Biarritz, France

Basque in the Sun

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After gaining popularity as the seaside resort town favored by French royalty, the village of Biarritz grew increasingly cosmopolitan, attracting international jet setters and gaining a reputation as "the queen of beaches and beach of kings."

Biarritz lies along the Basque coast, adjacent to Spain's Basque region, the influences of which are apparent in Biarritz's architecture and cuisine. A stretch of 5 beaches, each with a distinct history and flavor, comprise Biarritz, including the Cote de Basques Beach, the first European surfing hot spot discovered when American filmmaker Peter Viertel brought a longboard from California and surfed the crashing waves, astonishing locals. Today the beach is home to the internationally renowned Biarritz Surf Festival, which draws more than 150,000 fans to the region.

Among the local attractions is the old whaling port, which is reminiscent of an era when whaling was Biarritz's primary means of commerce, and nearby Port des Pecheurs, a small fishing port. For shopaholics with euros burning a hole in their pockets, the Place Cl��menceau is packed with boutiques catering to the finest styles and tastes. Night owls can play the tables at the City Casino, or shake their groove things at one of the city's funky discotheques.

Getting There
Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne International Airport is 3 kilometers from the town center of Biarritz. The airport is serviced by daily flights from Paris Orly, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Lyon and London.

Airport Transportation
A road shuttle runs from the airport to the Biarritz town center. Taxis are also available.

Timing
Biarritz is a popular destination for international tourists, who flock to the beach during the summer months. The town becomes particularly crowded during the July surf festival, and accommodation prices increase. The climate in Biarritz is always temperate: winters are comfortable (average 50 degrees F), and summers are warm (average 72 degrees F). Biarritz has an average of 61 rainy days per year.

Lodging
The accommodations in Biarritz suit all travelers' needs and budgets, from icons like the Hotel du Palais and other ultra-exclusive 4-star resorts and luxury hotel residences, to youth hostels and campgrounds. For discount accommodations, check out Travel Hotels Europe.

Cuisine
The Basque region of France is a food lover's dream. Regional delicacies include the Bayonne ham, which is dried in a traditional process for 6 months before being eaten; salted cod; eels; squid; and ewe's cheese. Wine aficionados can savor Iroul��guy wine, a locally bottled and popular vintage. All visitors can enjoy decadent chocolates called "tourons." Biarritz abounds with gourmet and casual restaurants, as well as the traditional bodegas.

While you are there
When visitors aren't sunbathing on the beach, they can gain maritime culture from the Mus��e de la Mer, a collection of 24 aquariums teeming with more than 150 varieties of fish and invertebrates native to the Bay of Biscayne, including the saw fish and guitar ray.

To fake that you've been there
Tell friends a tale of how you risked life and limb to see the town's hard-to-reach landmark, the Rock of Madonna, crossing over the bridge built by none other than Gustave Eiffel.

Linking for a better trip
More helpful tourist information can be found here.