Biarritz, a charming beach resort in the south west of France
Biarritz, a town with ocean and sea air, used to be a very popular holiday destination with nobility. Today this lively beach resort between the sea and the mountains is the European capital of surfing. It is a paradise for surfers and gourmets, and the jet set is attracted by the vast beaches, the thalasso therapy centres, the trendy bars, the golf courses, but also the art galleries and the boutiques.
Biarritz, situated in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, is set by the Atlantic Ocean. The town is built on a range of hills along the coast, in the south west of France and at only 25 km from the Spanish border. Biarritz, between the sea and the mountains, stands for prestige, elegance and the good life. It is crossed by the canal Atxinetxe and is shaped like an amphitheater, making the beach resort so attractive.
Biarritz is one of the best known and most prestigious beach resorts of the French Atlantic Coast. It is also an ideal starting point to visit the Basque Country. For a relaxing weekend, you can visit the various cultural sites of the town.
To discover in Biarritz
Biarritz offers a wide range of various landscapes. From the Pointe Saint-Martin to the Grande-Plage, the coast offers a countless number of spots to discover. The town of Biarritz also offers various historical heritage worth a visit, and not to forget the four museums and the religious buildings. A few sites that are definitely worth a visit: the Pointe de Biarritz and the lighthouse Phare de Biarritz, dominating the Pointe de Saint Martin. This lighthouse, built in 1834, offers an exceptional view from its 248 stairs, on the Basque coast, the ocean and the mountains. The 44 metres high lighthouse of Biarritz was built on the former Cap Hainsart.
All year round, culture has a special place in the life of Biarritz. During your stay, you can discover various events and festivals.
Also discover the natural heritage of Biarritz, offering six beaches, 120 ha of woods and two lakes that are protected by the Conservatoire du littoral. The lake of Mouriscot, one of the two lakes of Biarritz , is listed as a Natura 2000 site. You’ll find various bird and fish species here, but also a flora of high organic interest, thanks to the various natural environments. Go for a stroll in the public garden, facing the gare du Midi, that is now a cultural centre, or in the parc Mazon and the jardin Lahouze. In 2012, Biarritz obtained three flowers during a competition for flowery towns and villages.
Around the town, you can discover various hills and traditional villages, but most of all the local gastronomy. For shopping, you can discover the boutiques of the centre. You can also visit the fisherman’s harbour and the rocher de la Vierge, one of the symbols of Biarritz. With clear weather, this is a lovely viewpoint. This site is also fascinating during night time and storms. The hollowedded out passage in the rock is the work of Napoleon III and the Virgin on the top is a tribute to the wale sailors that came back safe and sound after a storm.
To visit in Biarritz
Biarritz offers many places to visit, starting with the het hôtel du palais, rebuilt on the place of the villa owned by Empress Eugénie. The local Casino, set by the beach, is also worth a visit. This art-deco style building is an excellent example of the architectural heritage of the town. Over the years, the casino, built in 1929 and renovated in 1994, has even become the symbol of the town’s architecture. Since 1992, it has been listed as a historical monument. The imperial chapel is also part of the religious monuments of Biarritz. This chapel was built in 1864 on request of Empress Eugénie de Montijo. The imperial chapel, dedicated to the black Mexican Virgin Notre Dame de Guadalupe has been on the list of historical monuments since 1981.
You can also visit the musée de la mer. This splendid art-deco monument was opened in 1935and counts more than 150 fish species and cetaceans from the Bay of Gascogne, various collections of birds and wales, a cave with sharks and a seal basin.
The Cité de l’océan et du surf was designed by the New York architect Steven Holl. The building slides like a wave towards the Atlantic Ocean. In a beautiful setting near the bay and by the beach of Ilbarritz, this centre has the mission to offer more information about the ocean and to protect it.
After a visit to the Cité de l’océan you can go to the musée historique de Biarritz. Along the various collections and paintings of this museum, housed in a formed Anglican church, you can relive the history of Biarritz. The museum tells the town’s history that used to be a fisherman’s harbour from the 11th to the 13th century.
The museum Planète musée du chocolat will learn you all about chocolate! From the Mayas to our days, but also the history of the Basque country. Here you’ll find an exceptional collection and an exhibition of chocolate sculptures. Culture and gastronomy are brought together during a tasting.
Do not forget to visit the musée Asiatica that is part of the five most important European museums of Eastern art. Make use of this visit to discover unique artworks from India, China or Tibet and extend your knowledge by reading the information signs.
Anglet and Bayonne are located near Biarritz.