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Festive and colourful, Biarritz is one of France’s most attractive seaside resorts, close to the Spanish border.
Biarritz lies 35km from Spain, in the Basque country. It is a French town full of character, where visitors can enjoy the French way of life, regional traditions and the proximity to the Pyrenees mountain range.
The old fishing port was built in 1780 and its atmosphere has retained its authenticity. Even today you can see the fisherman cleaning their nets after a day out at sea.
Biarritz is one of many French seaside resorts that gained popularity in the 19th Century, when doctors thought the ocean had therapeutic properties and encouraged their patients to spend time by the sea. The town was transformed by Napoleon III, when his wife the Empress Eugenie built a palace along the seafront. Biarritz attracted Europe’s royals and aristocrats, who came to enjoy the temperate climate. The influx of Russian aristocrats was such that they even built a Russian Orthodox Church. Until the 1950s, Biarritz was the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic. The town has been rediscovered by a new generation of surfers and trendy Parisians in the 1990s and is now again a thriving seaside resort.
With activities for all ages and to suit all tastes, Biarritz is a popular holiday destination with French as well as international tourists.
Although quieter in the winter, Biarritz maintains a lively buzz throughout the year.
Today, visitors chose this elegant destination for sea water spa therapy, health, fitness and relaxation. The Grand Plage is the largest beach, and the city’s main feature. Biarritz is known for its waves and attracts many surfers. The annual Biarritz Surf Festival was founded in 1993 at the Côte des Basques and is one of the main surf events in Europe.
Biarritz is also popular with golfers, Basque Pelota, rugby players - and rugby supporters. The Rugby club is famous internationally and the inhabitants take the sport seriously. Shop windows are dressed in the local team colours and matches are watched on every screen in the city.
Things to do in town include:
- walking around the Marion lake;
- climbing the lighthouse and admiring the view of the Bay of Biscay;
- visiting the Asiatica Museum with its important collection of Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan and Chinese art;
- visiting the Museum of the Sea with its 24 aquariums, sharks and seals; tea time at Merlimont’s where you can sample the famous gateau Basque;
- dining in the old port at the Casa Juan Pedro;
- spending time and money at one of the casinos or enjoying the colourful nightlife;
- and of course relaxing on the beach and admiring the sunset in the evening.