Biarritz, riding the waves

Maïder Oyarzabal

The story

The drops of the storm rain vanish into the sea foam. The ocean proclaims its reign as the waves, each more powerful than the last, break on the first seawalls of the fishing port. In Biarritz, the ocean rules over the city.
It would be difficult to find a more beautiful landscape on the Atlantic than the one stretching between the lighthouse Saint-Martin and the Basque coast, known as a surfers’ paradise. Here every beach lures you with its own unique atmosphere, and every tide clears a new path for a walk along the water.

The sounds, the play of the waves, the dancing lights: in Biarritz, the spectacle is played out in front of the ocean. The passersby move as though choreographed to the rhythm of the waves, carried towards the emblematic heart of the city: the Palace, the Rock of the Virgin, Villa Belza. Perched on its peninsula, the Villa Belza returns to its full splendor in the evening, when the sea is dark and the coast lights up, revealing a magical, fleeting vision of its exuberant past.

The architecture of Biarritz is one of a kind. Castles, art nouveau villas, an art deco casino, the dazzlingly modern “City of the Ocean”. Sauntering along the coastline, one moves across periods and styles. It is as easy to lose one’s way in the narrow streets of the Saint-Charles district as in a sea labyrinth made of rocks, caves, cenotes and caverns.

In the city center, brand stores stand abreast concept stores and age-old edifices. The Miremont tea room has been facing the sea since 1872. Under the glow of its chandeliers, the house specialty of hot chocolate with cream and a piece of Basque cake on the side is simply irresistible. At the foot of the Church Sainte-Eugénie, the fishing port, the soul of the city, lays nestled in the hollow of the Atalaye cliff. The elders with their berets and the small houses, "crampottes", keep the past of Biarritz alive. Over an aperitif, they share their fishing stories and let you in on the latest talk of the town.

Heading up towards Les Halles, the city starts to buzz and throb. In the morning, the main meeting point is the market, awash with tourists and locals mixing together in search of wondrous Basque specialties. Ham, piperade, veal axoa, sheep milk cheese, chipirons... In the evenings, everyone gathers in the bars surrounding the market to drink and share the delicious pintxos (tapas in Basque). A great opportunity to taste txacoli, the local white wine.

Having transformed from a small fishing village to a seaside resort favored by the royalty, today Biarritz is growing into a thriving creative outpost. Stylists, chefs, graphic designers and photographers have all found their home here... Since the 1950s, the surfing scene has revitalized Biarritz and become an integral part of its culture and way of life. We love its classy but relaxed and bohemian style, that “French California” feel you only find in Biarritz. Now more than ever, it is the call of the open sea that gives Biarritz its unique character and spirit of freedom.

When to go?

We often say that in the Basque Country all four seasons pass by in the same day, yet its beauty is fully revealed in midseason: in spring, when the mountains take on a bright green color and the cities bloom with hortensias, and as autumn approaches, bringing colors of the Indian summer.

How to get there?

Once you arrive at the Biarritz airport or train station, you can go everywhere on foot. In order to explore the Basque coast and visit the surrounding area, a car is the best option.

Experiences

Discover the secrets of the last Basque pelota studio

More than a game, Basque pelota is a way of life. Get to know the anecdotes and the artisanal know-how by visiting the last Basque pelota workshop. Watch the craftsmen work with extraordinary materials to create pelotas, gloves and balls and leave with your own personalized item.

Ride the waves with a champion

Take a surf course with a former European champion on Biarritz’s La Grande Plage. A mythical spot and a dream teacher, what better combination to get into this sport or to perfect your wave catching.

Cross the Basque Country in a 2CV

Embark on board a Citroën 2CV to trace historical paths and taste some local products. On this extraordinary route you can discover the Basque Country off the beaten track: from the small colorful streets to Bayonne’s scenic Route Impériale des Cimes formerly used by Napoleon’s troops.

Our address book

L'impertinent

Only home-made

Its name is bold, and so are the dishes that helped the restaurant quickly make a name for itself. L'impertinent has already been awarded its first Michelin star for his creative cooking that adds a touch of the sublime to local products. We love its suckling lamb, the fish sourced exclusively from the auction in Ciboure, and the bread made by the chef himself.

5 rue d'Alsace

Maison Miremont

An institution

Miremont tea room, once a meeting point for royalty, remains a veritable institution of Biarritz. Rostand wrote: “At tea time, there are less cakes in Miremont than there are Queens and fewer “Babas au Rhum” than there are Grand Dukes." None of its splendor has been lost. More than a tea room, its lunch-time fare is just as inviting—and, to top it off, there’s the superb view of the ocean.

Place Bellevue

L'Entre Deux

A chic bistro

This restaurant is rooted in the story of two childhood friends, Jean Van de Velde and the chef Rémy Escale, sharing their love of food. A congenial place where French culinary classics are served with an original and sophisticated touch. With its large bay windows and modern decoration, this trendy restaurant is truly one chic bistro.

5 Avenue du Maréchal Foch

Les Baigneuses

On the rooftops of Biarritz

After a swim at the old port beach, what better way to end the day than on the rooftop of the “Baigneuses” with a plate brimming with local flavors or a drink with a view. It’s a good alternative to the bars of Les Halles, which can be overly crowded in summer, and a great place to enjoy the sun setting to the rhythm of hip DJ sets.

14 rue Port Vieux

Docteur Muller Pergulosi

The curing drink

The best prescription for a sojourn in Biarritz: take in the outstanding musical program, refined world cuisine, cozy space and astounding design. Here, the musical events are the main attraction, but the stunning setting and relaxing atmosphere are worth a visit in themselves.

5 rue Gardères

Etxola Bibi

A sea-infused cocktail in a legendary locale

Extola Bibi is where all of Biarritz comes together: surfers leaving the beach, groups of “petanque” players, friends and couples in love… all come here to marvel at the sun setting over the Basque coast. The menu is simple and hearty, much like this legendary spot for lovers of waves.

Square Jean Baptiste Lassalle

La Cité de l’Océan

Entering the secrets of the Wave

Don’t pass up a visit to this wave-shaped museum that will take your love of the ocean to new depths. The City of the Ocean is dedicated to oceanic exploration and protection. Moving from interactive exhibits to 3D animations, you are drawn into the heart of the wave, embarking on a journey of discovery to underwater secrets.

1 Avenue de la Plage la Milady

Pâtisserie Goxoak

A gourmet break

Goxoak is more than just a cake shop, it is an invitation to indulge in afternoon tea time: “financiers” (the traditional French almond cakes), caramel spread, chocolate lollipops, mini tarts ... every sweet tooth is sure to find its fix, and most coveted of all is the house specialty sponge cake—the pride and passion of Thomas Brocherioux’s shop. Son of a master chocolatier and a true gourmand, Brocherioux has revived afternoon tea time in a spirit of sharing charmingly reminiscent of old times.

30 de la rue de la Bergerie

Walk around the Lakes

A walk between the lakes and the ocean

Skip the habitual tourist route by following the lake paths. Three extraordinary walking trails will lead you to discover another side of the city with its gorgeous properties, gardens with gloriettes, palm trees... Time the easy stroll from Lake Mouriscot to Lake Marion right to see its grand finale: sun setting over the Milady beach on the background of a pink-colored sky.

From the Lake Mouriscot to the Lake Marion