After our wonderful experience in San Sebastian in Spain, we decided to visit the much talked about Biarritz in south-west of France. Biarritz is the capital of the Basque country. It is only 20 kilometres from the Spanish border. Napoleon famously bathed in the sea here in 1808 and by the middle of the 19th century, Biarritz established its reputation as a popular holiday destination which continues to this day and in part now due to its reputation as the surfing capital of France.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at Sofitel Biarritz le Miramar Thalassa Sea & Spa Hotel. The 5-start hotel is an ideal stopover in the Basque Country. We chose this hotel because of its stunning sea views and close proximity to the city centre. All of the main attractions in Biarritz are within a 20-minute radius of the hotel. We were welcomed by friendly staff who greeted us anytime we passed and were extremely helpful with answering any questions we had.
We stayed in the double sea view room where we had our own private terrace overlooking the outdoor heated seawater pool. The room was comfortable with modern style of decor in mostly a neutral colour palette enlivened with occasional drops of fuchsia. I love how bright the room is with floor-to-ceiling windows. Our bathroom was nicely arranged with warm wood flooring and Hermès toiletries.
To make a relaxing stay even more perfect, we treated ourselves to an appointment at the renowned Thalassa Sea & Spa. The spa offers an extensive seawater based treatments that helps to improve health and wellness, reduce ageing, combat cellulite, effect slimming and improve fitness. I saw people of all ages going for treatments and enjoying the spa.
In the morning we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant with an extensive breakfast buffet, composed of a variety of breads and pastries, warm and cold meats, eggs and cereals. We thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast offering as well as the calm and serene views of the outdoor pool and sea in the morning.
7 THINGS TO DO IN BIARRITZ
1. Grande Plage & Plage du Miramar
One of Biarritz’ largest beaches, this beautiful wide sandy beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a refreshing seaside atmosphere. During this time, the beach is covered with sunbathers and colourful striped cabanas. Alongside the beach, the Quai de La Plage promenade is perfect for taking a leisurely scenic stroll. This wide pedestrian walkway offers stunning view of the breaking waves and the Biarritz lighthouse in the distance.
2. Phare de Biarritz
Emblematic of the historic seaside town, the Biarritz lighthouse overlooks the coastline of the Cape Hainsart. You can climb the 248 steps of the lighthouse to take in the scenery from this incredible vantage point. The 73-metre high lighthouse offers exceptional panoramic views of Biarritz and the Basque countryside.
3. Rocher de la Vierge (Virgin of the Rock)
The Rocher de la Vierge named for the statue of the Holy Virgin placed on its summit in 1865. The rock was made accessible to land via a wooden bridge. The wooden bridge didn’t withstand the test of time and was later replaced with an iron bridge that is still in place.
4. Surf Beaches
The Côte des Basques is the most famous surfing beach in Biarritz. The powerful waves provide the ideal conditions for surfing and many competitors are held here. Next to the Côte des Basques, the Plage de Marbella is another favourite of surfers and bodyboarders. If you are beginner, Biarritz is the perfect place to take surfing lessons and learn how to surf!
5. Les Halles
French food markets like this are much more than a place to purchase groceries; they are a social hub and the place to discover the produce and delicacies that the region prides in. Biarritz’ lovely covered market is definitely the place to come for picnic ingredients from cheese, pate, fruits, bread etc.
6. Bar du Marché
Bar du Marché first opened its doors in 1938, this authentic and high quality tapas bar is just next to the market. It also does full means which can be eaten out on the sunny terrace.
7. Chez Albert
If you want your fish fresh off the boat, then Chez Albert is the place to come. You can literally watch the catch being landed straight of the quay here. As you’d expect, the seafood platter is the thing is order – oysters, crab, lobster, langoustines, you name it!