For a sleek beachfront wonderland with an explosion of culture and the best waves in Europe, Biarritz is your town. Once a seaside resort for Napoleon III and cherished by the 19th century upper class, you’ll now share the gorgeous white sand with beach bums and the jeunesse dorée (golden youth) of France – assuming you can afford it.
Peer into the 19th century miniature masterpiece inspired by Empress Eugénie at the Chapelle Impériale, or see how much eminence you can exude lounging around the 1920s-style beach tents along the Plage Miramar. Mingle with the chic chicks while enjoying tea and bay views from Miremont, or pamper yourself silly at one of the nearby spas. If you can look half as well groomed as the overly manicured poodles that populate this town, consider it a job well done!
Biarritz’s Top 10
10. Thalassotherapy Indulge in a day of ‘sea healing’ – high-pressure hoses, massages and smears of mud and seaweed.
5. Phare de Biarritz Marvel at the Basque coast from the tippy top of this 19th century lighthouse.
9. Euskal-Jaï Immerse yourself in Biarritz culture via a professional cesta punta match.
4. Église Ste-Eugénie This gorgeous example of neo-Gothic architecture was built in 1864 as a monument to Empress Eugénie.
8. Plage du Port Vieux This secluded beach hidden within a tiny cove is one of Biarritz’s best-loved swimming spots.
3. Musée d’Art Oriental Asiatica For a treasure trove of ancient Indian, Chinese and Tibetan statues, monuments and artwork, explore this haphazard collection.
7. Planéte Musée du Chocolat Throw your willpower out the window and delve into the history of French chocolate.
2. Rocher de la Vierge The ‘Rock of the Virgin’ offers views down to the border with Spain.
6. Église Alexandre Newsky This Russian Orthodox church was built for the abundance of Russian aristocrats who once frequented Biarritz.
1. Musée de la Mer For an aquatic adventure housed in art deco, explore through Biarritz’s seaside history and stick around for a whale show.
- St-Martin's Church – Established in the 12th century, this historic structure underwent restoration during the 16th century.
- Musee Historique de Biarritz – A museum that exhibits how Biarritz began as a simple fishing port.
- Russian Orthodox Church – Constructed in the 19th century for Russian visitors from the aristocratic families.
- Chapelle Imperiale – Decorated with intricate and elegant details, this chapel was created for the Empress Eugenie.
- Le Petit Train de La Rhune – One of the three remaining cogwheel trains in France, this one runs from La Rhune to Sare.
Biarritz Art & Culture
- Asiatica Museum – Features important art pieces from Nepal, India and China.
- Biarritz Surf Festival – Held during mid-July of every year, this major surfing event also offers various water competitions for professionals and enthusiasts.
- Musée del la Mar – Offers several huge aquariums containing wonderful marine species.
- Le Musee du Chocolat – This museum showcases the history of making chocolates.
- Le Casino de Biarritz – This white building has been in operation since 1901 and has helped Biarritz become a European entertainment destination.
- Clemenceau – This public square has all the main boutiques and shops for designer clothes and accessories.
- Pariès – A shop that sells the finest chocolates in France including several types of tourons or nougats.
- Mille et Un Fromages – Special French cheeses together with a grand wine collection.
- Pare Gabia – Specializes in making colorful espadrilles, a special kind of Basque shoes that has a canvas-shaped top and a bottom rope or ribbon.
- Galeries Lafayette – This French department store chain in Biarritz includes a supermarket.
Biarritz Gay & Lesbian
- La plage les 100 Marches – This fine-sand beach has a well-known area where gay people mingle.
- Excuse Bar – This chic bar is where gay locals and tourists make new acquaintances in Biarritz.
- L’Eleven Bar – Known for its cool ambiance, it usually accommodates a mixed crowd but is considered to be very gay friendly.
- Gay Pride Festival – Held usually in June, this event is one of the most popular and heavily visited in Europe.
- Le Caveau – Has a vibrant atmosphere and plays European house music that attract a gay crowd.
- Grande Plage – A spectacular beach with great waves and a 500m stretch of fine sand.
- Plateau de l’Atalaye – This site has cliffs overlooking the Atlantic waters and is a favourite destination of whale watchers.
- La Rocher de la Vierge – This outcrop features a Virgin Mary statue and provides a spectacular view of Biarritz and its coastal waters.
- Jerkins de la villa Arnaga – This beautiful garden features a stunning landscape of flowers, shrubs and trees.
- Plage de la Cote des Basques – This long beach with a backdrop of huge cliffs represents the elusiveness and beauty of Biarritz.
- Play golf at Biarritz le Phare, the second-oldest course in Europe.
- Learn new surfing skills at the La plage Miramar, Biarritz centre.
- Watch a rugby union match at the Parc des Sports Aguiléra Stadium.
- Engage in white-water rafting on the Nive River.
- Enjoy horseback riding at the Les Ecuries de Lortenia.
Express yourself and marvel at technology at the annual International Festival of Audiovisual Programs in January.
March’s Bi Harriz lau XORI Festival is a five-day bonanza of all things Basque.
Don your monocle in May and feast your highbrow eyes on Biarritz’s yearly Festival of the Arts.
For a celebration of the seaside, slap on your snorkel and head along to The Ocean sea festival in June.
The largest music festival in Biarritz is the aptly named BIG Festival in July.
When To Go
If you want the sun beating down on the ridge of your nose as you peer into the horizon, visit Biarritz in August.
December brings cooler temperatures that make walking around the city as pleasant as it is scenic.
For the low rainfall and warm weather, March and April are the best months.
Biarritz is very pedestrian-friendly, and using your feet is the best way to experience the sightseeing, surfing and shopping.
There is an excellent bus network around Biarritz. You can get wherever you need to go for around €1.
If all else fails, there are plenty of taxis around.
Biarritz's status as a seaside resort par excellence was cemented in the mid-19th century when Empress Eugenie, then wife of Napoleon III, commissioned a palace to be built on the beach. Soon thereafter, the Bay of Biscay Atlantic coast town became a popular summer retreat with European royalty and the well-heeled aristocracy. Queen Victoria herself was known to be fond of Biarritz. Today, Eugenie's palace, or the grand Hôtel du Palais, still looms over the coastline as a prominent reminder of a bygone era, when Biarritz was the sole domain of the upper crust.
Thankfully, the resort in the exquisite Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of southwest France is now open to all. Biarritz is a worldwide hub for watersports and hosts one of the most famous international surf festivals every summer. Casinos draw the affluent and less wealthy alike and superb museums, from the Asiatica Museum to the Museum of the Sea, provide fun for the entire family.
- Russian Orthodox Church
- St. Martin's Church
- Asiatica Museum
- Chapelle Impériale
- Museum of the Sea
- Surf Festival
- Biarritz Beach
- Biarritz Olympique Rugby
- Chez Albert
- La Santa Maria
- Bar du Marché
- Clos Basque
- Chez Albert
- La Santa Maria
- Bar du Marché
- Clos Basque
- Ventilo Caffe
- Le Caveau
- Love Club
- La Licorne
Biarritz has a temperate marine climate, with mild weather throughout the year.
- Winter (December to February) 4-12°C
- Spring (March to May) 6-18°C
- Summer (June to September) 14-24°C
- Fall (October to November) 7-19°C
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