg right and 522 metres off the back tee. The Planchetorte runs all along the hole until it cuts across around the landing area of your second shot. If you stay out of that, it leaves you with an uphill third shot to an elevated green. Interestingly, the hole is sponsored by the local McDonald's - they obviously realise you'll be hungry by the time you reach the green!
Last, but not least, the 18th calls for an accurate tee shot to avoid out of bounds down the left and a big slope off the fairway to the right. Club selection is then vital for the second shot - the green is 52 metres deep, so it's hello three putts again!
Despite its tricky nature, and just like the other more difficult Limousin courses, Brive is an absolute delight for the eye, so if you get the chance to play here, do take it. This is really lovely inland golf.
Golf Club de Brive Planchetorte
Vallée de Planchetorte, 19100 Brive-La-Gaillarde
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 87 57 57
(French only at the time of writing, but English is in the works)
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Golf de Neuvic d'Ussel
The town of Neuvic sits on the banks of the huge artificial Lac
de la Triouzoune, some 600 metres above sea level, and the golf
course is perched high above it, affording wonderful views of the
lake, the surrounding forests and the moutains of the Massif Central
in the distance. Indeed, as you look down from the top of the course,
there's a slight feeling of Switzerland about the place and Neuvic
was ranked 6th in France for 'visual impact' by Golf Magazine.
Built in 1982, it cleverly integrates two distinct 9-hole courses,
one a full par 35 layout of 2,526 metres, the other a compact or
'executive' par 3 course of 1,173 metres. Both benefit from being
a life-size classroom and exam-hall for the local agricultural college,
which boasts one of the only two Schools of Greenkeeping in France.
As the dynamic Director of Golf Eric Lottiaux, who himself teaches at the college,
likes to say, it is unthinkable that his courses are not in excellent
condition, and we are happy to confirm that - despite the miserable
2007 summer weather - both of them are. The college also focusses
on low environmental impact, particularly important here because
of the proximity of the lake, and has a 100% record of placing its
students in greenkeeping jobs.
The main course, although not especially long, offers numerous
challenges and has a slope rating of 141 off the back tees. Significant
changes of elevation and the consequent up-, down- and sidehill
lies have a lot to do with this, but don't be put off by this. Taken
at a gentle pace, as indeed you should to have time to enjoy the
scenery, there is no problem getting round. On the day we visited
a fourball of senior citizens were enjoying their daily game, playing
and pulling trolleys as if they were half their age!
We particularly enjoyed the par 3 5th, with its elevated tee and
magnificent forest backdrop, the par 5 6th, with its sweeping fairway
overlooking the lake, and the spectacular drive at the 9th (picture
right). Big hitters will enjoy the challenges of this course, and
especially the shortish par 4 3rd, where the green tempts you to
have a go, but calls for a perfect tee shot over a tree right in
the middle of the fairway and a carry over a reed-fringed lake in
front of the green.
There are plans to extend certain parts of the course, and for
a clubhouse beside the Lake, but there's no need to wait for this
to enjoy as picturesque and pleasantly challenging a course as you
For non-golfers, the 450 hectare Lac de Triouzoune and its surrounding
area offer a great variety of activities, including sailing and
windsurfing, jet- and water-skiing and excellent fishing, as well
as cycling and hiking. The English-owned Hôtel-Restaurant
du Lac, right on the shore, with views over the lake from every
bedroom, makes an excellent base for golf and these other activities.
For more information:
Golf de Neuvic d'Ussel,
Route de la Plage, 19160 Neuvic
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 95 98 89
[NB: no "www"] - French only at present
Hôtel-Restaurant du Lac**
La Plage, 19160 Neuvic
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 95 81 43
Probably the most famous inhabitants of the
Limousin - seen between Neuvic and Chammet
Golf du Chammet
'Golf Naturel du Chammet' is what this club likes to be called,
and it is difficult not to feel at one with nature when you're out
on this charming and not overly difficult course. Close to the Plateau
de Millevaches, at an altitude of 850m, it is quite remote - indeed,
we had some trouble finding it, and we hope they will improve the
local signage following our visit - but the scenic rewards alone
are well worth the effort of going there.
The course sits high above the Lac du Chammet, which paradoxically
is an artificial lake created by the French Electricity Board (picture
right). Surrounded by densely wooded hills, moors of magnificent
purple heather and a riot of wild flowers, you can almost feel the
clean air doing you good as you breathe. The air at this altitude
is, however, rarified. Your golf ball will travel at least 10% further
than usual up here, so allow for it in your club selection!
(Enjoy the views and some of the beautiful flora around this course
by clicking on the image gallery here.)
Chammet has only nine holes, but it is no hardship to go round
twice, and there is a possibility a second nine will be built around
the lake shore. Off the back tees it measures 2700 metres and six
of the nine holes feature significant changes of elevation - probably
the greatest difficulty round here. But beginners needn't worry
- they have their own set of red tees which take out all the carries
over trouble, and which reduce the nine holes to a modest 1400m.
Beginning gently, the 1st is a flattish dogleg right, tree-lined,
but there's no need to take the big stick here if you're wild off
the tee, as the second shot is only a little short iron. At the
2nd, the course's par 5, the really spectacular scenery comes in.
An uphill drive to the crest of the hill suddenly reveals a plunge
into the valley and the lake below, and it's really quite hard to
focus on your second shot as you take in the view. Big hitters can
go for the green in two, but it's not a big target and there are
severe slopes behind and either side, so be prepared for some tricky
upping and downing if you stray.
The tee shot at the par 3 3rd is definitely for thrill-seekers
(picture right). The hole measures 173 metres off the top tees,
but the green is also some 50 metres below you, allowing you to
fire your drive into the sky, and then watch it descend against
a backdrop of trees, the lake and finally the green - unless you
top it and it dribbles down the hill, of course. Club selection
is hard enough, but the green is small and fronted by three bunkers,
and there's a road just behind. If in doubt, play left - there's
plenty of room - quite a hole.
The 4th is another flattish par 4 dogleg right, with loads of room
out left, avoiding the beautiful expanses of heather and bushes
awaiting those who try and cut too much off. You're now at the furthest
point from the clubhouse, so the par 4 5th heads back, long and
uphill, parallel to the lake shore. Not too difficult, but needs
a solid second off an uphill lie. The par 4 6th is shorter, but
steeper, and your short iron second will likely be played off an
uphill, hanging lie to a small, plateau green.
The 7th is a neat little par 3, only 120 metres, but the green
is set high above you, again making club selection very tricky.
The view over the lake to the hills behind as you look back from
the green are outstanding. The 8th is an excellent long par 4, uphill
from the tee and then down- and sidehill to a very small green.
The bright purple of the heather on the hills to the right was a
delight to see.
And so to the par 4 9th, a short and very sharp dogleg right, tempting
you to have a go for the green over the trees between tee and green.
But with bunkers front and left and out of bounds behind and right,
this is not the percentage shot! An excellent risk/reward finishing
A warm welcome awaits you in the chalet-style clubhouse, reminding
you that you are at altitude. Pro Yann Lavictoire and Greenkeeper
Olivier Godard are passionate about their club and course, and they
have every reason to be. A very pleasant golfing experience.
For more details:
Golf du Chammet
Geneyte, 19240 Peyrelevade
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 94 78 60
Golf du Coiroux (Aubazine)
The beautiful Lac du Coiroux
Halfway between Brive and Tulle, the two courses at the Golf du Coiroux - a lovely full 18 and a 9 hole "executive" - sit around a beautiful 24 hectare lake which features often in play. The shades of green to be seen in the surrounding vegetation are endless and many holes are cut through dense forest, with a wide variety of trees to delight the eye and frustrate the errant golfer.
At under 6,000 yards (5,349 metres) off the back tees, this is not a long course, but big elevation changes, a lot of doglegs, some very tight drives and the water make it technically challenging. Longer hitters might set themselves up for birdies at the three par 5s, but they are also likely to spend plenty of time admiring the forest from within. Careful shot placement, not power, is the
key to good scoring here.
Coiroux starts as it means to go on. The 1st is a sharp dogleg right, with very tall trees and a large pond discouraging attempts to cut the corner. The ideal drive is as far as you dare go without running out of fairway and into more trees; shorter off the tee, and your second must come in over the pond. The 4th is a short par 4, but the driving zone narrows between the trees the further you go. The par 5 9th is long and straight and tempting, but extremely undulating and narrow...
The course features some very pretty but testing par 3s, with the 15th - one of two signature holes, being a little gem. Set right on the lake, which cuts deep into the hole between tee and green, a bunker guards the front edge. The lake also provides the backdrop to the other signature hole, the par 4, dogleg 14th. After driving down a narrow chute of trees from an elevated tee, taking care to avoid the bunker on the left and running out of fairway into more trees at the bottom, you then turn sharp right and play down the hill to a green that slopes away towards the lake. It only measures just over 300 metres, but what a good hole!
The clubhouse is in a beautifully restored old Limousin farmhouse, whose barn is now the restaurant, complete with a panoramic terrace overlooking the putting green and the 18th. There is also a charming chalet-style two star hotel right beside the course.
For the energetic, would-be Tarzan, the neighbouring park also features an "accrobranch" circuit in the treetops (see photo in the gallery above). We understand it is great fun and perfectly safe, but we stayed on terra firma and took our chances with the golf course instead... Excellent fishing, tennis courts, children's play areas and picnic and camping facilities are also available in the park.
For more details:
Aubazine Golf du Coiroux
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 27 25 66
THE CREUSE DÉPARTEMENT
Golf de Bourganeuf
Bourganeuf, 50 kms from Limoges, is a medieval town, home to just
over 3,000 people. Among its claims to fame is the 'Tour de Zizim'
(picture right), its most striking architectural feature, which
played host in the late 1480's to an exiled prince of the Ottoman
Empire. More recently, the town was the third in all of France to
have electric lighting in its streets, in 1886, and today boasts
a 'Museum of Electrification'. Not many people know that.
It is also, however, home to the Golf de Bourganeuf, and this little
course is a remarkable success story. In the finest traditions of
the original 'golf links', a piece of waste land that nobody wanted
on the side of a hill, marshy and covered in brambles, was slowly
turned into a golf course in the early 90's by the imagination and
perseverance of one man - Jean-Pierre Bret.
At 9 holes, 1,205 metres off the back tees and a par of 28, it
is now officially the hardest 'executive course' in France - certified
by the French Golf Federation. (The French, by the way, use the
much more appropriate term of 'parcours compact' for such a course
- indeed, these nine holes fit into just 12 hectares of land, and
are no more than a good drive and a five iron from the centre of
The course belongs to a non-profit making Association, which actively
encourages people to try their hand at golf, with a special accent
on the town's youngsters, and it is clearly succeeding in opening
up the game to many people who would otherwise never cross the threshold
of a more traditional club. Much of the original construction work
was done by volunteers who can now enjoy the course, and it has
created three full-time greenkeeping jobs. The upkeep is paid for
in part by green fees, but also by the same volunteers who continue
to organise various activities in the area to gather funds for the
club. It even manages to be self-sufficient in water, tapping into
springs which feed the fish ponds dotted around the course.
Perched on the hillside, every hole affords a wonderful view over
the town and valley and if you are a high-handicapper, the course
will test most aspects of your game, apart from the driver. There
are plenty of ponds, streams, trees and bunkers awaiting the errant
shot. And with the exception of the 6th and 7th, you almost always
have an uphill, downhill or sidehill lie on any fairway, while the
small greens and sharp slopes make for some tricky pitching and
chipping. For mid- to low-handicaps, this is an excellent work-out
for your short irons and approach play, with accuracy in finding
the small greens the key to a good score.
Plans are afoot to acquire a piece of land adjacent to the 3rd,
which would allow the extension of several holes into full par 4s,
perhaps even a par 5, to create a genuine nine hole course. We can
only wish the good members of the Association success in this project
- they thoroughly deserve it.
In the clubhouse high above the ninth green you will find a bar
and a very good restaurant - Les Diligences (literally 'The Stagecoaches').
But don't go here if you're looking for a 'steack frites'. This
is fine French cuisine, and the only chips anywhere near Les Diligences
are on the golf course.
For more details:
Golf de Bourganeuf,
28 route de Guéret, 23400 Bourganeuf
Tel: +33 (0)6 75 14 93 19
(Note - the green fee at Bourganeuf is a very modest Euros 18 for
the whole day)
and for the restaurant:
Les Diligences (M. Patrick Paule)
28 route de Guéret, 23400 Bourganeuf
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 64 87 70
Golf de la Jonchère - from tea
to tee in no time at all
If you have ever wished you could just hop out of bed in the morning
and straight onto the first tee, now's your chance. This friendly
and welcoming course has two delightful self-catering gîtes
attached to it, one of which is literally 20 yards from the men's
tee at the 1st (see right), although the other is rather further
away - at least 150 yards!
Each gîte has its own swimming pool, three bedrooms, kitchen,
living and dining rooms, and they are available from only €250
per weekend. Golfers staying in the gîtes also get a 20% discount
off their green fees.
Built in 1988 and entirely refurbished in 2003, the golf courses
at La Jonchère are designed and maintained to be fun for
all levels of golfer. The terrain is less hilly in this part of
the Creuse, so walking is easier and the fairways are wide, but
there is plenty of water and sand, abundant - and often ancient
- trees and luxuriant, very natural, rough in which the wild flowers
and grasses are encouraged to grow. The owners and management are
proud to be as "bio" as possible, so the course is self-sufficient
in water (it boasts an 8 hectare fishing lake which features on
several holes) and uses the barest minimum of chemicals for maintenance.
Drainage here, 400 metres above sea-level, is excellent and from
this height on a clear day the Puy de Dôme and Puy du Sancy
can be seen on the horizon from the 12th and 13th holes.
The 18 hole course, at just under 6000 metres and par 72, has some
very interesting holes, none more so than the par 4 6th, which features
both a drive and an approach over the lake. Unless, that is, you
attempt the tiger line off the tee across the lake; the green is
driveable (picture right - a 210 metre carry), but not for the faint-hearted
or those with only a couple of sleeves of golf balls to see out
the week! And if you negotiate that and feel pleased with yourself,
don't relax too much as you're walking off the green - you have
to do it all over again at the par 3 7th, straight across the lake.
The 1st, 4th and 11th all feature drives made progressively tighter
over the years by the growth of the trees, and the 8th is a vey
tough par 4, 396 metres off the back tees, all uphill and dogleg
left. The par 3 12th also calls for accuracy with a longish iron
or fairway metal off the tee, with the green surrounded by trees
on three sides. But on the whole the course is set up for pleasure,
not prowess, and there's a lot to be said for that.
The 9 hole pitch and putt course measures 600 metres for a par
of 27, and has been ratified by the French Golf Federation for official
competitions, a rare distinction for this type of course. The 5th
hole, requiring a pitch entirely over water, and the 6th, onto an
island green surrounded by one enormous bunker, will give you a
good idea why!
The ivy-covered, oak-beamed clubhouse has a proper stand-up bar
with a footrail, as well as a dining area, lounge and gamesroom.
There is also a practice ground with covered bays, a delightful
chipping and putting green, and there are plans for a beginner's
course, not to mention excellent game-fishing in the lake for the
prized black bass (picture right), all within this charming 120
hectare estate. And, if the gîtes are already taken, more
accomodation is available offsite in the Hôtel Moderne in
nearby Gouzon, along with the Relais du Golf restaurant.
For further details, or to make a reservation:
Golf-Club de la Jonchère,
Montgrenier, 23230 Gouzon
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 62 76 60
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN LIMOUSIN
Far off-the-beaten tourist track, the Limousin is a well-preserved
haven for nature lovers and anyone seeking peace and quiet. With
its lush green countryside, rolling hills, forests, heather and
ferns, lakes and rivers, breathtaking scenery, imposing châteaux
and lovely villages, plus a gentle pace of life that reminds one
of France as it used to be before it was 'discovered', the region
has a great deal to offer for those who enjoy the simple life.
The local tourist boards will help you find ways to tour the region
and discover its many attractions, but here are a few examples that
we feel you won't want to miss.
Le Plateau de Millevaches
Straddling the 3 departments and situated between 600m and 1000m
above sea level in the 'Massif Central', the Plateau de Millevaches
is a protected regional park with huge forests and a vast expanse
of hilly, grazing terrain, criss-crossed by rivers and perfect for
hiking and fishing. Contrary to what you could easily believe, judging
by the name and the number of cows in the area, this is not the
'Plateau of a Thousand Cows" but more likely the corruption
of two old words meaning 'thousand springs' and the plateau is the
water reserve of Limousin. While in the area, make sure you stop
by in Meymac, Felletin and Eymoutiers, all very picturesque towns
on the edges of the Plateau.
The villages of Meymac (left) and Eymoutiers
The Land of a Thousand Lakes
The Limousin is known as 'the land of a thousand lakes', among
which the largest are St Pardoux, Bort les Orgues, Lac du Causse
and, biggest of all, Vassivière, which covers an area of
1,000 hectares. Most are lakes with sandy beaches and clear water
ideal for fishing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, hang-gliding
Lac de Vassivière
Maison de Vassivière
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 69 76 70
If fishing is your thing, you'll find the Limousin is a fisherman's
paradise, as in addition to its many lakes, the region also boasts
11,000 kms of rivers and some of the best fishing in Europe for
trout, black-bass, carp, salmon, bream and pike, to name but a few.
Canoeing and kayaking lovers will be spoilt for choice as their
favourite sport can be enjoyed on several rivers offering different
levels of difficulty: the Dordogne, Vienne, Corrèze, Vézère
and the lesser-known Diège and Maronne.
SOME PICTURESQUE TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF THE LIMOUSIN
Wonderful as the golf is here, don't miss the rest. If you enjoy driving along country roads, it doesn't get much better. On our travels we sometimes went half an hour without crossing another car, and every lane, every hillptop, brings its visual feast.
There is however a more sombre side; the sparsely populated, densely wooded and hilly terrain of the Limousin made this
a bastion of the Résistance during the Second World War -
and the region paid a terrible price for it, witnessing two horrendous
massacres in Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane in 1944.
In the Corrèze
Aubazine: On your way to play at the Golf du Coiroux, close
to Brive, be sure to visit the delightful town of Aubazine, perched on the side of a hill, with its steep streets, old houses and pretty squares. Be sure too to take
the time to stroll round the magnificent abbey and church and have a look at
St Etienne's tomb, at a 12th century-old oak church cabinet and a
15th century fresco, but that's not all you'll find here...
Aubazine and the sad story of Coco Chanel
On a less religious note, Aubazine and its abbey have close ties with French fashion icon Coco Chanel, who spent much of her very unhappy childhood here. Born Gabrielle, the second illegitimate daughter of travelling salesman Albert Chanel and Jeanne Devolle, she was 12 years old in 1895 when her mother died.
Her father abandoned his young family a short time later to seek his fortune in America, and the young Gabrielle spent seven years in the orphanage of the Catholic monastery of Aubazine, where she learned to be a seamstress. Although she couldn't know it at the time, this would be the foundation of her career.
The abbey terrified her, and if you imagine the 12 year old orphan having to climb the long stone staircase (see photo gallery) of the church in the dark on a freezing morning on her way to service, it is not hard to see why.
She never spoke openly about her life at Aubazine and when asked about this part of her childhood, would simply say that she lived with many aunts that hated her. It made her a rebellious child, and she no doubt suffered more as a consequence. Late in life, Gabrielle stated: "I've been ungrateful toward the odious aunts. I owe them everything. A child in revolt becomes a person with armor and strength." Understandably perhaps, of all the days of the week she hated Sundays the most. And - almost inevitably, she died on a Sunday.
What this period clearly gave her was the basis of her unmistakeable style. The interlocking 'C's of the Chanel logo can be seen repeated hundreds of times in the stained glass windows of the church. Her obsession for black and white, often with a belt, is a clear reminder of the ecclesiastic dress of the monks and nuns and the cross of St Jean-de-Jérusalem figures in much of her jewelry. Even the '5' and '19' of two of her iconic perfumes their origins here: patterns resembling a 5 are to be found in the stones of the corridor leading to her dormitory, and 19 is the official number of the Corrèze département - look at the car number plates when you visit.
The origin of her nickname 'Coco' is uncertain. Some say that it was acquired at La Rotonde, a cafe frequented by members of a French cavalry regiment and many artists who flocked to Paris' Montparnasse section at the turn of the 20th century. It was here that Gabrielle, then a cabaret singer, performed a song called "Qui qu'a vu Coco?" (Who has seen Coco?), and the name stuck.
Should you want to learn more about her, why not drop into the charming Hotel Restaurant le Saint Etienne, just a few steps from the church and formerly part of the abbey, and have lunch? If you're lucky the owner, Mr Sol, will be on hand to dispense his vast knowledge. If you're really lucky, he might invite you to climb a wonderfully worn stone staircase to visit two exquisite little rooms, formerly monks' cells, in his hotel, one of which now bears the name 'Salon Coco Chanel'. You can even organise a candlelit dinner for two in there...
Hotel Restaurant le Saint Etienne **
Le Bourg, 19190 Aubazine
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 25 71 01
Fax: +33 (0)5 55 25 71 37
The historic town of Aubusson, built along the valley of the Creuse
River near the "Plateau de Millevaches" northeast of Limoges,
has been famous worldwide for its tapestries and carpets since the
14th Century. The Aubusson Tapestry trade is still thriving today,
with about twenty workshops preserving a range of traditional skills
-designing, spinning and dyeing, and the Tapestry Museum has permanent
Musée Départemental de la Tapisserie (Tapestry Museum)
Avenue des Lissiers - BP 89
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 83 08 30
La Maison du Tapissier
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 5 66 32 12
Fax: +33 (0)5 55 83 84 51
Open all year round.
Collonges-la-Rouge: This village, which owes its name to
its strikingly beautiful red-sandstone buildings, is another of
the seven "most beautiful villages in France" to be found
in the Limousin. It is situated 23 kilometres southeast of Brive
close to two other beautiful villages - Curemonte and Turenne. You
will love exploring the winding narrow streets and alleys and turreted
grand houses, and you could finish off by a visit to the 11th century
Curemonte: Curemonte is a mediaeval village near Brive.
It is situated in a strategic historical position on a ridge overlooking
a valley and boasts three châteaux, a 12th century church,
a wheat market (halle à grains), la noble demeure de la Johannie
and houses decorated with turrets and shields. It is listed as "one
of the most beautiful villages in France".
La Souterraine (Creuse)
The small market town of La Souterraine is located in the north
of Limousin, not far from Limoges and its airport. It is is well
worth a visit for its medieval ramparts, its two 11th and 13th century
churches, delightful old houses and above all, for a taste of unspoiled
Mortemart (Haute Vienne)
Situated 40km north of Limoges and close to the Charente, Mortemart
is a pretty mediaeval village officially listed as "one of
the most beautiful villages in France" and built around its
10th century castle. The Château des Ducs was the birth place
of the Marquise de Montespan, a famous mistress of Louis XIV of
The village of Mortemart and the Château des Ducs
Uzerche: The picturesque mediaeval town of Uzerche has been
dubbed "the pearl of Limousin". Its grey slated roofs
which are typical of the area, its turrets, beautiful carved doors
make a it a charming town not to be missed when you have a round
of golf at the nearby Golf d'Aubazine (28km). It is perched on a
rock high above the river Vézère and played a significant
role as a fortified town in the history of the area.
LIMOGES AND ITS FINE PORCELAIN
You cannot be near Limoges and ignore what brought it its world
renown: fine porcelain. The manufacture of hard-paste Limoges porcelain
- similar to Chinese porcelain - dates back to the 18th century when
the key ingredients used for its production, kaolin and petuntse,
were discovered at Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, near Limoges, in an economically
distressed area, and began to be quarried in 1768. It soon expanded,
mainly to meet the demand of European courts.
Porcelaine de Limoges from three centuries
(l to r): Water jug and basin, Comte d’Artois factory, Limoges,
post-1785, Turkish Horseman Clock, Michel et Valin factory,
Limoges 1839, Soleil couchant (Sunset) plate, Haviland factory,
1876, Hexagonal vase , Limousin porcelain factory, 1925
After the Revolution a number of private factories were established
at Limoges, the chief of which was and remains Haviland. Thus "Limoges
porcelain", still acknowledged as the finest in France, is
a generic term for porcelain produced in Limoges rather than the
production of a specific factory, and is much sought after by collectors
worldwide. Some of its masterpieces can be viewed at the "Musée
de la Porcelaine de Limoges".
WHERE TO STAY AND WHERE TO EAT?
If you decide to play golf at La Porcelaine near Limoges and spend
some time exploring the area, you must stay at Domaine de Forest,
situated just 500m from the course.
We can vouch for the comfort and charm of this elegant and peaceful
18th century manor house and its huge grounds with beautiful panoramic
views of the Vienne Valley. We can also recommend the comfort of
its three rooms, two suites (with four-poster beds!) and four delightful
self-catering gîtes, the excellent breakfast spread (included in
the room price) and above all the friendly welcome and personal
attention of owners Terry and Jane Brunton.
You can make Domaine de Forest your base to explore the many attractions
of the area, play golf at la Porcelaine (where you will get a preferential
green free rate) or decide to stay at home and make the most of
the many on-site facilities, which include a large (17 m) salt water
swimming pool (with a fully licensed bar serving alcoholic and soft
drinks and refreshments- the building also houses a shower room
and WC for the convenience of swimming pool users), a well-appointed
gym with a wide variety of professional quality fitness equipment,
changing room, shower and toilet, as well as a sauna and jacuzzi,
tennis, basketball, badminton, table tennis and a trampoline. There
is even fishing in the Domain's small but well stocked lake, and
fishing rods are available.
For guests in the chambres dhôtes, there is also billiards
and a guest lounge with library and large screen satellite TV with
DVD, CD and video cassette player, while those who like to stay
"connected" will find complimentary high speed WiFi Internet
access. And if you really must come to such a lovely place and work,
a full-equipped seminar room with kitchen area and bar is available
that seats up to 15 people.
Rates are very reasonable, especially in view of the quality and
extent of the facilities, and generous off-season (October to March)
discounts are available. For more information:
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 31 33 68
(in English and French)
Nearby, a complimentary welcome drink and excellent food await
guests of Domaine de Forest at Domaine de la Gresle, one
of the most famous gourmet restaurants in the area which is housed
in a 17th century farm building. Family-owned and run, the welcome
is friendly and the decor, whether in the Louis XIII dining room
or out on the shady terrace, is all you would expect from quality
French dining. Very good value for money on either the fixed price
menus or à la carte, with plenty of emphasis on fresh local
produce. Open Monday to Sunday lunch, from Tuesday to Sunday lunch
in July and August.
Domaine de la Gresle
La Gresle, 87350 Panazol
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 06 27 82
Hôtel Restaurant le Saint Etienne ** (click here for a photo gallery about this hotel)
Place du Bourg, 19190 Aubazine
+33 (0)5 55 25 71 01
Website: Click here
Hôtel-Restaurant du Lac
La Plage, 19160 Neuvic
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 95 81 43
Restaurant "Les Diligences" (M. Patrick Paule)
28 route de Guéret,
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 64 87 70
Fax: +33 (0)5 55 64 79
E-mail : email@example.com - firstname.lastname@example.org
GASTRONOMY AND LIMOUSIN SPECIALITIES
The Limousin is known for its good, wholesome cooking using local
produce such as river fish, pork or beef, and chestnuts or wild
mushrooms that are plentiful in such a wooded area. Here are some
quite easy recipes to try your hand on:
"Cèpes Farcis" (Stuffed Porcini Mushrooms)
A quick and easy starter that can also be made with ordinary large
flat mushrooms. Serves 6.
Ingredients: 12 large cèpes, 3 slices of cured ham, 4 chopped
shallots, 1 clove garlic, chopped parsley and chives, 2 tbsp oil,
2 knobs butter, salt and pepper.
1. Quickly fry the cleaned cèpes in oil and put the heads
upside down in an oven-proof dish.
2. Cut the stalks and ham into small pieces and fry them in butter
together with shallots and garlic.
3. Put the mixture onto mushroom heads. Season well and sprinkle
4. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs
Pâté aux pommes de terre
Traditionally this easy and cheap recipe was made with leftover
bread dough and was cooked in the bread oven.
Ingredients: 300g sifted flour, 150g butter, 1 egg, a pinch of
salt, 20cl water
For the stuffing: 800g firm potatoes, 1 litre milk, 2 onions, 150g
fatty bacon, 1 soup spoon butter, 1 soup spoon oil, 2 soup spoons
chopped parsley and chives, salt and pepper, 1 egg yolk, 2 soup
spoons milk, 20cl cream.
1. First prepare the pastry: Put the flour in a bowl, add the softened
butter, salt, egg and water. Mix with your hands and shape into
a ball. Leave to rest for 2 hours.
2. Then prepare the filling: Peel and wash the potatoes, then dry
them before cutting them into thin slices. Boil the milk. Remove
from heat. Add the potatoes and let them soak for 30 minutes. Next
peel and chop onions, cut bacon into cubes.
3. Fry bacon in butter and oil. Replace by onions, do not brown
them. Put in a bowl, mix in herbs, strained potatoes and bacon.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Divide the pastry into two, (1/3;
2/3) and roll out to 2mm thickness. Butter and flour a deep tart
mould (or crumble dish). Spread half the larger pastry over (letting
it hang over the side by 3cm). Pour in the potato mixture. Top with
the rest of the pastry and press over the edges. Brush the pastry
with the egg yolk mixed with the milk. Cut a hole and put "chimney"
in the middle to let steam out.
5. Put the "pâté" in the oven and leave to
cook for 45 minutes, check the browning and turn oven down if necessary.
Towards the end of cooking time, pour cream in through chimney.
Serve at once.
This is a very tasty salt pork stew - the local hotpot. Prepare
it the day before and it will be even better, and you can make a
delicious soup with any leftover vegetables and broth!
Ingredients (serves 6 to 8 people): 500 g salt pork, 200 g sliced
smoked bacon, 4 chipolatas, 1 cabbage, 250 g carrots, 250 g turnips,
250 g leeks, 2 cloves of garlic, bouquet garni, pepper, 800 g potatoes.
1. First wash the cabbage, cut it in quarters and blanch it in boiling
water. Strain it.
2. Then put the meats in a pressure cooker half filled with boiling
water. Skim after a few minutes.
3. Add the bouquet garni and all the vegetables except the potatoes.
Season with pepper (but no salt).
4. Bring the pressure up and cook for 40 minutes.
5. Let the pressure cooker cool down and add the peeled potatoes.
6. Bring the pressure up again and cook for a further 10 minutes.
7. Now fry the chipolatas.
8. Carve the meat into thick slices and remove the bouquet garni
This quick and easy recipe is similar to the traditional French
dessert called "clafoutis" (fresh cherry flan). It can
also be made with pears or, of course, cherries.
Ingredients: 500 g apples, 150 g sugar, 1/2 litre milk, 100 g flour,
1 knob of butter, 1 pinch of salt, vanilla extract, 3 eggs.
1. First preheat oven to 180°C. Peel, quarter and core the apples
and cut them into thin slices.
2. Next heat up the milk, butter and vanilla extract in a pan.
3. Then beat the eggs, sugar (keeping some back) and salt in separate
bowl to blend.
4. Add hot milk a little at a time and whisk until smooth.
5. Now arrange the slices in bottom of a greased gratin dish (deep
rectangular dish will do) and pour the mixture over. Sprinkle on
the set-aside powdered sugar.
6. Bake in pre-heated oven until the "flognarde" is set
and golden on top.
Very popular in the autumn, this "crêpe" recipe
incorporates chestnut purée.
Ingredients for the basic "Crêpes" recipe (serves
6-8 people): 250g plain flour, 30g sugar, pinch of salt, 6 eggs,
50cl milk, 25cl cream, 50g melted butter.
1. First mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Next make a well in the middle and mix in the eggs one at a time.
3. Slowly add the milk whilst beating.
4. Finally, add the melted butter and cream.
5. Leave the batter to rest for an hour.
6. Heat a non-stick pan. Lightly brush pan with butter or oil. Make
pancakes the traditional French way.
7. Stack and keep them warm.
Ingredients for 8 large crêpes: 8 dessert spoons of "crème
de marron" (tin of sweet chestnut purée), 8 dessert
spoons of thick crème fraîche, 2 dessert spoon of rum,
4 oranges, icing sugar, marmalade.
1. First mix together crème de marron, crème fraîche
2. Then peel oranges and remove the pith and pips.
3. Next spread crème de marron/crème fraîche
mixture on each crêpe and put orange (segments) on top.
4. Fold in half and in half again forming triangle four layers thick.
5. Put on warmed serving dish, and decorate with warm marmalade,
some icing sugar and orange slices.
HOW TO GET THERE?
By air to Limoges: Daily flights from Stansted as well as
flights from Liverpool, Southampton, East Midlands and this year,
Newcastle and Manchester. Both Ryanair and Flybe offer flights from
the UK to Limoges airport.
Airport website: www.aeroportlimoges.com
By air to Brive:
Airport website: www.aeroport-brive-souillac.com/
Regional French airline for internal flights: www.airlinair.com
By train: From Paris Austerlitz to Limoges and Brive-la-Gaillarde
(10 return journeys daily)
By car: Paris-Limoges is only 380 km on the A10/A71/A20
Paris - Vierzon - Châteauroux - Limoges-Brive (the motorway
is free from Vierzon to Brive).
For further information on general tourism in the Limousin, please
Comité Régional du Tourisme Limousin
30, cours Gay Lussac CS 50095
87003 Limoges Cedex 1
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 11 05 90
Fax : +33 (0)5 55 05 07 56
(currently in French only)
For information about golf in the Limousin, please contact:
Golf en Limousin
Maison Régionale du Tourisme
37, Cours Gay Lussac CS 50095
87003 Limoges Cedex 1
Tel: +33 (0)5 55 11 06 02
|Click on a course to read our feature and look at the photo
galleries in the article above:
Photo credits: © Golf en Limousin - Musée National Adrien Dubouché - CRT Limousin - GolfToday