Breathtaking Biarritz, France

Casino lovers, beach bums, shoppers, surfers, golfers, photographers, big spenders, history buffs, art lovers, architecture affectionados, thalassotherapy patients, foodies…Biarritz has something for everyone.

Beautiful Biarritz

Beautiful Biarritz

Biarritz is located in France’s Basque region, on the Atlantic and at the base of the Aquitaine mountain range. The city’s historical significance stems from the fact that Napoleon III and his wife, Empress Eugénie, spent quite a bit of time here.  Thanks to their presence, Biarritz became a chic beach side resort in the 19th century. Similar to Nice, Biarritz was historically where the rich and famous (including European royalty) would come to play. Today, while it isn’t hard to bump into a few billionaires during your stay, Biarritz is entirely accessible to the typical traveler.  While planning our trip, we found a wide range of reasonably priced hotels and restaurants.

The wild waves that make Biarritz a surfer's dream

The wild waves that make Biarritz a surfer’s dream

While I could have been happy simply lounging next to sapphire blue waters for my entire stay, I did explore some of Biarritz’s lovely sights. One of my favorites was the city’s large oceanside casino, Casino Barrière de Biarritz. Dripping with art nouveau style, the lovely Casino Barrière offers state of the art gaming, a nightclub, several bars and restaurants, and breathtaking views of the Atlantic. Another treat was the Musée de la Mer de Biarritz, which would be a fantastic place to bring kids on a family trip. As you exit the museum, snap a quick picture of the Virgin on the Rock, which is exactly what it sounds like, a smooth white statue of the Virgin Mary tucked into a rough rock, which creates an interesting aesthetic juxtaposition.

Virgin Mary statue on the Rock

Virgin Mary statue on the Rock

Biarritz is a veritable paradise for surfers and golfers. Two of my regular travel companions are obsessed…er…enthralled with these sports, so, thanks to them, I have quite a bit of information on both waves and links. In 1957, surfers from California who were traveling through Europe first discovered the waves of Biarritz. During the 50 years to follow, surfing became a large part of the local culture. Today, Biarritz is considered the “surf capital” of Europe. You can rent a board right on the main beach, and there are special areas designated for surfers. The Biarritz Surf Festival takes place each July, gathering all the big names of longboard surfing.

Biarritz's long stretch of beach hosts many a surfing competition

Biarritz’s long stretch of beach hosts many a surfing competition

Considering the fact that there are 10 golf courses within an 18-mile radius of Biarritz, golfers will never find an excuse to be bored.  A prime destination for Europe’s golf community, Biarritz is home to the second oldest golf course in continental Europe, Biarritz le Phare .

Le Phare (lighthouse)  for which the golf course is named

Le Phare (lighthouse) for which the golf course is named

The scenic par 69 course of 18 holes is set over a distance of 5376m. Biarritz le Phare hosts many competitions throughout the year, including the Biarritz Cup. To the delight of international golfers, Biarritz’s temperate climate is conducive to playing golf year-round.

Maison Adam: a delight to the palate

Maison Adam: a delight to the palate

Of course, shoppers can find anything their hearts desire in Biarritz. Jewelry shops, perfumeries, fine clothing boutiques are all just a five minute walk from the beach. I highly recommend a stop by the renowned Maison Adam, featuring fine chocolates, macaroons and other sweets in a luxurious boutique setting- quite an enjoyable visit, even if your wallet, like mine, isn’t up to the workout.

Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com

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