Interrail

John Dean has been one of the driving forces behind the very popular GolfPunk Magazine. Now he’s taking a break to do what he likes best: traveling and playing golf . John goes on an Interrail trip through 9 European countries, playing golf in every country he visits. This is his story!

John Dean
Words by John Dean

It’s Day Two of my golfing odyssey around Europe by InterRail, and I am heading from the port city of Marseilles to Cannes to tee it up at Royal Mougins.

It’s a just two hour train journey, but a fantastic one as the railway follows the coastline of the fabulous Cote D’Azur; it’s blue sky and blue sea central.

Royal Mougins is a thirty-minute taxi ride from the train station (10.9 kilometres), and the cab driver does mention Brexit, but I pretend that my French is poor, as I don’t want to spend my month on the rails covering this one – life is far too short, and there’s golf to be played.

This is not my first time playing golf in Cannes, as I have had the enormous good fortune to tee it up at Robert Jones jr.’s Golf and Country Club de Saint-Donat, Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s Domaine de Barbossi, and the Old Course Cannes Mandelieu, which has a unique ferry crossing across the River Siagne from the third tee to the fourth. It’s also the home course to Victor Dubison, so you’ll be in good company.

Golf de Saint Donat in the French Cote D’Azur
Golf de Saint Donat in the French Cote D’Azur

Cannes: Golfing Central

In all there are over 19 courses around Cannes according to Leadingcourses.com. And if you are prepared to go a little further there is an amazing Pete Dye course at Barbaroux, which is one of the most beguiling courses I have ever played.

It’s probably ten year’s since I played it, but I can still remember every single hole, which is something I can say of few or any golf courses. If you ever get the chance, just grab it, but be prepared for the odd bit of damage as the local wild boars do like to a do a bit of truffle hunting on the fairways.

It is the only Pete Dye course in France, and only one of three in the whole of continental Europe , so it’s well worth a detour if you are anywhere near. The other courses are Golf Club du Domaine Impérial in Switzerland, and Franciacorta Golf Club in Italy.

Golf de Barbaroux is the only Pete Dye design in France.

From Cannes, it’s an hour and fifteen minutes’ drive, so you will need a car, and it does go against my train only policy, but there are exceptions to be made, and this is one of them.

There’s also a stunning Gary Player course at Le Château de Taulane, high in the Alps Martine, but which is still only sixty kilometres from the centre of Cannes. Teeing it up in the early morning dew, in the foothills of the Alps, is an experience I would highly recommend.

And whilst I am on the recommendation front, Cannes is right up there if you want to play golf with the sun on your back in the South of France.

You can get there by plane if you need to, with regular flights into Nice. I’m not going to be an eco-golf- terrorist, or feel holier than thou by travelling by train, but the train is a real option and one that you shouldn’t ignore.

The Challenge of Royal Mougins

But back to the matter in hand and I am here to tee it up at Royal Mougins, which has been a long-standing ambition of mine and the course does not disappoint, but it does challenge, and that is no understatement.

The course is the work of American Robert Von Hagge, who also designed last year’s Ryder Cup course in Paris, Le Golf National. Opened back in 1993, it is fully matured and a slice of Provencal heaven or hell, depending on which game you bring with you.

The course starts off with a relatively benign short par-4 on the edge of the hillside, but then gets properly serious with a dramatic 168-yard par-3 which will break your mind.

Playing from a very elevated tee, you have to shoot down into a ravine onto a small green, which is of course defended by a water hazard in front. Absolutely no chance…whatsoever. It may be called Angel’s Dive, but it is far more devilish than this name would suggest.

The daunting par-3 second hole at Royal Mougins.
The daunting par-3 second hole at Royal Mougins is called Angel’s Dive.

The course offers many different elevation changes as it snakes its way through a wooded vale spread across 75 hectares and will beat you up in a heartbeat, as it is a really tough track. There are a variety of tee boxes, so choose carefully to maximise your game enjoyment.

The routing can also be quite confusing, and you have to cross and re-cross a couple of roads, so you’ll need to keep your wits about.

Post round relaxation at Royal Mougins:

Royal Mougins is very much a luxury resort, but golf is its heartbeat and is truly central to the whole experience. But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a luxury spa. Of course, there is, and it is a welcome retreat if you have been dismantled by the course, which I have to confess I was.


The course and the post-golf experience is right up there, and the resort is multi-award winning, being voted amongst other awards as “France’s Best Golf Resort” in the World Golf Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Dining is alfresco from a large terrace, which enjoys commanding views over the course, and is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of Provencal Rosé, or something stronger if required.

Add Royal Mougins to The List for sure, but be sure to bring your A-Game. Resort Golf as I know it, this is not.

Read Part 4: Argentario

Read Part 1: preparations

Read: Part 2: Moving Day

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