On Your Radar: Biarritz, France

Gorgeous Biarritz, France
Gorgeous Biarritz, France

On Your Radar: Biarritz, France

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

While the cliffside towns of Italy have made a prominent name for themselves, there is no lack of gorgeous beaches and steep coastal bluffs in Biarritz, France. Once a whaling town, Biarritz is now a glamorous holiday destination on the Basque Coast. Located in southwestern France, this cliffside town that was once the vacation spot of Napoléon III is a seaside gem with elegant villas, pristine beaches and a thriving surfing scene.

Rocher de la Vierge (Rock of the Virgin) is a symbol of Biarritz. This large rock formation was once used as a whale watching platform. Today, there is a bridge that connects the rock to the mainland. A statue of the Virgin Mary rests on top. This rock is a spectacular place to look out over the Bay of Biarritz or down to the Côte des Basques. If you look off into the distance, you can just make out the Pyrenees mountains. 

View of the Biarritz Lighthouse

Another superb location for viewing the area is the Biarritz Lighthouse. Located at Pointe Saint-Martin, it has been guiding mariners to the shore since 1834. You’re free to enter and go up the 248 steps to the top to look out over the water. If you would rather not make the climb, visit at sunset and watch the sun slowly sink behind the sparkling water. 

At the height of Biarritz’s popularity among aristocracy and nobility, there was a large Russian population. They created a demand for a place of worship. The Église Russe de Biarritz is a church that was built in Neo-byzantine style. The interior is adorned with icons from St. Petersburg and the church is symbolic of the alliance between France and Russia. 

Perched on the beach is a local jewel, the Casino Municipal. This 1929 art deco building brings guests back in time. Bust out the flapper dresses and fedoras and get ready to venture to the roaring 20s. Spend an evening trying your hand at the slot machines or in a game of blackjack. 

The dreamy Grande Plage beach

While the stunning architecture is surely something to behold, the most fantastic part of Biarritz is by far the beaches. Grande Plage is a postcard-perfect beach that features a golden bay with fine soft sand. Stroll up and down the promenade and enjoy the shops, cafes and restaurants or lounge under a striped beach tent. 

Surfers will especially love La Côte des Basques. It is potentially the birthplace of surfing in Europe. The story goes that in 1957, American Peter Viertel brought his surfboard from California while he was visiting France to film a movie. If surfing is your passion, this is the place to be! If you’d like to learn, there are also several surf schools that offer lessons. Stroll down the boardwalk and grab a drink or a bite to eat, and don’t forget to “basque” in the beauty that surrounds you.

Why go there

Keep Biarritz on your radar for an unforgettable adventure in a stunningly beautiful cliffside town. The beaches are the perfect location for soaking up the sun or hitting the waves. The casino will take you back in time and there are numerous spots to admire the gorgeous landscape. Tucked away in the south of France, there is no better spot to spend your holiday. This trendy resort town is sure to make you fall in love and want to visit over and over again. 

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