BiarritzThey all used to come here, from Coco Chanel and Ernst Hemingway to Frank Sinatra and the royals — Biarritz used to be the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic coast. But with time, the glamour faded. Thanks to windsurfing and other water sports, however, the charming city has rejuvenated. It is now the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend break, and there is no need to rush: the city is fairly small and you can easily see everything even on a short visit.
The CityIn medieval times and up to the 17th century, Biarritz was an unassuming fishing and whaling community. Spotters would perch on the Atalye plateau above the village and use smoke signals to tell the villagers when whales were nearby. In the 18th century, Biarritz took its first steps towards becoming a tourist destination when the Comtesse de Montijo spent two lazy family holidays here. During the following century, the town's popularity grew as kings and queens of nations, as well as the stars of the silver screen kept visiting. Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, and Rita Hayworth also came here to explore the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic. Today, the city is primarily a tourist destination, but it still manages to maintain its character and steer clear of tackiness. Biarritz is also a famous spot in the world of surfing. Surfers congregate at several beaches, from Biarritz all the way up to Hossegor. The Grand Plage is a classic beach, while the Miramar Beach–an extension of the Grande Plage–is the most fashionable one among those of the entire Atlantic coast.
Do & See
Biarritz is located in Basque territory, 18km from the Spanish border. The sunny location on the Bay of Biscay makes it perfect for surfing and this culture is deeply rooted in the city’s ambience. Several prestigious surf tournaments have been hosted by Biarritz. Other popular sports practised here are Basque pelota, golf, and rugby.
Two factors: the ocean as well as the proximity to the Basque Country influence the gastronomy of Biarritz. This is a good thing, as Basque cooking has lately been praised as the best in Europe. It can be hard to find simpler, less pricey restaurants in Biarritz, but they do exist.
Biarritz has a vibrant coffee culture and its beautiful surroundings provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing cup of joe. Just take your time to experience the most of it.
Bars & Nightlife
The area around Port Vieux, Biarritz’s old port, is full of bars, as is Place Georges Clemenceau. Just outside the city near the casino, you will find a handful of large discos.
The range of shopping options in Biarritz covers everything from Basque handicrafts to cool surf shorts and expensive designer labels. The surf brand Quiksilver has ties to the area, and their products can be found in many of the shops as well as in their own store by Grand Plage Beach. Other brands, including O’Neill, have shops on the beach and around Place du Port Vieux. The most expensive shopping area is situated along avenue Edouard VII, including Natacha at number 3 and Hermès at number 19, as well as along rue Mazagran and around place Clèmenceau.