TRAVEL: New French pastures for Sevenoaks golfers

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By OaksScoop | Monday, December 17, 2012, 03:21

Golf in France has been growing in popularity over the last decade. The country, which is due to host the Ryder Cup in 2018, now attracts many players from the UK and particularly from Kent due to the ease of getting across the channel to courses in Northern France.

France, however, is a massive country and has hundreds of courses to explore. Take Drôme for example, a department in south-eastern France, which lies within the region of Rhône-Alpes.

On the face of it, Drôme does not look like an obvious short break destination for Kent golfers and tourists despite the fact it boasts an overabundance of excellent courses, tourist attractions, vineyards and excellent restaurants.

But the area is not that well known to the UK market mainly due to the fact it is not served by any low cost airlines.This is now changing thanks to the introduction of a Rail Europe service.

Catch the Eurostar from St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford International to Lille at around 8am and after changing trains you will be in the Drôme city of Valence in the afternoon and still have time for a quick round at somewhere nearby such as Golf Club des Chan alets, an excellent 18-hole course.

You can choose to stay in a hotel in one of the busier cities or towns such as Valence, Romans-sur-Isère, Montélimar or Nyons. Alternatively get away from it all by booking into one of the delightful bed and breakfasts or gites in the surrounding countryside.

For something a bit different stay at the Golf de la Drôme Provençale in Clasayes. This old farmhouse has been transformed into several self-catering gite apartments that can accommodate up to 20 guests.

The surrounding farmland has been developed into a testing 9-hole course and there is also a restaurant serving traditional French cuisine. Between rounds you can enjoy lunch in the farmhouse courtyard.

The choice of courses in Drôme is extensive and others worth a visit include Golf d'Albon within the magnificent grounds around the Château de Senaud in Saint-Rambert-d'Albon; Golf Club de Valence Saint-Didier near Valence; Golf Club de La Valdaine, east of Montélimar; plus the 9-hole courses of Golf Club Chapelle-en-Vercors and the new Golf du Bourget.

But Drôme is not just about golf. Other sporting activities during the summer include walking, mountain biking, and climbing plus canoeing, kayaking, rafting and fishing on the Drôme River. In the winter there is skiing, cross-country skiing, and snow-shoeing.

Add to this the tourist attractions such as castles, medieval villages, vineyards, wine tasting, wellness and spa centres, all set in beautiful countryside.

Plus don't forget the department's culinary delights. The chef at the celebrated Pic restaurant in Valence, for example, is Anne-Sophie Pic who took over the reins from her father, Jacques.

Thanks to her, Valence is the only place in France with a woman chef who has been awarded three Michelin stars.

Two other Valence chefs have also recently won a Michelin star. Isichi Masachi at La Cachette and Baptiste Poinot at the restaurant Flaveurs.

To give you more of a flavour of Drôme there is a photo gallery on the Sevenoaks People pictures site which you can see by clicking here.



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