Golf has gotten a lot cooler these days.
That may come as a surprise to the casual observer, but for those who know and love the sport, it's widely known. And one golf course in France — Le Golf National
— is Exhibit A.
Nestled among the perimeter of the Haute Vallée de Chevereuse, a protected national forest complete with historical chateaus just southwest of Paris, the course is a relative newbie in golf terms, opening in 1990. Playing upon the surrounding topography that eschews a neatly manicured space for rolling hills flanked by wild grasses and flowers, Le Golf National comprises three courses: the 9-hole L’Oiselet (Birdie) learner’s course, 18-hole Aigle (Eagle) links course, and the Albatros, site of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
All photos courtesy of Le Golf National
The European team won the Ryder Cup last year on the Albatros course. The 18th hole, “La Foule,” which spans a body of water, is arguably one of the most difficult holes in Europe. But everything else at Le Golf National is all about the easy life.
Start with the members-only clubhouse that overlooks the green from second story panoramic windows of the modern graphic building that houses the facility. It gives off an ultra-relaxed vibe, and is a place where members can host a private, post-course event or simply take in the view watching others play.
The carefree attitude that permeates the property translates to golfers’ style. It’s not uncommon to see cheeky prints on men’s shirts and on-trend details like mesh and crystal embellishments on women’s. They're just more casual at Le Golf National.
Down a corridor is the Novotel Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, a modern, inviting space for the next generation of golf lovers. From the lobby with a live moss plant wall depicting two golf clubs and settees made from leather straps referencing a strap on a golf bag, to the clear plastic poofs with hay and golf balls inside, you know this isn’t a stuffy club. The atmosphere is more chill than traditional.
Courtesy of Le Golf National
The main lobby boasts Gourmet Bar, which caters to a sophisticated palette but in a laid-back style. Mix-matched barstools and a stainless steel and mosaic tile design give it a hipster feel. Here, guests can have a unique dining experience in line with today’s modern palette. Menu highlights include custom grain bowls, ceviche, beef tataki, beet “cappuccino,” and grilled shrimp with gin-based sauce. Finish off a meal with chia pudding and roasted fruit with hibiscus juice and custom-created cocktails. Sip a drink (or two) at the large rectangular bar, which features a charging station on one side, a pool table on the other, a kids’ corner to keep the young ones busy while parents unwind, and a modern colorful dining area that has a “present-day Mad Men-era feel.” One side looks out onto the patio seating overlooking a pool and the course.
Artwork throughout the hotel is by Hubert Privé, a beloved French artist whose specialty is creating witty sculptures centered around all things golf. (Those entering Le Golf National will recognize the tri-color blue, white, and red massive golf tees mimicking the French flag.) In the cozy, sleek masculine suites, photos of the sculptures cover the walls. The bathrooms are often done in a moody brown motif and feature shower heads that dispense essentials oil of the guests’ choice (think Nespresso capsules but for your bath.)
That’s easy style, the French way.