Welcome to Biarritz!
An interesting place, Biarritz, France, is one of those places where if you didn’t know it was there, it might miss your radar. Located on the Atlantic coast of the country, this humble little town was once a fishing village with its focus set on whaling. As the story goes, it was discovered in the 1850s by the wife of Napoleon III. The couple loved it so much, they built an extravagant summer home in the area that was essentially nothing but sand dunes. Since then, Biarritz has become a vacation destination for French aristocrats, European entrepreneurs, Hollywood Celebrities, and wealthy vacationers alike.
Biarritz, much like the ocean, has had an ebb and flow when it comes to its popularity. A worldwide local knows, however, that the popularity of a city doesn’t matter because it’s more about the experiences it offers.
There’s a reason why Biarritz has been such a popular spot for vacationers since the 19th century, and that reason is simple. It is absolutely beautiful! Between the Biarritz weather and the local beaches, you can’t go wrong. The beach stretches for miles, with grand buildings and hotels dotting the coastline--so your first stop in Biarritz should be the beach. Spend the afternoon lounging in the soft sand, working on your tan, or enjoying the water. Even just a stroll along the famous beach offers great sightseeing, like the Hotel du Palais, which was built for Empress Eugenie in 1855.
Worldwide Local Tip: When in Biarritz: surf! The city is known for some of the best surfing in Europe. If you’re an experienced surfer, you’ll love the waves here, but even if you’re not, lessons are offered on the beach practically every day. Rent a board, then surf some of the best waves around.
Biarritz on a Budget
Biarritz was always known as a place of glitz and glamor, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some of the most down-to-earth people here. Head over to the Port Des Pecheurs to spend some time with the real locals of Biarritz. The area was built by Napoleon III for the fishermen of Biarritz. The humble little cottages are built over the high walls of the harbor. These cute cottages are home to locals, and also house some amazing seafood restaurants.
Worldwide Local Tip: The beautiful Museé de la Mer (Museum of the Sea) is located nearby, as well, and there is a wonderful scenic walk from the museum to the Port Des Pecheurs. The museum is really more of an aquarium, but it is a great way to spend an afternoon learning about local sea life.
Living like Royalty in Biarritz
You might not be able to afford a stay in one of the most expensive Biarritz hotels, like the luxurious and historic Hotel du Palais, but you can visit! The building was built in honor of Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie. Effectively, this building became the reason Biarritz has grown to what it is today. After a fire, a war, and few years of disrepair, the grand hotel was rebuilt a few times, but still retains its “Belle Epoque” style. Royalty from all over Europe stayed here as well as actors and singers like Frank Sinatra. A worldwide local likes to splurge a little from time to time. Book a spa treatment or sip a cocktail at the bar. For those who can afford it, the going price of a room is around 500 Euros per night.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re feeling lucky, head to the casino, built in 1929. The casino has mostly high rollers, but just checking it out and maybe playing some slots can still be a lot of fun for a traveler who’s not looking to drop hundreds of dollars on a hand of poker. Admire the art-deco skylights and elaborate floor mosaics--just don’t miss your flight from Biarritz Airport in the morning!
A worldwide local knows that watching where the locals go, is the best way to get a feel for a city, even if that city is mostly filled with extravagantly rich tourists. Visiting Les Halles de Biarritz is a great, cost-effective way to experience a little local life. The market is open daily from 7:30 am to 2 pm, and if you’re not in the money spending mood, you can sit around or order a light breakfast and watch the locals do their thing.
Worldwide Local Tip: Buy some local cheese, freshly baked bread, and maybe a little wine, then head to the beach just outside and enjoy a picnic. Easily the most affordable meal you can have, it’s a little like camping Biarritz.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Biarritz may have hit its prime some time ago, but the absolutely beautiful buildings from the early 20th century will transport you back in time to the roaring 20s. Witness the gorgeous scenery of the Atlantic Ocean off the Bay of Biscay, one sight no worldwide local should miss.