Whether you like people watching, stunning scenery or water sports, there will be something for you to enjoy in the elegant resort town of Biarritz. The town started as a whaling settlement but by the 18th century visitors were arriving to benefit from the therapeutic properties of the ocean, as advised by local doctors. The popularity of the town with European royalty and aristocracy developed rapidly when the Empress Eugenia, wife of Napolean III, built a palace on the beach. Most of Biarritz’s modern visitors come for the excellent surfing, found on the Atlantic beaches. The most popular beach is Grand Plage, but Cote de Basque and several other smaller beaches are often quieter. As well as surfing, water sports enthusiasts will always find plenty of opportunities to raft, kayak or water ski. The town also has plenty to offer for culture, shopping and nightlife, including several truly elegant cafes. The Imperial Chapel, with its mix of Roman, Byzantine and Arabic architecture was built for the Empress Eugenia and reminds visitors of the city’s glamorous past. The young and young at heart always enjoy a trip to the Museum of the Sea with its 50 aquariums, aquatic displays and seal shows; whilst chocolate lovers can indulge their taste buds in the Planète Musée du Chocolat.
Biarritz enjoys a temperate climate and its mild to hot temperatures make it a popular resort all year round with the highest temperatures from May to October. The city hosts an annual surfing festival which takes place in July and is now one of the premier surfing competitions in Europe. Throughout July and August there are nightly music concerts which take place on the beaches and in the town squares as well as Trotting Races held in the town’s ‘hippodrome’.
The heart of Biarritz is pedestrianized and is easy and pleasurable to explore on foot, although it can be hilly in places. The beaches and shopping centers are also within comfortable walking distance. Buses are frequent and good value and are an excellent and economical way of exploring further afield. Single tickets can be bought either in advance or on the bus and there are also multiple journey tickets which need to be bought from the bus kiosks. There are guided tours at many visitor attractions and several coach companies offer half or full day excursions and tours. These will take you to such places as San Sebastian in Spain, to the shrine at Lourdes, the Landes region or simply for a fun day out at the aquatic park near the Bassin D’Arcachon.