Destination the Basque Country: Why Not Choose… Biarritz?
An ideal destination for both families and couples, Biarritz is the perfect place to explore and relax. The city is at its most beautiful in summer, ready to offer the best of its magic to both locals and visitors: its old port, its beaches, its bucolic walks, and the cultural treasures of its fascinating museums.
A City of the Sea
Biarritz is first and foremost a city where life revolves around the sea. Feel the call of its beaches, which are wonderful for long walks or swimming during bathing season. Obviously, it is also a top surfing destination! Recognised as one of the best surfing spots, it attracts enthusiasts from around the world. For its investment in this discipline, in 2015 it was awarded the 3 star "Ville de Surf" (Surfing City) label from the French Surfing Federation.
If you love the ocean, there are two magnificent museums on the subject: the Cité de l’Océan, an entirely new space dedicated to understanding and protecting our seas, and Biarritz Aquarium, which is one of the largest aquariums in France, with around fifty aquariums and several thousand species.
If you prefer the therapeutic benefits of the ocean to its choppy waves, Biarritz has a long tradition of marine treatments, with a thalassotherapy offer covering the full range of needs: seaweed wraps, massages, exfoliation, balneotherapy… It’s time for some pampering!
...a City of Sport
Surfing isn't the only sport in the spotlight in Biarritz. The city has the second oldest golf course in continental Europe (created in 1888), whilst "Aupa BO" (the rallying cry of Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque supporters) can be heard at every rugby match. They take their rugby seriously here! At the Biarritz Olympique History Museum, you can see all the press cuttings and over 1200 team photos from 1900 to the present day. All the disciplines of the multi-sports club are covered, including amateur rugby up to 1998, of course. The first floor of the museum is devoted to professional rugby from 1998 onwards. On a more traditional note, Basque pelota, which exists in over 20 variants, is still very much alive in the Basque Country.
...a City of Culture
What's more, Biarritz also has a very diverse cultural scene. Visit the Biarritz History Museum, where you can learn about life in the city in different periods, through a variety of documents, objects, uniforms, paintings and posters. Take a stroll around Les Halles indoor market, and sample some Basque specialities and local produce. And don't forget to make the most of the surrounding countryside. With its green, wooded landscape of hills and mountains, the Basque Country is a wonderful place for walks. You might even see a Pottok: the small mountain horse that lives wild in the area!
Top 10 Must-Sees
The Cité de l’Océan: this new discovery space focusing on the ocean is a unique chance to expand your knowledge, thanks to its fun and original approach. Where does sea water come from? How are waves made? Did Atlantis really exist? Would we be here without the ocean? Is it in danger today? Step inside to get all the answers.
Biarritz Aquarium: opposite the Rocher de la Vierge, the aquarium invites you to discover the seas in an original way. A large 1500m3 tank houses hammerhead sharks, rays and barracudas. A voyage of discovery beneath the waves!
The Old Port: one of the prettiest places in Biarritz. Below the coast road, you can find a slightly more authentic spot: fishermen, traditional little restaurants and a few old boats with peeling paint...
Biarritz Lighthouse: built in 1834, standing 73m above sea level and proudly boasting 248 steps, it overlooks the Cape Hainsart, which marks the boundary between the sandy coast of the Landes and the rocky coast of the Basque Country.
The Grande Plage beach in Biarritz: one of the largest beaches, stretching from the north to the south of the bay. It is in the heart of the city, with shops, cafés and restaurants all in easy reach.
The Rocher de la Vierge: a reminder of the miraculous night-time return of local fishermen during the huge storm of 1864. The bridge was rebuilt in 1887 by Gustave Eiffel.
Biarritz History Museum: housed in a former Anglican church, this museum is devoted to the city's past. In 1986, the Amis du Vieux Biarritz (Friends of Old Biarritz) Association took over the building, to revive the city's most prestigious memories. The porch features a memorial to the English officers who fell in the battles of the Napoleonic Wars fought in Biarritz in 1814.
Lake Marion: get your nature fix! Just a stone's throw from the city centre, this bucolic leisure and family walking site is a beautiful nature and relaxation spot. Fisherman, sports lovers and walkers all come here to unwind.
Les Halles indoor market: fish, sushi, truffles, Italian and Moroccan specialities: this market is a sensory and visual melting pot!
Biarritz Olympique History Museum: rugby fans, especially Biarritz Olympique supporters, will love exploring the collections.
A Foodie Holiday
In the Pays Basque, as you would expect, seafood takes pride of place. Try ttoro, a traditional fish stew resembling Provençal bouillabaisse, or marmitako, a kind of ragout using tuna. In the land of the Espelette pepper, there's no avoiding piperade, made with chili peppers, fried onions and tomatoes. You should also try another local dish: axoa, a veal and pepper ragout seasoned with Espelette pepper. For dessert, sample the traditional gâteau basque, made with shortcrust pastry and almonds. Wash it all down with sagarno, literally meaning apple wine: the emblematic drink of the Basque country.
March: Biarritz Maïder Arosteguy
Historical competition held every year, attracting Europe's best surfers. It is one of the oldest surfing competitions in Europe. Over the years, this event has come to mark the start of the surfing season in France.
June: Les Casetas
This celebration involving bodegas and restaurants on the Basque coast kicks off the summer season in Biarritz. This friendly celebration for all generations is a unique opportunity to enjoy one of the most beautiful sites on the Basque coast.
June: Les Océanes de Biarritz
A combination of events, concerts, surfing, exhibitions and a gastronomy competition on the Port des Pêcheurs, to celebrate the ocean and the start of summer.
July-August: Les Scènes Estivales
Every year, Biarritz's events agency (Biarritz Evénement) offers locals and holidaymakers a programme of events to make summer nights go with a bang. There is a variety of music: jazz, pop and rock, but also salsa and Basque dance.
December: Biarritz en Lumières
The city's festival of light is undoubtedly the event most beloved by locals! This huge and popular celebration brings dreams alive in the urban space, showcasing the very best creative illuminations.
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