Biarritz is the only surf town in the world with a royal history. In 1854, Empress Eugénie convinced her husband, Napoleon III, to visit the area. They bought land and built a palace on the beach, which made Biarritz one of the hottest resort towns in Europe. Film screenwriter Peter Viertel, Deborah Kerr’s husband, brought the first surfboard to France in 1956, when he came to shoot location shots for The Sun Also Rises. Biarritz is still considered the birthplace of European surfing.
Biarritz is a combination of French high culture and SoCal surf culture, putting a decidedly surfy spin on the notion of joie de vivre. You may start surfing at La Grande Plage in front of the town center, or if it gets too crowded, check out surrounding beaches such as La Côte des Basques, Anglet, (the convention venue), and nearby Guethary.
Biarritz became renowned in 1854 when Empress Eugenie built the palace on the beach (now the Hotel du Palais). The British royal family regularly took vacations in Biarritz: European royalty such as Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and Alfonso XIII of Spain were frequent visitors. Prince William and Kate visited Biarritz in the summer of 2016 with their two young children and stayed at the Hotel du Palais. Biarritz’s casino opened 10 August 1901 and it, and the beaches, made the town a notable tourist centre for Europeans.
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 ‘Musée 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.
The Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne district was formerly known as ‘the Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz agglomeration community’ or BAB. It changed its name in 2011 to become the ‘Basque-Adour agglomeration community’ (CABAB) to include the adjoining communities of Boucou and Bidart. Whilst ‘Biarritz, Anglet, Bayonne, Boucou and Bidart’ all comprise the agglomeration community, each is an individually managed municipality.
A detailed description and history of Biarritz is available here
More about Biarritz available here
Biarritz Taxi: 05 59 03 18 18
Biarritz Tourist Office: Tel : 05 59 22 37 10 | Email : firstname.lastname@example.org |