Romantic and family golfing holidays in the Dordogne
Family Vacations: A range of activities for parents and their youngsters: golf, nine swimming pools, tennis, biking, horse riding, canoeing and other outdoor pursuits, oodles of historic sight seeing, plus private and luxurious family lodgings and a variety of dining options: self-catering or at a choice of restaurants.
Romantic Breaks: Breathtaking scenery and serenity, intimate dining, a multitude of activities for couples; superb accommodations in unforgettable settings.
Gourmet Breaks: Food fanciers could go quietly potty hereabouts. With several Michelin starred restaurants and other dining of the top echelon, this may be the gourmet capital of La Belle France! And then there's the local wine.....
A new airport at Brive has opened up the Dordogne Valley region where a string of small towns and picture book villages line the banks of the Dordogne river to create a diverting retreat for gourmets, golfers, romantics and active families. Renowned for its cuisine, its wine and scenery, the region's history is also on display through beautifully preserved, centuries-old chateaux, some of which offer romantic accommodations and memorable dining.
Where To Stay
Families and golfers will be enchanted by the Souillac Golf & Country Club, a self-contained resort offering various activities and first class dining. Accommodations are available in a collection of stylish, self-catering timber lodges (see photo above), from two to four bedrooms, most overlooking the golf course and all with access to swimming pools and the resort's various recreational activities.
The free standing, two storey lodges are set in groups of six or seven in a number of hamlets scattered about the 120 hectare estate. All have second floor balconies, some covered allowing an al fresco breakfast or lunch and all giving views of the stunning countryside. Each lodge is beautifully furnished and with every facility: central heating, satellite television, ultra-modern kitchens and with two or more bathrooms.
Romantics, history buffs, gourmets and honeymooners would delight in staying at the nearby Le Chateau de La Treyne, a 14th Century castle set in 300 wooded acres overlooking the River Dordogne. A renowned member of Relais & Chateaux since 1992, it is sumptuously appointed and furnished with impeccable taste, a de luxe hotel which has 14 bedrooms and two apartments in addition to various public salons and expansive gardens with river views. The piece de resistance is an exquisite dining room, the grand Louis XIII salon, that boasts d'Aubusson tapestries and whose windows give views, over the terrace, of the river far below. Dining here is the stuff of gastronomic dreams. The hotel's warming ambience has to be experienced; the standard of service is a glorious bonus.
Guests wishing to self-cater at the country club will find every facility in-house and there are shops at the nearby town. Most guests self-cater for breakfast but take lunch and dinner at the Restaurant 'Le Magdalena in the clubhouse, which is open daily from April to November. Like the region, the clubhouse is renowned for its cuisine and most ingredients and an expansive choice of wines are locally produced. A children's menu is available.
Gourmands are totally spoiled for choice! Pro rata, the region has more Michelin starred establishments than anywhere in France and the locality abounds with first rate restaurants, in the nearby villages and towns. For a special occasion, or simply to spoil your best beloved, the Chateau de La Treyne would be the ultimate choice. The resort office staff will be happy to assist with advice and reservations.
The Dordogne Valley region is in the heart of south west France. Toulouse, Limoges and Bergerac airports are all within a 90 minute drive, whilst Carcassonne and Bordeaux airports are three hours distant. The country club and the chateau are about 20 minutes by road from the new Brive airport and the country club is close to the town of Souillac (pop 4,200).
Various budget airlines fly from UK regional hubs into the airports listed above but for those living in or near London the recommended service is via CityJet which flies from London City airport to Brive on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. (Between 17th September and 31st October on Fridays and Sundays only.) Flight time is 90 minutes. From 21 May 2011 the budget airline Jet2 will fly from Manchester to Brive on Tuesdays and Saturdays between 21 May and 24 September.
By Road: The N20 from Paris passes close to Souillac (Exit no 55). The journey takes approximately four hours. Calais can be reached in approximately seven or eight hours via autoroute.
By Rail: From Gare Austerlitz in Paris to Souillac takes approximately four hours or eight hours from Waterloo, changing at Paris. A TGV service runs from Lille to Brive.
About the golf:
The course is relatively new, having opened in 1992, and although the card indicates a maximum length of 4,389 metres (down to 3,523 metres for the ladies) it plays much longer because of the terrain. It is hilly with lots of elevated tees and greens and carries across valleys.
Thus, most shots call for two or three clubs more than the indicated distance usually demands. Some of the longer par fours play as fives, to give an example. The greens are medium-sized at best so you'll need a decent short game here as well as accuracy with the longer irons.
Most fairways are tree-lined and tight. Several very good holes are both scenic and demanding (some par threes are as good as any and the par five 4th is a beauty) but generally it's best described as a fun course, ideal for holiday golf with the family.
Par is 67 but get anywhere close to that and you'll have had a good day. Those of a certain age should take a golf cart. The terrain aside, there are several long walks between a green and the next tee and senior golfers could feel the strain. The clubhouse is a bonus and drinks on the sun-blessed terrace afterwards will complete a happy day. Golf trolleys are also available for those able to walk the course..
The country club's recreational facilities include nine swimming pools (one to each hamlet of lodges and a central pool near the clubhouse), two tennis courts, a children's play ground, playing fields and the 18 hole golf course, which also has a driving range and a practice putting green. Many other activities such as table tennis, volleyball, basket ball, and boules are provided for and there's also a pool table in the bar area of the restaurant.
The club's staff will help organise activities on or off-site, and can arrange excursions to explore the breathtaking French countryside, or for example a visit to a truffle market, or a wine tasting at a local vineyard. Family activities include swimming in the Dordogne river, bike riding, canoe trips, caving, high roping, horse riding....
An example of the sight-seeing opportunities in the region.
It is only a short journey by car to the enchanting town of Sarlat, which dates from Renaissance times and is said to be the most visited town in France. Avoid the crush at the height of the summer and visit in Spring or Autumn when you can enjoy wandering the cobbled streets, pausing for a coffee in the square, Place aux Oies, and posing for the camera by the three bronze geese that were in the film Chocolat, which was filmed here. Admire the buildings, balconies and rooftops, some carefully cut in stone or lauze.
Sarlat is also famed for its connection to the philosopher Montaigne, who in the 16th century wrote his essay on “Friendship,” based on his relationship with his life-long friend Etienne de la Boetie who was born in Sarlat.
Montaigne dismissed the hierarchical relationship between father and son as an example of friendship and saw instead that respect not friendship binds the two together. Only friendship, he says, takes itself as an end.
Communication is the key and what better place to enjoy the companionship of friends than in the Dordogne Valley where there is time to pause and reflect?
When to go:
The periods mid-April to mid-June and September-October are recommended for golf and most resort activities and for sight-seeing and other excursions. The temperature range then should be 22 to 24C. Early Spring will see rain and in July and August, the height of the domestic holiday season when the resort's lodges are usually full anyway, the temperature rises to 30C plus.
Souillac Country Club: a two night break for two people with unlimited golf will cost E398 for board only. A breakfast pack is provided. A week long family golf break with two youngsters under 16 will cost E900 plus E95 service charge. Golf is included but no meals.
Le Chateau de la Treyne: a two night break for two persons in a standard room with half board, plus two green fees and a club cart at Souillac Golf Club will cost E860, which equates to a discount of 10% for PGT readers. This price includes the room, breakfast and dinner from a menu with choice.
Discounted offers are also available for superior and de luxe rooms, suites and apartments where rates for similar two night breaks range from E 1,142 to E 2,142.
Taxis are available but they tend to be expensive and if you plan on sight-seeing a rental car is the best bet. Souillac Country Club has an arrangement with Europcar, which has a base at Brive airport, and can offer reduced rates.
Packing Tips & Dress Code
Informality is the keynote at the resort and smart casual dress is standard. If you are dining at Le Chateau de La Treyne, or indeed opt to stay there, more formal dress would be in order for dinner.
Time Zone: The time zone is GMT + I hour.
Dialing code: From the UK the telephone number is: 33 (0)5 65 27 56 00
Booking/Getting A Quote
PGT can negotiate discounted rates and bonuses for our readers. Simply contact us giving details of numbers, preferred dates and your requirements and we will contact the resort/chateau on your behalf.
Currency: the currency of France is now the Euro. To order Euros from Travelex at the guaranteed best price available in the UK - at 0% commission, and with free airport pick up click here.
Insurance is both important and a sensible investment when travelling overseas (particularly when transporting expensive golf equipment). We recommend American Express .