17 August 2018 by Jessica Boston
City focus: Biarritz
Biarritz has long been a top destination for holidaymakers with its old-world glamour, fantastic climate and great location, it’s a resort with something for everyone.
Situated on the Basque coast close to the Spanish border, Biarritz offers long sandy beaches with great surf for watersports. The rocky coastline is breathtakingly beautiful with panoramic views of mountains and sea.
The architecture is richly varied with grand hotels and glitzy casinos, palatial villas, art deco inspired and modern buildings mingled together for a cosmopolitan feel. Biarritz has been attracting tourists since the 1800s so it’s no surprise that there is plenty of sightseeing opportunities and a plethora of restaurants and cafes on hand to supply you with French-Spanish influenced dishes and local seafood.
Here are our top five must-see attractions for your holiday in Biarritz:
1. Go to the beach!
Whether you’re a surfer, sun worshipper or sandcastle-maker the beaches of Biarritz are not to be missed! Choose Grande Plage the huge main beach for busy summer days on the sands, or check out the surf at nearby Hossegor or Anglet; hot spots for surf competitions and surf schools.
2. Discover what’s beneath the waves:
Visit Cité de I’Océan…
This museum of the sea includes interactive displays and experiences that make it more hands on than most museums you may have been to! Explore a marine laboratory, dive into the depths on a simulated bathysphere journey and ride the waves in a surf-simulator. Lots to see and do with older children, especially your budding marine biologists!
…and Musée de la Mer
Now you’ve seen the science, explore the wildlife of the sea with a visit to this wonderful aquarium. Displays include sharks, seals, rays and tropical fish with feeding times to watch and informative talks throughout the day. There is also an exhibition dedicated to whales where you can hear the unique song of the humpbacked whale. It’s worth noting that the aquarium offers evening opening in summer and you may find it’s much less busy at these times.
3. Enjoy the view:
From the famous Rocher de la Vierge…
This famous statue of the Virgin Mary with Jesus stands on a rocky outcrop jutting out into the sea. It is reached by a footbridge from the end of Ponte Atalaye and be warned, depending on the tides and swell you can get a little wet making your way across! The views are worth the wet feet reaching as far as the Spanish mountains.
…and from Biarritz lighthouse
The 18th Century lighthouse is another fantastic viewpoint, climb the steps to the top for stunning coastal vistas and it’s easy to imagine the dramatic seafaring history of the region. From whaling, fishing and merchants to pirates and pleasure boats the history of Biarritz has always been tied to the sea. The 2km coastal walk from the Lighthouse into town is a fun way to see the area and an ideal pre-curser to a lavish seafood dinner in one of the town’s many excellent restaurants.
4. Go to church
Chapelle Impériale is a beautiful church commissioned in 1864 by Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon the Third. Its flamboyant design includes Byzantine and Moorish elements with intricate mosaic tiled walls and stunning painted ceilings. It is a unique example of the fusion of the different cultures that blend to make this fascinating region. Check at the Tourist Office for opening times, tours and advance tickets to avoid disappointment.
5. Marvel at the market
Les Halles covered market is one of the best in Southern France! The Basque influence and bounty of the sea are particularly evident with piles of octopus, colouful locally grown produce and delicious cured Bayonne hams. Many stalls offer food ready prepared so you can enjoy a ‘walking picnic’ as you wander amongst the traders – a sliver of cheese or ham, a juicy locally grown tomato, a pot of olives…you could even treat yourself to a dozen fresh oysters and a glass of crisp white wine! It’s the only place to be on a Sunday morning!
Biarritz is a stunning resort that gets you the best of three cultures in one with French, Spanish and Basque food, traditions and architecture elegantly colliding. There’s definitely enough to attract you for a week or two in the sun, and it’s also ideal for a fun daytrip if you are staying in the region. Explore our holiday lets in and around this wonderful city and plan your next French adventure with us!