Yvonnick de La Chesnais, a visionary man… As early as 1977, this cattle breeder devoted a few hectares of his land to diversify his activities. The golf course designed by Antoine d’Ormesson is nestled around the castle, between the forest and the ponds. Between all the activities offered on the estate, the whole family should be seduced.
By Claude Granveaud-Vallat
In the Houitte de La Chesnais family since 1860, this former episcopal estate has had several lives. At the end of the 1970s, Yvonnick de La Chesnais, who raised cattle, dared to question himself while French agriculture was already showing signs of weakness in the face of the sprawling CAP orchestrated from Brussels. In 1977, a campsite on the farm was created, immediately attracting the British who were used to North Brittany. Then a hotel, swimming pools and a riding school were built before, in 1988, his friend Antoine d’Ormesson suggested that he design a golf course between the oak forest and the fish-filled ponds linked by the Pont Melin stream, a tributary of the Biez Jean which ends its course below Cancale. The course would naturally find its place between the beautiful forest paths.
The one in the axis of the green of the 10th is majestic, overlooking the castle. It is easy to imagine a pack of hounds following the path of a stag in this age-old setting. On this flat terrain of about sixty hectares, the difficulties of the layout come above all from the vegetation where many of the tees appear narrow between the trees. And even if they are clean, the undergrowth arrives quickly if the sight is not well adjusted… The small greens do better than defend themselves on holes answering to names linked to the history of the domain and its castle facing the green of the 18th reached after negotiating a last dogleg right rather tight. “Le retour des Évêques” on the 3rd, “l’allée royale” with its view of the castle from the 10th, “la roche aux fées” on the 13th, “le malheur de Sophie” on the 15th, “la vigne du Seigneur” to finish… Names that eloquently portray the history of this Breton family linked to the land.
Arnaud de La Chesnais and his sisters Séverine and Sonia – the sixth generation – are now at the helm of the resort, but their father Yvonnick – the forerunner, now in his nineties – and their mother Catherine have kept a watchful eye on the development of the estate. With the arrival of the second generation, the expansion continued with the creation of a rather sporty tree climbing park and the construction of a few tree houses, just to play Robinson after the game. More recently, new huts have been built on the waterfront, as well as wooden cottages, climbing walls, an adventure course, new swimming pools and an aqua park under the Dome, which will be inaugurated in 2019. In the forest, more than thirty cabins dominate the greens and fairways from their terraces, at a height that gives a different view of a course that has been improving for several years.
Some holes have been lengthened, the game has been made more fluid, the sand in the bunkers has become homogeneous, and the quality of the greens goes far beyond the confines of Ille-et-Vilaine. With this plethora of compliments validated by more than 400 members, the club is doing well. Among the regulars, the third generation is already trying out the practice range, with the same enthusiasm as their elders. A loyalty to be celebrated in the evening on the terrace of the Club-House, at the bar of the Moulin or at Madeleine’s, the tables of the domain set up for all tastes and all budgets.
And for those who still want more, the sea is only half an hour away between Cancale and the Mont Saint-Michel bay. More to the west, near the ramparts of Saint-Malo, the Belle Époque villas of Dinard and along the Emerald Coast, there is still that lively, iodised air that makes you want to sit down to a plate of seafood until you bite into the shells!
Domaine des Ormes
Tel: 02 99 73 54 44
18T, par 72, 5892 m.
Architect: Antoine d’Ormesson (1988)