Expanded Content: Vive Le Golf!

The Aquitaine region of France (left and top right) extends along the Atlantic, along the southwest corner of France. Le Golf National (bottom right) is hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Getting there and around

In the sky: Air France has a convenient schedule of flights to Charles de Gaulle airport, and the carrier taps renowned chefs to create new menus: flights from New York to Paris currently feature Daniel Boulud in first class. The wine list boasts vintages from every region of France, and – something you aren’t apt to hear these days – service is excellent.

Schlepping your clubs to the airport these days should be a thing of the past, no matter how nice or heavily armored your travel bag. ShipSticks (shipsticks.com) will pick up your golf clubs and deliver them to your destination, hassle-free; the company keeps you informed of the progress of your clubs at every critical juncture, and should some hitch arise, will update you as to the resolution.

The 18th hole at Le Golf National

On the ground: Renting a car on your arrival at the airport may not be the smartest option. Navigating the narrow streets of a bustling, unfamiliar French city can be less than delightful -- especially in Paris, where drivers often seem intent on justifying their reputation for being uncompromisingly aggressive. The navigation system in the otherwise excellent Citroën SD5 I rented in Bordeaux seemed to delight in sending me the wrong way on one-way streets and trapping me down dead-end alleyways.

A better idea is to hire a town car. Lafayette Travel (www.lafayette-travel.com) specializes in organizing high-end visits: their drivers are prompt and professional, and cars are spotless and spacious.

Outside the cities, on the other hand, a car can be fun – drivers are sane and courteous, and navigating the roundabout system demands alertness and caution, which turns out to be a boon. (Incidentally, on the highway it’s advisable to use the cash lane at the toll plaza, marked by a green arrow – the machine refused to accept any of my credit cards, forcing me to back out.)

Best option of all might be to travel by train to each city. France’s high-speed trains are among the fastest in Europe – nearly 200 mph – and extremely convenient: it’s a five and a half hour drive from Paris to Bordeaux, but on the high-speed train it’s a mere 3 hours and 15 minutes, which will be shaved to a mere 2 hours this year. For getting around to the sights and restaurants in Bordeaux, mass transit is supremely usable; save the car rental for your excursions to the vineyards and golf courses in the surrounding regions.

The Lingo:

Don’t be shackled to old notions of snooty Parisians who can’t be bothered with foreigners. These days, everyone you encounter in the hospitality world will have some knowledge of English, for the simple reason that they want your business; if you have some more complex need that must be attended to in a shop or on the street, it’s almost certain that someone can be found to translate your wishes.

View of Mont-Saint-Michel Bay

That said, knowing some French is better than knowing none at all. Walk into a shop and you will inevitably hear “Bonjour, Monsieur” or “Madame,” and it is expected you will respond in kind – just the sort of simple old-world courtesy in which this country abounds. Learn a few phrases of greeting, how to count, the days of the week in French, and you will be rewarded; of the many bountiful gifts the French have cultivated, the language is one they hold quite high.

Some pronunciations:

Chantilly: shawn-TEA

Vineuil: van-OY

Giverny: jiv-air-KNEE

Deauville: do-VEAL.

And you don’t need to know many golf words, but “hole” is trou.

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