Bienvenue to Biarritz! This stylish and ever so slightly glitzy seaside town is in a beautiful spot on the Basque coast in the south west of France. Popularity of this bustling resort has grown with holiday makers since European royalty began visiting in the mid 19th Century, most notably Napoleon III and his Spanish born wife, Eugenie. Situated close to the Spanish border, you will have scorching summers and a mild climate for the remainder of the year, allowing you to explore its sensational coastline. Biarritz is considered a holiday maker’s playground as people travel from all over to play golf, rugby, basque pelota and the main attraction that this coast offers, the surfing.
Now you can fly direct to Biarritz from Southampton with Flybe, in only 1 1/2 hours. When you land, you can get straight into the holiday mood as the airport is only a couple of miles away from the town centre. Chronoplus operate the bus services which run from the terminal to the town which will only cost you €1 and take 20 minutes. Alternatively, there are taxis available which will take you to exactly where you need to be.
Top things to see and do
Previously the mansion of Napoleon III and Princess Eugenie, this exquisite piece of architecture is now a luxury hotel. Previous guests include Franck Sinatra, Queen Victoria and Ernest Hemingway. The grandest address of the town dominates the northern end of the Grand Plage, overlooking all of Biarritz’s main beaches. It’s not just the architecture that people flock to see, but it offers fantastic sports facilities too which enthusiasts are keen to use.
It’s not just the views that are breath taking here as you have climb 248 steps to get to the top! However, it is well worth it when you get there. This iconic lighthouse, Phare de Biarritz, was built in 1834 and stands 73 metres above sea level, giving you glorious, panoramic views of Biarritz and the Basque coast.
For those of you who prefer life beneath the waves, rather than riding them, this superb aquarium Musee de la Mer is the perfect outing for you and the family. Nearly 50 tanks with hundreds of different species from the Bay of Biscay and beyond are housed in this magnificent art deco building. Make sure you catch the seals at feeding time, and, top tip, go late in the evening and have the whole place practically to yourself!
Off the beaten track
Your trip to Biarritz really wouldn’t be complete without at least attempting to ride the waves. This is THE place to surf and there are many schools or day courses that you can try. However, if you’re more of a spectator, you can sit on the beach and marvel as the experts show you how it’s done.
Thalassotherapy is big business in the south of France. ‘Sea healing’ has been used since the 18th Century to treat various ailments and involves being squirted with high pressure hoses, pummelled and massaged and smeared in mud and seaweed. It’s actually a lot more relaxing than it sounds!
Biarritz has plenty to offer gastronomically, and you will be spoilt for choice. However, down by the old port, you will find a small hidden village of wooden fishing cottages. There amongst them you will find this little gem of a seafood restaurant. Your fresh seafood can be washed down with the local wine and cider while enjoying banter from the owners and the locals.