Biarritz, the ocean in full
A few kilometres from the Spanish border, this imperial sea resort opens onto the ocean and its marine breeze, and blends a laid-back lifestyle with multiple sporting activities.
In the 19th century, Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, had made Biarritz her summer camp, as the seaside resort was living to the rhythm of the Atlantic Ocean. Shades of blue contrast with the golden sand of its six beaches, the reputation of which having gone international. All year long, pro and amateur surfers look for the right wave, board under the arm, from the famous Basque coast.
"When you hesitate between two beaches," famous French playwright Sacha Guitry wrote, "one of them is always Biarritz." The world famous Grande Plage (Great Beach) beach attracts surfers and sun worshippers from around the world.
Golfers flock to the region for its sublime courses, like the mythical Le Phare Golf Club in the very heart of the city. Nestled between sea and mountain, Biarritz offers views of the first slopes of the Pyrenees, dotted with villages of picturesque houses with red shutters. The unique landscape provides a perfect excuse to set off and explore hills and villages, on foot, by bike or on a "pottok" - the small horse of the Basque region. Local traditions and cultures are part of the charm of this "pays" that still speaks Basque, the lilting language that can be heard in the grandstand at rugby matches or pelota games. In the newly renovated Les Halles de Biarritz, foodies share tapas, pintxos and other delectables, such as the famous Gateau Basque cake. A few kilometres away, you may visit Guéthary, an old whale fishing harbour and perfect spot to sip a cocktail while taking in the sunset. The nightlife continues at the Spanish border, in Hondarribia and San Sebastián, linked together by the famous coast path.
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charm - boutique hotel
bistro - unexpected
beach restaurant not-to-be-missed