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places to visit in Biarritz

by Sue and Dave
(UK)

The Beach

The Beach



Biarritz

To lovers of french culture, Biarritz is definitely a great place to be in the summer. And if you have never been there, you will not be too pleased that you only got to discover it now.

Usually, the automatic destinations for people planning a trip to France are Paris, Nice or Cannes. Most people have never even heard of Biarritz. Yet Biarritz is the ultimate beach town, the closest equivalent France has to the Isle of Palms near Charleston, South Carolina or Newport Beach, California.

Being Basque country, the locals are more than friendly and down to earth.

My only complaint about Biarritz was the fact that the Grande Plage beach I had chosen as my vacation point was too crowded. Perhaps my mistake was going to Grande Plage at the height of the summer, when it is always likely to be busy. June and September are apparently the best times to go there.

It was only towards the end of my trip that I decided to explore the beaches of Anglet - after some locals suggested it - which are more less crowded and it’s a place I’d recommend for those planning to visit Biarritz in the near future.

Hossegor, with its great sandy dunes, is also said to have some beautiful beaches but I never got the chance to go there.

The beaches in Biarritz tend to be rocky with small caves, making for a convenient pit stop, and great photo opportunities, on the walks up and down the beach.

Biarritz is arguably the European capital of surfing and has plenty of surfing
schools if you are still learning. Being an ardent surfer, I made it a point to conquer the famed big wave, often refered to as ‘sister break’, in Bidart - about 5 km south of Biarritz. True to what I had heard, the wave was quite easy to paddle out to but a vertical nightmare on take off. But I throughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to go back again.

I was staying at the Grand Imperiatrice Hotel but for those on a tight budget, I’d recommend registering into a camping ground along the beach highway.

Though temperatures were quite high, the weather was bearable since it was almost always breezy.

On clear days, nearby San Sebastian (Spain) can be seen down the coast line. And watching the sun set over the ocean can become an addiction considering how beautiful it looks. The scenic lighthouse on the horizon is another great feature.
Make sure you carry your camera with you, otherwise you miss the photo opportunity.

When I wasn’t basking on the beach or surfing, I found time to visit the Virgin’s Rock (Rocher de la Vierge), a rock with a virgin statue on top of it, from where you can see the whole Basque coast and Spain in the distance.

I also stopped by the Musee d'Art Oriental Asiatica, a museum which has unique works of art from the cultures of the Orient, particularly those of India, China and Tibet. Even if you don’t know much about art, the information cards on all these countries, the periods and the works of art that characterize them will make you feel at home.

Historic sites I also visited include the Russian Orthodox Church - Eglise Alexandre Newsky and the St Martins-Church.

I didn’t get to eat out much but on the one occasion I did, I picked a café called Dodin right on the beach, were I was served delightful piperade (scrambled eggs laced with tomato and chilli). The Vieux Port (Old Port) has a collection of rustic harbor-side restaurants, so you won’t really be short of places to go to.

My nights were spent in the various dance clubs that speckle the boardwalk or the big Monaco-like casino, housed in a beautiful 19th century building overlooking the ocean.


Photo of the day in France old house with shutters



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