Les Bordes Golf Club in the French Loire Valley seems like a fairy tale come to life. Behind gates and within the midst of the Sologne Forest, this private club has members from around the world including many from the United States.
On the heels of opening the “New Course,” a golf course by celebrated, American architect Gil Hanse, Les Bordes is embarking on a new chapter as it expands its amenity offering for members and guests.
The French Loire Valley is world-renowned for its famous chateaux and picturesque villages, but that also makes it the ideal setting for beautiful golf courses like Les Bordes, which stretches for 1,400 acres. Many visitors to the region make day trips from Paris, but the reverse is true for those staying at Les Bordes and wanting to take a 90-minute train ride into town for shopping or sightseeing.
While the golf club is only open to private members and their guests, a new residential community and luxury resort and spa are in the works and are open to everyone. Existing members can also refer new members to join the club, and when Six Senses opens, it will offer a couple of hours of tee times to its guests to play Wild Piglet. Here are five of the top reasons to make the journey to Les Bordes.
It goes without saying that Les Bordes’ courses are exceptional.
In July, the Gil Hanse-designed New Course at Les Bordes was unveiled creating a total of 46 impressive holes for its membership. During construction, Hanse lived on the property to oversee the course’s construction, and he returned for the inaugural festivities. He had the honor to hit the inaugural tee shot on what is his first, full golf course design in continental Europe.
Frequent golfers may already be familiar with Hanse as he is well-known in the sport for dozens of courses including Pine Hollow Country Club in New York and The Cradle at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.
Les Bordes now has three course options for members including the par-3, 10-hole short course designed by Hanse, known as Wild Piglet, plus its Old Course, often ranked as a top course on the continent. Wild Piglet was named by golf.com to its top-25 par-3 courses in the world.
Hanse’s latest addition at Les Bordes features a slightly different style from the Old Course, which actually takes players through the forest. The New Course has a traditional heathland style with rolling, open-plan fairways blending into the trees and vegetation. Large bunkers and subtle elevation changes add to the playing experience.
It comes as no surprise that the region is home to more than a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants, but the dining at Les Bordes is equally impressive. All meals are served at the Clubhouse although a new Six Senses luxury hotel and spa will have its own dining options when it opens in 2024.
Members and their guests enjoy three meals a day on the terrace overlooking the putting green or inside the Clubhouse. Breakfast includes a menu of tasty options including eggs prepared to order, freshly squeezed juice, sweet options like crepes and of course, croissants and pains au chocolat. It is the perfect way to start your day before hitting a round of golf or getting out to explore the area.
Lunch includes a menu of international choices including French dishes like croque monsieur sandwiches or traditional options like burgers and salads. There is always an alternating daily special, and the crusty baguettes pair perfectly with the property’s impressive cheese and charcuterie boards.
Dinner is a set menu consisting of a starter, main dish and dessert, but dietary requests are easily cared for with advance notice.
The Clubhouse is fresh from a Michaelis Boyd-redesign, which is the same company that designed Soho House in Los Angeles. The chic-meets-rustic look mixes plenty of contemporary design elements with what you might expect in a French country house. The roaring fireplace draws guests around it for cocktails, and there is a separate boardroom ideal for small social functions or meetings as needed.
Remote workers will find this to be the perfect retreat, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, the property hosted many of its members for months at a time since it was the ideal place to isolate.
While Les Bordes is a golf property, there is no shortage of other activities to keep non-players busy. That is what makes it so special (obviously besides the quality of the courses and beautiful surroundings). Day trips to nearby vineyards for wine tasting, sunset cruises along the Loire River and visits to famous castles like Chambord or Blois are just a few of the options.
For the more adventurous guest that wants to enjoy the estate itself, recreational activities abound. Instead of traditional swimming pools, designers created natural swimming lakes with a sandy beach in the heart of the countryside.
There is also the option to go fishing, horseback riding, play tennis, or explore the numerous biking and walking trails. Hunting is another popular activity in the area, and it is common to see deer and wild boar meandering through the forest at times.
Children can visit the petting farm, ride ponies, ride on go-karts or try their hand at a miniature zip line. There’s also a putting green, driving range and pro shop.
The new residences
If it’s always been your dream to own a home in Europe, Les Bordes has the perfect investment opportunity. Plans are in the works to construct and sell 3-7 bedroom homes with infinity-edge pools, bespoke interiors (or the option to choose from a pre-designed package), outdoor firepits, and peace and quiet in the French countryside. They are open to both club members as well as individual investors, and the U.S. market has demonstrated tremendous interest in owning a home on the Les Bordes property.
Being only a 90-minute train ride from Paris certainly helps.
Well-heeled Parisians are also investing in homes at Les Bordes since it is an easy get away from the hustle and bustle. Construction is expected to begin in the coming months.
While the invitation-only golf club is not open to homeowners or hotel guests, many of the onsite recreational amenities will be when the new residences and Six Senses open. The hotel, especially, will bring Les Bordes onto an international stage for visitors.
Six Senses, which is well-known for its luxurious spas and wellness programs, will feature high-end accommodations as well as the transformation of a stunning 19th century chateau that sits within the grounds of Les Bordes. There, guests will find a dining room, the spa and public areas plus a handful of premium guest rooms.
Coming soon to Les Bordes are a village square-style neighborhood with shops and restaurants. Many of the food ingredients will come from an onsite organic kitchen garden while spa treatment ingredients will be grown in their own dedicated medicinal garden.
The Loire Valley is a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site, but it is worth more than just a day trip from Paris. Les Bordes provides the perfect base for those looking for new home ownership, a luxurious spa vacation, and for the most-connected among us in the golf world, the chance to play several globally recognized courses.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.