CHARMING OCEAN-RESORT AND SURF HOT-SPOT
→ Whoever thinks Biarritz is a place for old ladies with little dogs is wrong…
…because this elegant seaside resort, that is located on the rough Atlantic Ocean, has been a hot-spot for surfing since the 60’s and offers great surfing conditions all year round. We quickly decide, this is the right place to be.
Having felt ill for a while, we check in at the hotel „La Regina“ to relax and recover for a few days. This beautiful and really impressive hotel in belle-époque style, that was built in 1907, takes you back in time and makes it seem that you are set at the beginning of the last century. The hotel is located a bit outside of the city center, elevated behind a stretch of cliffs and near the city’s lighthouse. Every day we enjoy the incredible view over the bay and watch the waves come in. This is the perfect spot to start the day, either for a walk to town or to the nearby beaches. In the early evenings, we enjoy some drinks at the impressive james-bond-like hotel bar and watch exciting European Cup football games.
A walk through Biarritz
We walk along the beach promenade toward the city center – the ocean and waves always in sight. We arrive at the city beach “Grande Plage” where the people of Biarritz and tourists sunbathe, beginners try their luck at the surf schools and locals show their skills in the roaring waves. We enjoy the relaxed atmosphere while catching some sun during a light ocean breeze. We walk through old town of Biarritz past impressive mansions from the turn of the 20th century in typical Basque style architecture with colorful shutters – painted in azure blue, green, dark red. Every now and then we see local surfers walk through the middle of the town dressed in wetsuits and their surfboard under their arms – a big advantage to have a city with a perfect surf beach right in front of your doorstep. Once a fishermen’s village, Biarritz became the summer residence of empress Eugénie in the year 1854 and has since flourished to be a cozy but energetic ocean-resort with its unique French flair.
It is really worth a visit to the local market hall “Les Halles” in the center of the city. Every morning until early afternoon, a number of stands sell typical French and regional Basque food specialties, but also regional ceramics and clothes can be found. Once done with shopping at the market, we sit at one of the many bars, brasseries and restaurants around the market hall to get a typical Basque lunch and local wine, while observing the scene.
We continue to walk along the beach promenade and pass the small fishermen’s harbor with small local seafood restaurants that serve fresh catches of the day and, of course, oysters from the region. We reach the “Rocher de la Vièrge”, a cliff in the middle of the ocean surrounded by water, and enjoy the stunning panoramic view of Biarritz and the French and nearby Spanish coast. We end our tour at the wind protected beach “Plage du Port View” – also know as “Arena” – and simply enjoy the wonderful view over the beach and ocean.
Our tips in Biarritz:
- Oyster-Restaurant „La Cabane á Huitre“ – Best restaurant for fresh oysters
- Café & Brasserie „La Coupole“ – Great fresh oysters, drinks and local meals in the middle of Biarritz
- Healthy Snack Bar „Beach Garden“ – Near the city beach “Grande Plage”. Try the delicious Gazpacho!
- Seafood Restaurant „Chez Albert“ – Great seafood in the old fishermen’s harbor of Biarritz
- Beach Bar „Etxola Bibi“ – On top of an elevation by the beach „Cote des Basques“ with an amazing view over the coast
- Ceviche Bar & Restaurant „Saline Ceviche Bar“ – Very delicious fresh Ceviche in many variations
- Organic Supermarket “L’Eau Vive”
- Surf Shop „Rip Curl Bidart“ – a surf shop that has everything you need and carries a nice selection of pro boards
- A real insider tip is to watch the sunsets on the cliffs right behind the lighthouse at the north end of Biarritz. Although the path to get there is closed off, the locals just climb over the barriers and so do we…enjoying a “bottle” of local red wine with an incredible sunset in front of us
- Find our favorite beaches at the bottom of the page…
After a short surf session at the Grande Page, we have a healthy snack at the nearby snack bar “Beach Garden”. They offer fresh salads, sandwiches, bagels and a very delicious Gazpacho. This place is a great alternative if you have missed lunch, as most places don’t really serve good food (apart from French fries) after 14:30 or before 19:00 in the evenings.
Back to good health and full of energy, we take our VW California to spend a few day on the 5-Star campsite “Le Pavillion Royal” between Biarritz and the town Bidart. We are lucky to get one of the best spots on the site with an amazing view over the coastal landscape and ocean. The campsite is very well maintained, clean and has direct access to a very long beach stretch that is also a top spot for surfing. We spend some days to discover the nearby surf beaches and visit the beautiful little town “Saint-Jean-de-Luz”, where we have some incredible typical Basque seafood food for dinner. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time to visit the world heritage city San Sebastian in nearby Spain, as we need to move on and head north toward the city Nantes.
On our way north, we stop at the famous and the largest European sand dune “Dune du Pilat”, which measures 118 meters in height and is 2.7km long. We underestimate the hike up the dune, but get rewarded by the stunning panoramic view over the ocean and the bay of Arcachon. We watch the sailboats cruising along the horizon and the many paragliders that pass through the air only meters away from us – the dunes offer perfect thermic conditions and people from all over Europe come to enjoy hang-time at this awesome place.