BIARRITZ is the only surf town in the world with a royal history, it is located on the Atlantic coast in the French Basque Country in southwestern France 22 miles from the border with Spain. It is a seaside tourist destination known for the Hôtel du Palais, its casinos, and its surfing culture. French is the priority language, many locals speak Spanish and English, some speak Basque.
It is a combination of French high culture and SoCal surf culture, putting a decidedly surfy spin on the notion of joie de vivre.
More about Biarritz | Slideshow | Basque mythology, spirituality and religion | Who are the Basques | The Basques & whaling |
ANGLET is part of the B.A.B. (Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz), district, neighbouring Biarritz. The sandy coast starts 200 km to the north and ends in Anglet at the Biarritz Lighthouse. Anglet is 10% forested with a coastal reserve. The Adour River (ninth largest port in France) enters the Atlantic Ocean on the northern border of the community. | More about Anglet | Slideshow |
BIARRITZ offers one of the most attractive seaside saunters in France on a route lined with tamarisks and hydrangeas. It starts at the lighthouse on the high headland and passes France’s second-oldest golf course and the Russian Orthodox Church, built for visiting 19th Century nobility.
The famous old promenade along the Grande Plage leads past the Casino Barriere, with a fine art deco ceiling and floor, to the peaceful old square ‘Place Ste-Eugenie’ and the ‘Musee de la Mer’ (Museum of the Sea), with its twice-a-day shark-feeding sessions. Biarritz made its fortune from the sea as a whaling settlement from the twelfth century onwards.
In the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic properties, inspiring patients to make pilgrimages to the beach for alleged cures for their ailments.The Rock of the Virgin, the statue of Madonna, set up to keep local fishermen safe, is accessed over a bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, of ‘Eiffel Tower’ fame.
Surf in Biarritz
At the end of World War II in Europe, the U.S. Army’s Information and Educational Branch was ordered to establish an overseas university campus for demobilized American service men and women in Biarritz. Under General Samuel L. McCroskey, the hotels and casinos of Biarritz were converted into quarters, labs, and class spaces for U.S. service personnel.
The University opened 10 August 1945 and around 10,000 students attended an eight-week term. This campus was set up to provide a transition between army life and subsequent attendance at a university in the USA, so students attended for just one term. After three successful terms, the G.I. University closed in March 1946
Biarritz hosted the 2019 meeting of the ‘G7’ for heads of State. Biarritz was selected as host city for the 2019 International Surfing Association Longboard Championships. Biarritz also hosted the highly successful 2017 ISA World Surfing Games, accentuated by huge crowds. The World Surfing Games are the forerunner to surfing as a selected Olympic sport in 2021 in Japan.
Bayonne located 10 min from Biarritz and the ocean, is a fortified town of 46,000 traversed by the Nive and Adour rivers which converge in front of the town hall. Located on the northern coast of the Basque country which stretches 35 km along the Atlantic ocean, Bayonne rubs shoulders with famous resort towns like Biarritz, and Anglet, as well as the picturesque inland-Basque villages of Aïnhoa, Sare, Espelette and St Jean Pied de Port. The Basque Country extends into neighbouring Spain where visits to San Sebastián, Hondarribia, Pamplona or Bilbao and its famous Guggenheim Museum can be made.
Bayonne is a 5 hour high-speed train-ride from Paris and Bordeaux is 2 hours away. By road, Pau is 1 hour, Toulouse 3 hours, Madrid 4 hours, and Barcelona 5 hours. Bayonne and neighbouring Anglet and Biarritz are the perfect places to stay and visit the whole of the region. Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne formerly known as ‘the BAB’ includes adjoining communities, Boucou and Bidart. Whilst ‘Biarritz, Anglet, Bayonne, Boucou and Bidart’ all comprise the agglomeration community, each is an individually managed municipality.
The knife/sword weapon, the bayonet, mounted on a rifle’s muzzle, and dating back to the 16th century is believed to have been invented/developed by the peasants defending the city of Bayonne against enemies at that time.
BIARRITZ SIGHTS & FEATURES
Asiatica Museum: Asian art from India, Nepal, Tibet, & China.
Museum of the Sea: has 24 aquaria, sharks and seals.
Annual Biarritz Surf Festival: a premier surf event in Europe
St-Martin’s Church: 12th century, restored 16th century.
Russian Orthodox Church: constructed for visiting Russian aristocrats.
Chappelle Imperiale: built for Empress Eugenie.
Hôtel du Palais: a palace on the beach, built for Empress Eugenie.
Museum of Chocolate: The history and manufacture of chocolate.
Two casinos: Barrière and Bellevue, on the waterfront.
Walking Tour Biarritz
At only 40 minutes’ drive from the Spanish border (1h from San Sebastian), is “the queen of resorts and resort of kings”. A destination of unrivalled beauty, amazing cultural heritage, and fascinating history.
During the walking tour of Biarritz, you will stroll along the stunning Biarritz coastline, with a licensed and passionate Tour Guide.
You will visit some of the highlights of this exclusive resort, like the fabulous Grande Plage, the legendary Hotel du Palais, surprising aristocratic villas of the 1900’s Quarter, the marine charm of the Port des Pecheurs and the unforgettable and romantic views of Biarritz’s most important attraction, the Rocher de la Vierge.
At the end of the guided tour of Biarritz you will know every secret of the town, and you will understand why this fishing port and whaling station during the middle ages became one of the first and most glamorous resorts of the world, and the mecca of surf in Europe.
GUIDED TOUR OF BIARRITZ in English
(Any Day: 7 persons minimum – 2 hours duration).
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City walking Tour (2hours)
City tour (3hours)
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