Biarritz. A seaside resort city on the Atlantic coast of France

Biarritz

Biarritz is a fashionable resort, a favorite of emperors and celebrities, “the royal beach and the king of all beaches.” In the Middle Ages, Biarritz was a small fishing port where the brave whalers lived. Legend has it that Biarritz got its name from the merger of two names – the beautiful Miarritz, a young resident of the village, and her lover, a fisherman from Gascony, whom the girl saved during the shipwreck. What was the name of the rescued Gascon, however, the legend is silent.

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Highlights

Today Biarritz is a city full of bright colors and cultural life (all kinds of festivals, plays and concerts, numerous museums and exhibitions) with an eventful sports life (surfing championships, golf competitions, tennis courts and various sports centers).

But first of all Biarritz is a prestigious thalassotherapy centers with a full range of preventive and special medical programs. The quality of the treatments, the modern equipment, the professionalism and the constant care of the experts in the most famous thalassotherapy centers, together with the beauty of the beaches fringed by the ocean and the invigorating power of the sea climate, make Biarritz irresistible!

Biarritz is one of the most beautiful cities on the Atlantic coast. The mildness of the Atlantic climate attracted people from all over the world. Biarritz became famous thanks to the wedding of Louis XVI with Spanish princess Maria Theresa which took place here in the second half of the XVIII century. The heart of Biarritz is the seaside boulevard Promenade (Promenades), where the steep cliffs drop straight into the ocean. Of interest to tourists is the Sea Museum (Musee de la Mer) with numerous aquariums. In the city there is a museum of miniature cars. Everywhere palaces, balneotherapy clinics and golf courses.

Eugenie Montijo, wife of Emperor Napoleon III made Biarritz a fashionable resort. In 1854 the “Villa Eugenie” was built there for her. Now the Hotel du Palais stands on that spot. By tradition since the middle of the XIX century all the high society gathers there in summer.

Movie stars, famous artists and painters, high society from around the world come here. It was at this time, following their taste for rough life, was born Biarritz, which we now know as a fashionable resort, which has preserved its identity, welcoming its guests, and always open to those who love life. When Victor Hugo arrived in Biarritz in 1843, he was fascinated by the white village with its bright red roofs and he predicted a great future for it.

Members of the Russian royal family were frequent visitors to Biarritz. Empress Maria Feodorovna and the morganatic widow of Alexander II, Princess Yurievskaya, came here. Russian merchants Morozov and Ryabushinsky rested here. Very much loved Biarritz and the Russian intelligentsia. Nabokov spoke enthusiastically about this city. Chekhov wrote with amazing warmth in his letters.

Autumn and winter in Biarritz are often called the “Russian season” because of the large number of Russians who come here during this time. A testament to the great love of the Russians for Biarritz was built at the end of the last century at the expense of the Russians Church of the Protection of the Virgin Mary and St. Alexander Nevsky, which is still the decoration and pride of the city.

Those who can climb the lighthouse, overcoming 248 steps, will see the world at their feet. The variety of boutiques, restaurants, tea rooms, bars mixed with quaint villas and small palaces makes Biarritz unique.

Biarritz also has a large thalassotherapy institute located 3 km from the airport/train station. It offers various procedures based on sea water and mud treatment. These are general health courses and cosmetic services.

Climate

Winter has the highest temperatures in France.

  • March – April: +12 ° to +15 °,
  • May: +11 ° to +18 °,
  • June and October: +17 ° to +20 °,
  • July to September: +16° to +23°,
  • November: +11° to 15°,
  • December – January: +5° to +12° C.

Attractions

Among the architectural sights worth mentioning is the church of Saint Eugene (Eglise Sainte Eugenie). It was built in the Byzantine style in 1864 by order of Empress Eugenie. The Imperial Chapel and the Church of Saint Martin, built in the XII century and restored in the XVI century, attract tourists. The luxurious Hôtel du Palais was also built by order of the empress in 1854. The Imperial Chapel was also built by Empress Eugenie in 1864. The Orthodox cathedral attracts visitors with its blue dome. The city casino was opened on August 10, 1901. There is also a museum of Asian art, the Sea Museum and the Chocolate Museum. Among the attractions can be attributed and indoor city market.

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Beaches of Biarritz

Biarritz has a long, sandy beach stretching from the two rocky promontories of St Martin and Atalay to the famous northern beach of Chambres d’Amours (Rooms of Love). Biarritz – a real Mecca for lovers of active recreation, the most popular here are considered golf and windsurfing. Every year there are international competitions in windsurfing, which attracts professionals and amateurs from all over the world, and local schools of the sport are considered the best in Europe.

The Atlantic coast of France is famous for its wide sandy beaches. However, the tide is high and the tide is out: In some areas the sea can withdraw a kilometer from the shore.

Sports attractions

In addition to the wide sandy beaches, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.

Surfing, the king of water sports has become a symbol of Biarritz and the region. However, it appeared here almost by accident – in 1956, when it was not yet known in Europe, only in Hawaii and California. The history of surfing began with Peter Wirtel, an American film producer who came to V Biarritz with his wife, the famous actress Deborah Kerr, to shoot the film “The Sun Also Rises”. It was then that the locals saw the surfer for the first time. In 1959 in Biarritz appeared the first surf club “Waikiki Surf Club”, in 1964 was created by the French Surf Federation with headquarters in Biarritz, in the 80s, surfing became a mass hobby, and in 1987 the first professional competition among the 10 best surfers in the world was held here.

The local schools are some of the best in the world. If you are a beginner and want to learn the sport, come here. International competitions are held every year in the coastal waters of the city.

You’ll be happy to join the aristocratic sporting activities – horseback riding, golf, tennis.

Rugby is as much a part of the tradition as surfing or Basque pelota (a mixture of squash and baseball: the pitcher, using a special racquet mitt, shoots a ball into the wall, and the opponent tries to catch the ball bouncing off the wall with the same mitt). Biarritz, like the southwest of France, loves rugby.

Golf

The history of French and European golf began here. The Biarritz Golf Club opened in 1888. For two centuries this region has become a true Mecca for golfers in Europe. At a distance of 5 to 50 kilometers, was built about a dozen excellent clubs, varying in beauty, length and complexity. Golf in the vicinity of Biarritz is not so much a sport as a poetry – a superb mild climate, spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Biarritz’s high relevance in the golf world is also due to the most famous European Golf Training Center. Its doors are open to all, regardless of age. Hotel Du Palais has a deep respect for the sport. A small course is located right on the territory of the hotel. Every year the hotel becomes a residence of the best golfers of the world during international tournaments and meetings.

Du Palais has prepared special offers for professionals as well as for beginners.

Golf clubs

Golf de Biarritz Le Phare (open all year round)

Golf de Biarritz, founded in 1888, is one of the oldest in Europe. It is 500 meters from the Hotel Du Palais and the city center on the picturesque coastal strip with a beautiful ocean view. Thanks to this location, on hot summer days a light ocean breeze allows even the hottest players to enjoy their time at the clubhouse. The total length of the fields is 5,379 meters and the area is 30 hectares. The 18-hole course (6 to 3 pars) has different courses (some are complicated by lowlands, water obstacles and bunkers). A total of 69 pars. On-site facilities: driving range, putting green, golf equipment rental, restaurant, boutique.

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Chiberta (3 km from Hotel Du Palais)

Golf de Angelet Chiberta An 18-hole course, 71 par, 5,650 meters, in a picturesque location between the ocean and the forest. Some holes are complicated by water obstacles. Golf equipment rental, restaurant, boutique.

La Nivelle (15 km from Hotel Du Palais)

Golf de la Nivelle An 18-hole course with 70 par, 5,587 meters. A beautiful view of the bay and the mountains. Extras: driving range, putting green, golf equipment rental, restaurant, boutique.

Golf d’Arcangues (4 km from Hotel Du Palais)

An 18-hole course, 72 par, 5,650 meters Designed by Ronald Fream, opened in 1990. On the territory of the club: driving range, putting green, rent of golf equipment, restaurant, boutique.

Bassussarry (6 km from Hotel Du Palais)

Golf de Bassusarry – Makila Golf Club is an amazingly beautiful place. The course was designed by the American golf architect Rocky Roquemore (opened in 1993) and combines park style and classic links, i.e. it has both wooded areas with century-old oaks and open fields. The total length of the course is 6,176 meters. An 18-hole course (70 pars). Some are complicated by various obstacles. From each hole there is a picturesque view of the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees. The practice area (admission is free) is represented by 12 artificial turf courses and 20 grass courts. The club’s chief golf professional is 1987 French professional champion Jean Lamezon. On the territory of the club: driving range, putting green, golf equipment rental, restaurant, bar, boutique.

Seignosse (30 km from Hotel Du Palais- open all year round)

Opened in 1989 by architect Robbert Von Hagge, Golf Blue Green de Seignosse offers a vast area with unique contrasts in terrain. Professionals who have played here note the unique beauty of this course and at the same time its relative difficulty. The fields from the first to the 6th hole are located amphitheatrically. Further on up to the 11th hole there are beautiful oak trees and ship pines. An 18-hole course (72 par), 6,124 meters. The club invites golfers of all levels for excellent practice on one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in Europe. On the territory of the club: driving range, putting green, rent of golf equipment, restaurant, bar, boutique.

Treatment and recovery

Seawater treatment is the main direction of the local balneological centers. There is a very large thalassotherapy institute here. It occupies an area of 3000 square meters.

There is a seawater pool, beauty saloons, Jacuzzis, and a great number of procedures to choose from. Underwater massage, different kinds of showers, ultrasound treatment, algae therapy, electrotherapy, and sea aerosols are practiced here. With the help of these procedures you can quit smoking, lose weight, get rid of leg swelling, and regain strength.

Shopping

You can appreciate a collection of boutiques and world-famous trading houses, of which Biarritz is justly proud.

Entertainment and nightlife

Entertainment

A special spirit of the resort gives its bright cultural life – festivals, vernissages, world premieres, fashion shows, concerts, legendary shows. Here every day is a holiday – and the incomparable taste of the ocean in the air, like sparkling wine, fills the whole being with a feeling of joy.

Sunny Biarritz will meet and exceed the brightest expectations of the most sophisticated and ambitious guests. Biarritz is also famous for its culinary traditions. In the numerous restaurants you can enjoy delicious dishes of French, Basque and Spanish cuisine. And of course, how can you forget the fireworks and celebrations in Biarritz, when the music never stops, the food is piled up and the mood is lighthearted!

Spain is only 30 minutes away which means there are bullfights and a wonderful festival of Basque culture which takes place at the height of the holiday season in July. The cultural life of Biarritz is rich and varied: there are film festivals, art exhibitions, concerts.

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In the evening there are numerous restaurants, casinos, bars and discos. For shopping lovers Biarritz offers boutiques of world famous trading houses and fashion designers. The festivals with fireworks all year round and the music, which doesn’t stop till morning, will never let you forget Biarritz!

Nightlife

The nightlife is lively and lively with the nightclubs and casinos. The Casino Municipal contains both an informal section with slot machines and an elegant room dedicated to table games. Head to the best nightclub in Biarritz, Le Caveau, or the trendy Le Copa Cobana, where you can dance to the rhythms of salsa and other Latin American music alongside the usual music. Cuban music and tequila awaits you at Le Cayo Coco, and the best way to spend the setting sun is on the outdoor terrace sipping cocktails at Cote 57.

How to get to Biarritz

To get to Biarritz you need 2 tickets: one international to Paris and one local ticket from Paris to Biarritz.

From Paris, you can get by air from Orly airport (up to 8 flights daily, 1 hour and 20 minutes travel time) or by high-speed TGV train from Montparnasse station (8 times a day, 4 hours and 30 minutes travel time) during the day or all night, for the same price.

Biarritz. City-resort in France

The famous seaside resort Biarritz is nestled in a beautiful location on the coast of the Bay of Biscay in southern France.

It has become a symbol of elegance and first class style. Biarritz, by the way, was once a favorite vacation spot of Napoleon III’s wife Eugenie. It was she who turned a quiet fishing village into a famous beach town. To entertain her courtiers, the empress built a large palace here. It later became the chic Hotel du Palais.

Hotel du Palais in Biarritz

Palais-Hotel du Palais in Biarritz

Even the names of the city’s streets speak of its royal past. They are Avenue Emperatrice, Avenue Alfonso XIII, Rhein Victoria, and Piazza Elisabeth II. The well-kept houses with turrets are a reminder of former grandeur.

The streets of Biarritz

The cozy streets of Biarritz

Although the royal spirit of Biarritz has melted away, the city has retained its prestigious status. Biarritz is still considered one of the best and glamorous beach resorts in France.

Excellent sandy beaches, cozy beachfront villas and restaurants create an aristocratic sophisticated atmosphere. Spacious promenades with benches allow tourists to enjoy stunning views. Biarritz is also called the European Surf Capital.

And of course we will tell you about the main attractions of Biarritz.

Grand beach (Great Beach).

This is the main central beach of the city. It attracts high society ever since the so called “Belle Epoque”. This period is usually attributed to the years 1871-1914.

A wide beach line stretches from Boulevard Bellevue, all the way to the Hotel du Palais. In summer, the beach is filled with vacationers. That’s why lifeguards are on duty here at least from May until October. This beach is popular with surfers, but, during strong currents, swimming and surfing here is prohibited.

Grand beach – the central city beach of Biarritz This is what the Grand beach of Biarritz looks like in winter

Next to the beach there is a beautiful promenade. It is perfect for a quiet walk. The promenade offers perfect views of the sea and the city lighthouse in the distance. At the end of Grand Beach you will find the Hotel du Palais. This beautiful palace was built in 1855 by Emperor Napoleon III for his wife. It is now a national historic monument. It accentuates the luxurious imperial style well. Since 1893, the palace became a luxury hotel. It has a first-class spa, 2 swimming pools and a restaurant with amazing sea views.

Miramar Beach

This is no less beautiful beach than the previous one. Miramar beach stretches from Hotel Du Palais to Cape Saint Martin. It is characterized by gorgeous scenery and rough waves attacking the shore. The beach seems safe, but its strong currents can pose a threat.

Miramar attracts sunbathers to take spa treatments. They usually visit the Thalassa spa nearby. This beach is less crowded with tourists than the Great Beach. It has the charm of an old-fashioned beach resort. Lifeguards are on duty here in July and August.

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Not far from the shore you will see a huge rock. This is Roche Ronde, a protected bird sanctuary.

Miramar beach

Miramar beach

Biarritz Oceanarium

This interesting oceanarium is built on the side of a cliff in a breathtaking oceanfront location. It is one of the biggest oceanariums in Europe. You’ll find more than 20 aquariums on 7,000 m2. You can see amazing sea creatures from crabs and urchins to rare turtles and even hammerhead sharks.

One of the highlights of the Biarritz Oceanarium is the open-air seal pool. Here these funny animals swim and frolic. Particular attention is attracted by their feeding. The seals are fed twice a day at 10:30 and 17:00.

The Biarritz Oceanarium This is how the seals are usually fed at the Biarritz Aquarium

For more information, visit the oceanarium’s official website.

Biarritz Lighthouse

The famous Biarritz lighthouse can be found at Pointe Saint Martin. The height of the lighthouse 73 meters above sea level. It was built in 1834.

Tourists climb to the top of the lighthouse on a staircase with 248 steps. From here you can admire the excellent scenery of Biarritz and the surrounding villages.

Biarritz lighthouse

The highest point of the Biarritz lighthouse is 73 meters above sea level.

Biarritz Boulevards

The streets and boulevards of Biarritz exemplify the town’s aristocratic past. The large Boulevard Georges Clemenceau runs through the center.

Boulevard Georges Clemenceau

Boulevard Georges Clemenceau

Boulevard Bellevue is close by.

South of the center is a charming district along Boulevard Marshal Leclerc. It sits in a rocky bay between the Rocher du Bast and Cape Atalaye. It’s the usual starting point for a leisurely stroll along the entire Biarritz resort coastline.

Miremont Tea Room

Housed in a 17th century aristocratic mansion, this tea room is recognized as one of the oldest historic establishments in the city. Miremont is famous for its fine pastries, eclairs, cakes sen-onore and strawberry tarts. In addition, rare teas are offered here.

Miremont was founded in 1872 and was popular with royalty. King Alfonso XIII of Spain often dined here. King Edward VII of England appreciated the delicious pastries of Miremont.

Now tourists, too, can sample the delicious pastries at Miremont and dine in the tea room.

Miremont Tea Room

Miremont Tea Room

Our Lady’s Rock

The statue of the Virgin Mary on the steep promontory is a truly impressive sight. According to legend, fishermen who were caught in a storm came back to shore following the divine light that emanated from here. In gratitude for this, they erected a statue of the Virgin Mary on the promontory.

Napoleon III in 1887 built a bridge to this spot designed by Gustave Eiffel. Now to get to the statue of the Virgin, tourists just need to walk along the “Rue Eiffel Passerelle”. This is the same pedestrian metal bridge over the stormy waves of the ocean.

A visit to Our Lady’s Rock is one of the impressive activities in Biarritz. The scenic road will open spectacular panoramas of the coast from the mouth of the Adour river and all the way to the border with Spain.

Eiffel Bridge and the Rock of Our Lady of Biarritz

The Eiffel Bridge and the Rock of Our Lady of Biarritz

The Imperial Chapel

Empress Eugenie had this chapel erected for her. In 1865, construction was completed and the chapel was dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. In this quiet, secluded chapel you will find a harmonious combination of different architectural styles. Classic Romanesque arches rub shoulders with Moorish design elements and shiny golden Byzantine mosaics.

The chapel is accessible for tourists. The services are held there 4 times a year, and only on certain days. They are January 9 (Napoleon III Memorial Day), June 1 (day of the death of Napoleon III’s only child), July 11 (death of Empress Eugenie), and December 12 (Saint Virgin of Guadalupe Day).

Imperial Chapel

The Imperial Chapel

Surfing beaches

The Côte de Basque beach, surrounded by cliffs, has become the most famous surf beach in Biarritz. It is even said that this beach should be considered the birthplace of surfing. The imposing waves create difficult conditions for surfing. But for experienced surfers this is only a plus. That is why competitions are often held here as well. For beginners it is better not to go here, as there are a lot of stones on the bottom. Swimming is not allowed at high tide.

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La Côte de Basque

Beach Cote de Basque

Right next to it is Marbella Beach. Another great place to conquer the waves. You can get to this sandy, almost pristine beach only by special stairs.

Village of Saint-Jean-de-Luz

This is an ancient fishing village. Here you will plunge into the lively original atmosphere and get acquainted with the local culture. You will enjoy the excellent sandy beaches with calm waters. Beaches are ideal for children.

St Jean de Luz is less than half an hour south of Biarritz. Definitely take a day out to see this interesting seaside town. It is a contrast with the fashionable resort of Biarritz.

Saint-Jean-de-Luz

Village of Saint-Jean-de-Luz

The Village of Espelette

This vibrant village is famous for its red peppers. The houses here are picturesquely decorated with bundles of dried peppers grown on farms nearby. Peppers have become a staple ingredient in local cuisine here.

In October, after the harvest, the village holds the Pepper Festival. During this time, there are many peppers and other local products on the market. Guests at the festival can sample delicious foods and participate in village entertainment with concerts, games, and dancing.

The Village of Espelette

These are the kind of whimsical garlands that appear on houses during the Pepper Festival

The village of Saint-Jean Pierre de Por

This is an equally attractive place to tour about 50 km south of Biarritz. The village lies at the foot of the majestic Pyrenees Mountains at an altitude of 1,300 meters. In the Middle Ages, it was a stop for pilgrims on their way from Saint James to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

In this ancient UNESCO heritage village, you’ll stroll through charming cobbled streets and see the 13th-century church of Notre-Dame-du-Bois-Pau. The unspoiled surroundings of the village are perfect for hiking and just relaxing. Saint-Jean Pied de Por hosts a traditional festival in August with a variety of shows.

Saint Jean Pied de Por

The village of Saint-Jean Pierre-de-Port

Russian Orthodox Church in Biarritz

This church was built in 1892 in the Byzantine style by the famous architect Tisnes for Russian emigrants from aristocratic families. The interior is decorated with gilded icons brought from St. Petersburg. The church is open daily from 15-30 to 18-00.

Russian church in Biarritz

Alexander Nevsky Church – Russian Orthodox Church in Biarritz

Children’s beaches

Le Port Vieux is a small beach ideal for families with children. It is nestled in the rocky bay of Old Harbour not far from the city center. Since the beach is in a well-protected bay, there are almost no waves and swimming is much safer than at Grand and Miramar beaches. The shallow waters will definitely please children.

Le Port Vieux children's beach

Le Port Vieux children’s beach

Milady beach is another excellent children’s beach. It has a promenade and a playground.

City of the Ocean

This is an interactive museum in a modern building by Milady Beach.

Biarritz City of the Ocean

Ocean City building.

Its main purpose is to tell visitors about oceanology. Films in 3D, as well as interactive and virtual attractions have made learning about this science, fascinating and interesting. The exhibits focus on specific areas, such as climate change or the origin of waves. Virtual surfing lets you feel what it’s like to conquer the ocean waves and stay dry.

Biarritz City of the Ocean

This is how you can ride the waves and stay dry

Here you can see a virtual show that simulates a submarine dive to a depth of 1 kilometer.

For more information, visit the official Ocean City website.

Asiatica Museum.

One of Europe’s finest collections of Asian art (from China, India and Nepal in particular) is on display here. The museum has more than 1,000 exhibits representing different historical eras.

For more information, visit the museum’s official website.

Asiatic Museum

Asiatica Museum

Where to stay in Biarritz

Biarritz has been called the “Queen of Resorts and Resort of Kings.” It has been a major beach resort since the 19th century. Of course, there are plenty of hotels to choose from.

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