Culinary delights and the world’s best wine
A taste of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is, as we all know, lined to the hilt with culinary delights and famous chateaux where the world’s best wine flows freely. The golf courses are pretty appealing, too! So why hasn’t the region, and France as a whole, made it to the top of the list of Europe’s great golfing destinations?
France has the climate, the courses, a good bit of history, sights, culture and food to die for. Why haven’t hordes of foreign golfing tourists descended upon the golf courses we’re playing? While we were waiting to tee off at such well-known courses in Bordeaux as Les Chateaux and Les Vignes at Golf du Medoc, there were only locals in our immediate vicinity. In the clubhouse after the rounds, we could hear the din of French conversations at tables around us while we dined on local oysters, foie gras and tasted the renowned Medoc red wines along with our Boeuf Bazadais.
The French have guarded their secret well, but it may not be kept locked much longer. The powers that be in French golf are keen to make their country known to the world of golf travelers.
Today there are 400,000 registered golfers in France, a country with a population of 66 million. In other words there’s a long way to go before golf becomes everyman’s sport, as it is in Sweden, Ireland or the UK. In Sweden, about one in every 20 citizens plays golf. In France, this number is drastically less – about only one in every 200 citizens is a golfer. Most people in France still think of golf as something that the privileged classes pursue, whiling away the hours in a life of ease.
This is a mentality that is holding golf back. But in 2018 the Ryder Cup will be hosted in Paris, and the hope and belief is that French golf will get a boost during and after that event. Everybody within the industry is working to get the public perception of golf out of the old stereotypes. The ultimate goal? That would be France’s elevation to a status of leading European golf destination. With almost 600 golf courses spread across the country, France has almost double the number of courses that Ireland has. Yet, it has a fraction of the number of golf tourists.
Home of the Claret Jug?
For anyone who’s spent any time on France’s top golf courses, these numbers are hard to fathom. But attitudes are changing. We see this on our trip to Bordeaux, the home of the wine that gave the Open Championship’s coveted trophy its nickname: the Claret Jug. In England, a red wine from Bordeaux is known as a ‘claret’ – thereof the name. The British have had a special relationship with Bordeaux since the region was under English rule for 300 years, from 1152 to 1453. Even then ‘claret’ was well known in distant lands. The people of Bordeaux have made wine since the time of the Roman invasion in 52 B.C.