Posts Tagged ‘Le Golf National’

TSG Interview – Paul Armitage at Le Golf National…

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Paul Armitage - General Manager at Le Golf National, ParisFollowing our round on L’ Albatros we sat down with Englishmen, Paul Armitage (General Manager of Le Golf National) to discuss his vision for the course and his excitement at being one of the few people in golf to experience, and deliver, the greatest show on earth this September…


Afternoon Paul and thank you for giving up your time for The Social Golfer.

Firstly, you don’t need me to tell you, but I think the course up superb.

The Ryder Cup layout not only provides the event with a natural amphitheater, but I have no doubt that it will also prove a hit with the spectators.

There’s a real sense of theatre about the viewing positions, which will generate a superb atmosphere.

So, what’s an Englishmen doing in Paris running a Ryder up venue, how did you get here and what has been your greatest challenge since taking over the helm in 2014?

“Well, I was born and bred in Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire and whilst I was an avid golfer, I was never good enough to think about being a golf professional and I never wanted to be an assistant pro.

So, I went to Northumbria University and studied international business finance. This included a year in France as part of the Erasmus program, meaning I discovered continental Europe at an early age.

Meanwhile, I was there, I was volunteering at a local golf course at the kid’s school and was later asked if I would be interested taking care of the competitions and events….

I did that job for three years, very happily, developing the turnover, membership programme, when a very exclusive private members club approached me to work for them.

However, as I was only 27, I was really far too young to take it through the change that was needed at that golf course.

As an Englishman, the Continentals assume you know everything about Golf, which of course you don’t but I coped and four years later we had created a Challenge Tour event and many high-end business events.

This then became a golf events agency, which turned into a marketing agency.

Later I worked for Le Club Golf, which is a network of 130 clubs (in France there is 700+ golf club with 50% of these belonging to a commercial group).

I was then asked to join the team at Le Golf National.  I started in August 2014 (after the bidding process) – the flagship venue for the French Golf Federation.”

What an opportunity, so what has been the Paul Armitage strategy at putting Le Golf National at the heart of the French Golf network?

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1“It’s been a creative process but ultimately, we can sum this up in a four-letter word. It’s not the one that you’re thinking of…. It’s LOVE!

It’s been about instilling this in all the staff minds and the visiting public. (Yes, Le Golf National is a PUBLIC course! – Ed.).

We concluded that we must put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and demonstrate to visitors, how much we LOVE the venue too

This follows through from the marketing staff through to the greenkeepers. The current Greenkeeping team is headed up by hugely talented and young man from Spain, who was working there for Jack Nicklaus design.

He also spent long periods in America. He is very passionate about the course and I think he’s brought 15 centimeters of extra sand on both fairways and greens.

We were very good from tee to green before 2014, but you wouldn’t recognize this place compared to today and that Is a credit to the team.”

So as a Public course, what is the business model?

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1“When I started there was little difference on price across our three courses, so we immediately invested in L’Albatros (now circa 120 euros), which appealed to a higher end audience with the L’ Aigle (now circa 60 euros) providing visitors with a  more affordable green fee option.

This has allowed us to raise the quality of the flagship course hugely.

Previously the course has hosted more than 20 French Opens, meaning we are top of mind for French visitors but The Ryder Cup will allow us to reach golfers from further afield e.g. the UK.

In addition, the venue will be host to the 2024 Paris Olympics meaning there is a legacy for the course beyond September”

How and why was Le Golf National chosen as this year’s host venue and can you describe the course to potential visitors?

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1“Well one of the things going for us was the course was both established and proven in hosting big European tour events.

In addition, it’s also a good reward risk or reward golf course meaning that it is much loved by the European tour players, a big help when convincing the ‘powers that be’ to choose us.

Our well-earned reputation was also underpinned by the support from the French government and the French Golf Federation.

There was immediate state support ensuring the event was also secure and credible and not a financial risk.

In addition, all French golfers were part of a crowd-funding project whereby every golfer paid a levy on their membership fee to the tune of 3 euros per year.

Some of these funds were also channeled into the next generation of French academy golfers. The final reason is the proximity to Paris.

This will be the first Ryder Cup to be played in a capital city, meaning transport links, accommodation, are already in place”

So, if you had to sum of Le Golf National in one sentence what would you say and how much does it cost to be a member and what level of golfer do I need to be to play here?

“I want Le Golf National to be the MOST exclusive public golf course in the world!”

“We don’t have any members. We have a small number of subscribers who buy different Flexi memberships from around. 200 euros a month.

However, you have a handicap of 28 or below to play L’Albatros” (very reasonable! Ed.) Whilst it’s unfair to compare any golf course to another, we see Bethpage Golf Club as who we can aspire to be.

Bethpage is publicly owned by the Public Parks Council in New York. So, they’re very similar to us.”

Let’s talk about the competition, what are you really looking forward to most and what has been your most memorable moment so far?

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1“You know, I haven’t thought about this one. Hmmm…Of course, I am really looking forward to welcoming all the players on the first day.

However, I am very excited, about the first day when we will host the BIGGEST ever grandstand on the first tee in the history of the event but there is so much to do between now and then.

I guess the proudest moment of my career to date was to be asked to MC at the ‘One Year to Go’ event and Gala Dinner – a very proud moment indeed!

But now I think about it, I think there are many moments already which would have been amazing. It’s really a massive honour to do this job. I’m not joking.

You know, I don’t do it for free obviously, but it is an achievement in life that you look back on with huge pride.

What’s the best so far? Maybe working with the 800 kids in a match between Thomas Bjorn and Jim Furyk.

They didn’t actually play with a Captain of the USA and European teams, but they followed the youngsters in buggies with microphones, interviews, that was fun!

I am also looking forward to seeing how the teams react, The US team have got a young and friendly generation coming up who were changing things a bit American golf and they have built close relationships with each other than before.

Like our guys (European Team) 10, 15 years ago when Rose, Poulter, Westwood, and Rory were coming through, we were a team”.

The feeling we get from Bjorn and Furyk is there will be a friendlier atmosphere at this year’s cup but who is going to win?        

“Hmmm…. I’m going to send that one back to you. You must ask them that. It’s not for me to say. All I can say is they will both want to win!

I don’t mean to suggest that anyone will be unfriendly, but they are both wonderful people and highly motivated.”

Paul Armitage - Le Golf National 1

And finally? What is your message to TSGers who want to come and play L’Albatros?

“Please come! We welcome all golfers to visit and enjoy a great experience. Play both a Ryder Cup AND the 2024 Olympic Games golf course.

And hopefully, you will fall in LOVE with Le Golf National too”.

Paul Armitage was talking to Ian Mullins for TheSocialGolfer.com

 


 

Our TSG Verdict: We couldn’t have been welcomed more by the staff and team at Le Golf National – our thanks to everyone there – we wish Paul Armitage and all his team well for September. We’ll all be glued to our screens cheering you, and European Team on to victory!

 

 

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review …

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

It’s 2018 and that means The Ryder Cup year! As some of you may have read on the TSG Facebook newsfeed, we recently took up the invite to visit Le Golf National – the host venue in Paris. Here’s our special report from Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review…

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Club…

Although only built in 1990, Le Golf National is a much more established than its age suggests.  Designed by architects Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge.

It is located in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, southwest of central Paris, just 10k from the world-renowned Palace of Versailles, and only 4 hours drive from Calais.

However, Le Golf National differs from any other Ryder Cup venue in that it is a Public course. This means that there is no ‘club’ as such, and no ‘members’, only Pay & Players. The course is also unique in the sense that it is owned by the French Golf Federation (FFG).

In September 1985 the President – Claude Roger Cartier – with his committee approved the creation and development of a “National Golf” venue and it was quickly completed and opened by the French Minister for Sports by R. Bambuck in October 1990.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Team …

The management team is small but effective and is headed up by Englishman Paul Armitage (who has been at the club since 2014).

Paul, who along with his very dedicated team has – over the last four years – put ‘LOVE’ at the heart of everything they do onsite, and its clear this strategy is paying off as everyone you meet including shop personnel bar staff are full of enthusiasm for the club (not always the case in the UK!)

This means it now rates among the best in the world. In addition, the course boasts an incredibly committed team of greenkeepers and advisors from the European Tour (preparing the track for Sept) but high praise was given to Spanish born Head Greenkeeper Alejandro Reyes, who at only 33 years old is the youngest person to ever prepare a Ryder Cup course.

The grounds, which cover 139 hectares, were originally flat and bare having been used as agricultural land since Louis XIV and the Château de Versailles when it was one of the areas where wheat was farmed.

Constructed to give a ‘stadium like’ feel to events and in time for the 1991 Open de France, The Albatros course has been their near-permanent home for the past 25 years.

In the wind and rain of the first day of the aforementioned first Open de France played on The Albatros, Nick Faldo deemed his score of 71 “Tough but fair”.

The Open de France had found its home. Other players from the European Tour also voiced their approval, mentioning The Albatros as one of their favourite courses.

In addition, to the flagship championship course, there is also The Aigle which was opened in September 1991, preceded by the 9 hole, Birdie Academy Course a few months before.

The venue has recently undergone a €7 million renovation programme to transform this national golf centre. The Championship Albatros course is now a globally recognised course with slick greens and vast undulating fairways dotted with large and small water hazards and innumerable links-style bunkers.

The course is consistently ranked in the World’s Top 100 Courses and Europe’s Top 10 by Golf World (UK) magazine.

We spent a long time chatting with GM – Paul Armitage – while in Paris and he shared much of his vision for the club.

This included an insight into the future of French Golf and while all eyes are focused on The Ryder Cup in 2018, it’s worth noting that Paul and his team have been successful at bidding to be the host venue for the Paris Olympics too.

Meaning, not only is there a legacy planned for the course but Le Golf National is also now home to the next generation of French golfers – with many young players to see as you make your way around the campus. More from Paul in the TSG February newsletter.

 Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – L’ Albatros…

An unforgettable experience…m

As you walk to the 1st Tee, you can sense, you can feel, you can hear the crowd: you realise that The Albatros is the perfect battlefield for one of the greatest duels in Sport.

The spectacular landscape has been created 30 years ago and recently remodelled. You cannot believe that it was constructed on old farmland.

It took more than 1k+ truckloads of rubble from Paris, tons of sand has been laid on the fairways and clever use of rainwater to create majestic lakes, ponds & streams.

Only the best sand has been used for this top European course, home of the French Open since 1991 and a favourite of the European players.

There is a lot of wildlife, from birds of prey to fish, frogs & butterflies, rabbits and many other wild creatures. The Albatros is a public course, so anyone with a minimum 28 handicap may venture and face the challenges ahead.  The experience will be with you for the rest of your life.

Every hole is well conceived, extremely aesthetically presented. At this time of the year, the landscape is bare, so the scenery feels delicate, imagine a very “dainty” ink/pen drawing. Obviously the Spring, Summer & Autumn will be a lot greener. A super space for the avid photographer with a suitable lens & eye for beauty.

We played the course on the 10th of January 2018, after 42 consecutive days of rain, the condition of the course is absolutely immaculate, from Tee boxes (choice of 5 colours), to the large & sweeping & undulating fairways, carpet-like feel, to the slick & well-shaped greens.

All with the very subtle slopes towards the water hazards, to the softest and driest sand I have ever played from and were always nicely raked.

However, don’t venture off the fairways, as the rough will punish you! Many other golf courses in the Paris region were closed due to the wetness but The Albatros stood stoically.

All the paths are tarmac, the signage is good, lovely course planner endorsed by the Greenkeeper at each hole, a ball washer & towel, and bin.

Le Golf National - Ryder Cup Course ReviewThe walk is not too strenuous but there are elevations as we are playing a Links type course.  We did not have much wind on the day but any wind will alter your thinking.

The pins position can be tricky, I believe the 1st hole will have nine pin positions, while the green is sloping towards a large lake, that will come into play on the 2nd hole as well.

There is a toilet at the end of the 6th hole which also serves the golfers need when coming down the 13th,  a water fountain is also located at this point.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – Stand Out Holes…

It is very hard to pick my favourite holes as they all have a special attraction & challenge, the last 4 holes provide the most beautiful layout, water everywhere & bunkers! But here are our selected four holes:

HOLE 1 – Par 4, I was so excited to be at Le Golf National’s Albatros Course, that the 1st hole stole the show & set the tone of what to come, I got a good score too: a dogleg right, slightly downhill, wide fairway narrowing to the green with large expanse of water on the left.  The pin position can be tricky as the green slopes towards the water.

HOLE 7 – Par 4, This was Ian’s favourite hole. The 2nd hardest hole on the course, it begins with an uphill drive to a plateau, leaving a long iron shot over ‘moguls’ to a very well protected and sloping green – this hole could be a real a card-wrecker!

HOLE 13 – Par 4,  A downhill dogleg right, leftish to the green, with a fairly long carry to the fairway sloping to a water hazard on the right, a lake preceding the green.  Must be very pretty in the Springtime with all the foliage on the trees surrounding the approach.

HOLE 16 – Par 3, One of the 4 stunning final holes, short but water on the right and three large bunkers guarding the approach to the green. The day we played I had to shout Fore! as my lovely shot went towards one of the bunkers, lovingly attended by one of the greenkeepers, who kindly allowed me to take a free drop… I was very apologetic, who wants to injure such a great team!

The final four holes provide the most beautiful layout, creating an incredible finish: The 15th & 18th greens are islands.

I had the privilege to accompany Monsieur Mullins on this two-day tour of this extraordinary scene at the Golf National.

There is a nice atmosphere in this very well managed golf venue (there are 2 other courses, The Aigle 18 holes, and The Oiselet, a 9 Academy course), a very large open-air driving range, putting greens, a Clubhouse modernly furnished with bar for drinks & food.

A dedicated team, who understand what a golf course & surroundings need to be like, how to create an image, how to treat its visiting golfers, one can feel it is managed with “LOVE” (see above).

Extremely warm, friendly & relaxed welcome in the chic Pro shop/Reception (it tops Wentworth’s), gorgeous & technical golf clothing with all the other goodies one needs for a good round, lots of the 2018 Ryder Cup memorabilia, a very artistic photo book by Claude Rodriguez that got my eye.

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – The Verdict …

5 Out of 5!

My recommendation is to go, and go now!

You will have a very enjoyable experience on one of the Top 10 European golf courses, L’ Albatros will make history in the 2018 golfing world as its only the second time ever the event has been held outside of Great Britain.

For me, it was a proud moment to be on my home ground, I felt spoilt, I hope from the bottom of my heart that many “Social Golfers” will embrace the opportunity to play The Albatros course before end of August (or from October) and remember, if you need a native speaker, think of me….

Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review by Brigitte Lockwood


Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – How To Get There with Golf Escapes…

Le Golf National Golf PackagesTSG official travel partner Golf Escapes can provide not only the accommodation and tee times at Le Golf National but all the help you will need in booking your Eurotunnel shuttle.

We used these experts to make our booking and it couldn’t have been easier.  Whether you want to play the course OR attend the event itself, Golf escapes can help.

Here are a few tips to remember when traveling to Le Golf National…

1. Le Shuttle Folkestone – arrive 45 minutes before departure to ensure a smooth experience.

2. Don’t forget the one hour time difference if you are planning to play golf on your arrival day.

3. Once you are in France, remember to drive on the right (this may sound obvious but…)

4. Know your obligations when driving in France e.g. warning triangles & high visibility jackets are a legal requirement. As are headlights reflectors, roadside recovery, a spare headlight bulb, your logbook and a copy of your insurance.

Finally, note, the course itself only closes just under a month before the big occasion.

For further details email us at info@golf-escapes.com , Click Here or CALL a member of the team on 01342 811 777

 Le Golf National – Ryder Cup Course Review – Find more TSG reviews here…

Countdown to Ryder Cup at Le Golf National begins …

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Ryder Cup 2018-Le Golf-National launchThere is less than a year to go until the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, France (September 28-30, 2018).

As such, golf fans and commuters enjoyed their own rendezvous with one of the world’s most famous sports trophies, when it went on public display at London St Pancras International….

The Ryder Cup & Le Golf National …

Having returned from Paris and the ‘Year to Go’ celebrations, which saw European and the United States Team Captains Thomas Bjørn and Jim Furyk engage in a range of promotional activities including hitting balls off the Eiffel Tower.

However, the trophy was the star attraction at Eurostar’s London terminus on Thursday, October 26th.

Fans were able to sit on the European Captain’s golf car and have ‘selfie’ photographs taken with the trophy (#FeelFranceRC18).

The event also showcased France, next year’s host of the biennial match between Europe and the United States, as the perfect destination for international golfers before, during and after The 2018 Ryder Cup

In 2016, France welcomed 82.6 million international tourists, including 11.9 million from the UK via convenient train, ferry and air links.

Figures for the first half of 2017 indicate a 5% year-on-year increase in the number of visitors to France from the UK.

Among the most popular golf regions for UK golfers, are Normandy, Brittany and Provence, as well as the Paris region. Le Golf National is just 21 miles from the centre of Paris.

The number of golfers travelling to France could be boosted further after Eurostar was announced as Official Supplier of The 2018 Ryder Cup, carrying representatives of the European Team to Paris next September.

Ryder Cup - Le Golf National - Brigitte LockwoodThe Ryder Cup to Le Golf National countdown begins – What they said…

Gwénaëlle Maret-Delos, Managing Director of Atout France UK & Ireland, the France Tourism Development Agency, which hosted the Ryder Cup Rendezvous event, said…

“There are 600 golf courses in France including some of the most beautiful courses in Europe. While France is the most visited country in the world, it remains less well known as a golf destination”

“The 2018 Ryder Cup, broadcasting from Le Golf National to the world, will no doubt encourage more golfers to choose France, our golf courses and, of course, our ‘après-golf’, for their golf holidays.”

Richard Hills, Ryder Cup Europe Director, said…

“Le Golf National, Paris and France is ready for The Ryder Cup and will be a wonderful host for the 42nd edition of this match, which has become one of the greatest sports events in the world.” 

“In just under a year’s time, representatives of the European Team will set off from London St Pancras International and travel by Eurostar train to Paris”.

“I have no doubt fans and golfers will be making their own journeys to France in the coming months, to play on the country’s beautiful courses and support the team next September.”

Le Golf National, France, will host The 2018 Ryder Cup from September 28-30, 2018, when Europe will try to regain the trophy following defeat at Hazeltine National in the United States, last year.

The team, under the captaincy of Thomas Bjørn, will be looking to extend an impressive winning record on home soil which stretches back to 1997.


By Ian Mullins

Golf Holidays in France; A Golfer’s Guidebook …

Monday, April 14th, 2014

France is one of the most popular golfing destinations there are amongst UK golfers, and it’s not hard to see why; home to some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, France also boasts fascinating culture, incredible cuisine, absorbing history and spectacular and varied scenery.

With over 550 golf courses to choose from, all with differing landscape, attractions and degrees of difficulty, a French golf holiday really will leave you spoilt for choice.

From golfing in the majestic and romantic surroundings of Paris to teeing off against the beautiful blue backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea in the South, you will find your perfect golf location here.

Golf Holidays in France…

A French golfing trip offers you the chance to combine your game with a city break or beach holiday – or for more adventurous types, you can mix golf with skiing in Biarritz, wine tasting in Bordeaux, or even mountain climbing in the French Alps.

Accessible from the UK by plane, car, ferry or train in just an hour or two, France is the obvious choice for the ultimate golfing holiday!

Golf Holidays in France

Golf National, France

Image courtesy of Golf National

Whichever golfing resort you decide upon, you are guaranteed to have a wonderful time in France. With its laid-back attitude, stunning golf courses and more cheese and wine than you could enjoy in a lifetime, France makes the ultimate indulgent golf break! Have a look at our favourites below:

Golf National, Golf De Cannes Mougins, Golf Club De Lyon

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Golf Holidays in France – Le Golf National, Paris

Le Golf National’s two 18-hole, par-72 championship courses and short academy layout made it the clear choice to be the permanent host of the French Open – and now Le Golf National will play host to the Ryder Cup in 2018.

Thought by many to be the best golf course in France, Golf National was also voted the fifth best course on the whole continent by Golf World magazine in 2011.

Golf Holidays in France

Le Golf National, Paris

French Golf Image courtesy of Golf National

The natural park course stretches over 7,300 yards from the back tees and is decked with small lakes, sweeps of long  grasses, gorse bushes and dune-like landscaping, all of which come together to make Golf National arguably one of the most challenging courses in France, as well as one of the best!

A must for all golf enthusiasts whatever their level, visitors can play at Golf National for a green fee of € 90 on weekdays and € 130 on the weekends.

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Golf Holidays in France – Golf Club de Lyon, Lyon

Founded in 1921 and set in a magnificent 500 acre estate, Golf Club de Lyon hosted the French Open in 2001 and is considered one of France’s most beautiful courses.

Stretching an impressive 6,700 metres in total, the course is bordered by the River Rhone on one side and dense woodland on the other, ensuring you breath-taking views whichever direction you’re teeing off in!

Golf Holidays in France

Le Golf National, Paris

Image courtesy of Golf Club de Lyon

Designed by French architect Hugues Lambert, Golf Club de Lyon has two full 18-hole, par-72 golf courses – ‘Les Brocards’ (young Roe deer) and ‘Le Sangliers’ (wild boar).

Visitors can play at Golf Club de Lyon for a green fee of €65 on weekdays and €80 on weekends, and anyone not especially interested in golf will enjoy having the vibrant city of Lyon right on their doorstep: known as the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon offers you more restaurants and cafes than you can imagine!

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Golf Holidays in France – Golf Country Club de Cannes-Mougin, Mougin

Just a few miles away from the famous seafront at Cannes lies the fabulous Golf Country Club de Cannes-Mougin, an 18-hole Championship golf course which ranks alongside some of the best courses in the country.

The 6,312 metre long course is also considered one of the most attractive.

Gilf holidays in France

Golf Country Club de Cannes-Mougin, Mougin

Image courtesy of Golf Country Club de Cannes-Mougin

You will be able to enjoy spell-binding views of the Southern Alps mountain range as you tee off here, as well as a unique sense of tranquillity from this tree-lined course.

The layout of this course is perfect to test your overall golfing skills, and there are plenty of attractive, expertly crafted and tricky holes to play.

Visitors can play at Cannes-Mougin for a green fee of € 120, which gives them access to the full course, driving range, putting green, pitching green, and chipping green.

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Golf Holidays in France – Climate

Due to being so closely located to the UK, the northern parts of France share a very similar climate, with commonly cool winters and mild summers.

However, the South of France is much warmer and usually experiences mild winters and hot summers.

In general, the best months to golf in France are from June to September, although if you are playing in the South of France then October is usually still fine.

You are advised to avoid taking your golf holiday during the wetter, colder months (from October/November to April).

Golf Holidays in France – Getting there …

Travelling from the UK to France is straightforward, quick and inexpensive, and there are four popular modes of travel – plane, Channel Tunnel, ferry and train.

If you are travelling with a car, or with a group of people, then the Eurostar or ferry is recommended.

Golf Holidays in France – The Eurostar:

From Kings Cross St Pancras in London you can get the Eurostar to Paris, which takes about two hours and 15 minutes.

Prices depend on the time of day but generally start from £44.50.

Golf Holidays in France – By Plane:

From London airports to Paris, the flight time is about an hour.

The cost depends on when you are going but averages out at about £60. October is the most expensive month to travel.

Golf Holidays in France – By Car/Channel Tunnel:

You can get to France from Folkestone, Kent via the Channel Tunnel, which will take you to Calais. Prices start from £46 for one car and four passengers.

Golf Holidays in France – By Ferry:

You can choose to get the ferry from Dover to Calais; prices start from £10 for two people with a car, but are generally about £30.

The journey takes just over two hours.

Golf Holidays in France

Dover to Calais ferry, golf, france

Dover to Calais ferry image courtesy of Flor!an via Flickr

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By Ella Jameson