DISTANCE FROM CENTRE
Biarritz, in the Southwest of France, is a beautiful small city of extreme surfers, but also those who are looking for a quick escape. An idyllic town that still holds its head up high, we always love our visits here for bringing us something new and unexpected.
Visitors to Biarritz will find a town that is in full swing every summer, taking advantage of its surprisingly good surf to draw in millions of visitors a year. Sunbathers will never be bored as they watch surfers rise and fall on the waves, and history hounds will delight in all the places that Napoleon III and his Spanish-born wife used to visit in Biarritz. Enjoy the art deco details and the little winding streets hiding gems of all sorts; Biarritz is now, more than ever, one of our favorite French beach resorts.
Biarritz itself is quite a small city so it would be unfair of us to parcel it out into different neighborhoods when really, the whole city is quite wonderful. However, there are plenty of small towns neighboring Biarritz that we think deserve plenty of attention from visitors.
Bayonne is the french Amsterdam in many ways, from its many waterside buildings and tiny cobbled streets that will delight all visitors. A quick bus ride away from the city of Biarritz, Bayonne is much more quiet and suited to those who are looking for a creative escape or laid back vacation and aren’t fussed about being on the beach every day. We recommend a holiday rental here, or a small boutique hotel as these establishments are committed to preserving the culture of Bayonne by promoting sustainable and culturally responsible tourism.
Just north of the Spanish border, Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a gorgeous and happy seaside town that mixes a heavy history of Basque culture and tradition with the easy-going nature of a seaside town. Stay here if you’re with family, the culture is much more relaxed than it is in Biarritz. Any of the coastal hotels will be perfect for your stay as they often have in-house spa services or their own pools if the beach is too crowded. Or of course you can stay inland in a vacation rental for maximum exposure to the Basque culture and architecture.
Obviously, try out surfing at what is easily considered the best surfing destination in Europe. The waves are almost always good, and there are areas for beginners who are still getting a handle on their board, or if you’re more experienced, try your hand (or feet!) on the same waves that professional surfers compete on. Of course, if you get bored of surfing, just make your way to the beach once again to sunbathe or to enjoy the many cafes and shops along the promenade.
If you want a break from the beach, head inland to discover some of Biarritz’s most iconic cultural mainstays such as the many churches and cathedrals scattered throughout the city. Indulge in the beautiful basque stylings of each of these gorgeous places. In particular, we highly recommend stopping by the Eglise Alexandre Newsky, Eglise Sainte Eugenie, and the Chapelle Imperiale for a wonderful look at the rich relationship Biarritz has had with religion.
We also recommend the Cite de l'Ocean for something a bit more off the beaten path. This science museum explores much of the mysteries of the ocean and the things that live in it. We particularly liked visiting the roof of the museum, which is shaped like a giant wave! The VR surfing experience isn’t too bad either.
While the summer is obviously the best time to visit this beautiful coastal town, the warm weather here makes it a great destination to visit year round. Additionally, being only a ninety minute flight from London makes it an ideal break year round for visitors who just want to get away from the grey city life to visit this classy resort town.
If you want to catch the best waves, try to head over in the late spring before the bulk of the summer tourists arrive, or early fall when the water is still warm. Be advised though, because it’s primarily a resort town, it does get deserted in the winter and many hotels close, so make sure you keep that in mind when planning your trip!