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France’s ritzy Atlantic resort of Biarritz is famous for many things, among them its love affair with Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie. On a visit to Biarritz in the 1850's she fell in love with the city and built a palace on the beach - now the swish Hôtel du Palais - and stayed here frequently. Among her regular guests were Queen Victoria and Edward VII.

Royalty aside, Biarritz is famous for its beautiful rocky coastline, spa therapies, buzzing surf scene and of course its heady fusion of cultures. Its old quarter is simply stunning!

A combination of French, Basque and Spanish lifestyles has created a vibrant hotbed of culture, evident in its mix of cuisine, architecture and local customs. It’s typically associated with wealth, partly due to its noble ties. Over the years the city went from operating prosperous whaling and sea-based industries, to harbouring a growing tourism trade that gathered in popularity from the 18th century onwards.

Biarritz France holidays sunset at a beach

Today, this beautiful Basque city thrives on tourism. Known as the surfing capital of France, Biarritz attracts a cosmopolitan crowd of beach bums, backpackers and clubbers - along with the archetypal elite. The beaches are pristine and cater for various tastes, while the city’s spa scene continues to attract punters keen to put its Thalasso Therapy secrets to the test.

With rocky beaches, glamorous hotels and a fascinating fusion of cultures, you could easily find yourself blurring the line between French and Spanish life; especially after a glass or two of the locally produced Black Bordeaux. Or is it Rioja?

Biarritz Travel Tip: A Cult Surfing Spot

Biarritz has developed something of a cult following in the surf world, and it’s not hard to see why. Huge Atlantic swells and powerful tube waves are commonplace, making this a surfer’s paradise - especially as several parts of Biarritz’s 6 km coastline is reserved especially for surfing. The sport first emerged here in the 1950's and left a lasting impression. Today, numerous yearly competitions take place such as the Quiksilver/Roxy Jam tournament, which adds to the buzz and bustle of this chic coastal city.

Biarritz France travel beaches Miramar and La Grande Plage

Whether you’re a tube-riding pro or the grommet of the surf world, everyone is welcome. Anglet is where you’ll find the main surfing beaches, just beyond Pointe St Martin. And for those who don’t know their white-water from a wipeout, there are a number of surfing schools in the area to help you sharpen your skills.

Biarritz Things To Do

1. Treat yourself

In France, Biarritz has long been held as a leading centre of thalassotherapy - also known as seawater treatment. It’s one thing in particular that this coastal city has in abundance, and health experts say November is the perfect time to indulge. Get massaged and soaked spa-style with a range of natural sea water and seaweed treatments, or just relax in warm sea water pools. Several of the top hotels offer spa therapies, or try the likes of Thermes Marins on Rue de Madrid for a more affordable option.

2. Become a beach bum

Of course, no trip to Biarritz is complete without lazing on the beach. La Grande Plage is the main beach and boasts a long stretch of sand with the Point St Martin lighthouse at the end, standing tall in a treacherous rocky outcrop. At the other end is the Rocher de la Vierge and the statue of the Virgin, a symbol of Biarritz, and a network of walkways. If La Grande Plage is crowded, try the beaches at Port Vieux and Milady for a typically quieter ambience.

Biarritz holidays church and harbour

3. Catch a game

Like many cities in the South West, Biarritz is big on rugby. Really big. So if you have a spare Saturday afternoon and if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a ticket, head to the home ground of Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque at Parc des Sports Aguiléra, and soak up a distinctly red-themed experience.

4. Shop ‘til you drop

Biarritz has a buzzing centre and is home to a seemingly endless array of independent shops and retailers. From fromageries to patisseries, fashion boutiques to chocolateries, the winding streets of central and outer Biarritz are chock-full of wonderful stores to tempt you away from your Euros.

Biarritz Markets

Daily

Biarritz Top Restaurants

Our selection of restaurants in Biarritz:

Chez Albert
au Port-des-Pêcheurs, 64200 Biarritz
Tel: 00 33 5 59 24 43 84

A highly regarded seafood restaurant in the old fishing port of Port-des-Pêcheurs. Enjoy a vast array of locally-caught seafood such as grilled lobster, paella and shellfish. The menus range between €40 - €65.

Villa Eugenie
1 av. de l'Impératrice, 64200 Biarritz
Tel: 05 59 41 64 00

Enjoy exquisite cuisine in Empress Eugénie’s very own restaurant, located in the famous Hotel du Palais. The Michelin-starred Villa Eugenie is elegant and graceful, serving up a decadent dining experience that’s focused on local seafood and regional produce. Among the typical specialties are sea bass with a Domaine Brana white wine cream, and baby cuttlefish in an Espelette pepper and squid ink sauce. The menu typically ranges from €100 - €130.

L'Instant
4 r. du Port-Vieux, 64200 Biarritz
Tel: 05 59 24 84 65

A contemporary bistro offering fresh, seasonal cuisine with locally produced ingredients that changes on a regular basis. Lunch is typically €15, while evening meals range from €40 - €60.

Biarritz Driving Distances

Driving distances from Biarritz to nearby cities

Bayonne: 8km / 5 miles

San Sebastian (Spain): 50km / 31 miles

Pau: 125km / 77 miles

Bordeaux: 200km / 125 miles

Tourist Office

Square d'Ixelles, 64200 Biarritz
Tel: 05 59 22 37 10

www.biarritz.fr

Biarritz Property Scene

Biarritz’s Royal heritage has left its mark, and the cost of living here is considered quite expensive - akin to the South Coast of France. Many buildings throughout Biarritz are grand and impressive, designed to give off an air of wealth. On the outskirts, newer developments are generally more accessible, but out here you’ll still find plenty of high-end properties. Being on the coast, the city holds its value well and tourists will always want to holiday here. Prices may be high, but the general consensus is that Biarritz is a sound investment with excellent rental income potential.

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Jackie De Burca

Jackie De Burca is is a travel, arts and culture writer. The author of Salvador Dalí at Home, De Burca has spent much of her life in Spain since 2003. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, she is the creator of Travel Inspires: the authentic travel magazine by the people, for the people. She mentors aspiring writers around the world, who have the opportunity to showcase their work on Travel Inspires. De Burca feels an inspirational connection with the land in Spain, while maintaining her deeply rooted attachment to Irish landscapes, soil and of course, the Irish character.

6 comments

  • Alexandra Wrigley

    April 23, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Biarritz looks such a beautiful coastal place. I’ve not visited France yet! I want to however I want to kinda go to less of the popular places other than Paris. Biarritz looks like the perfect weekend break. When is the best time of year to visit?

    Reply

    • Jackie De Burca

      April 24, 2019 at 7:36 am

      Hi Alexandra,

      Yes Biarritz is another great choice in France. 🙂 Personally I would go in the first half of September, while the weather should still be warm without being too hot. Also in September there is a dance festival. However in July there is a big music festival …if you can manage the heat!!! 🙂 Be sure to let us know how your trip to Biarritz goes.

      Reply

  • Holly Pirate

    May 7, 2019 at 1:15 am

    Surfing is popular all down the coast from closer up here in Bordeaux in Lacanau all the way to the Spanish border. This whole stretch can really get some good sets of waves and various surfing competitions are held throughout the summer.

    Reply

    • Jackie De Burca

      May 9, 2019 at 10:12 am

      Thanks Holly, that is true and good to highlight. 🙂

      Reply

  • STEPHANIE

    May 19, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Hi,

    My husband and I are visiting Paris and Bordeaux this July, and would love to make a stop in Biarritz. We are big beach bums. Is the water safe to swim in or are the waves too rough? How many days would be best for a visit? What makes Biarritz different than Nice?

    Reply

    • Jackie De Burca

      May 20, 2019 at 10:19 am

      Hi Steph, for sure you are really looking forward to the trip! 🙂 It will be very warm at that time of year, but as you said you’re beach bums that should be a good thing.

      In terms of safe swimming, Biarrtiz is not a good place to go. You should still visit but stay a day or so only and then head down south to another French Basque seaside town, St. Jean de Luz, around 17 km. There are trains.

      How are Biarritz and Nice different? They just are 🙂 Different feelings, different assets and not to mention that one is Basque and the other isn’t. Both are very much worth visiting however.

      Reply

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Biarritz France Travel Guide

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