Always lively, Biarritz is a beautiful seaside resort on the Atlantic coast, nestled in the Bay of Biscay in south-west France. Biarritz enjoys an exceptional climate: a mild winter and a pleasant summer with an average temperature of 20°C.
It was the mildness of its climate that decreed the town’s success in the second half of the 19th century, when Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie made it their favourite holiday resort. Since then, the town has become the emblem of chic tourism and a paradise for surfers from all over the world, thanks to the high waves that crash on its beaches.
Biarritz is undoubtedly an oceanfront jewel that deserves to be discovered in all seasons: surfing and beach life, museums, walks, casinos and thalassotherapy are some of the activities to do in this corner of the Atlantic Pyrenees.
When one thinks of the Basque Country, Biarritz immediately springs to mind. Long loved by French royalty, the city has become a popular tourist destination.
From the great beach to the Rock of the Virgin, passing by the lighthouse, the covered market, the Museum of the Sea or the City of the Ocean, there are many corners to discover in Biarritz.
Located on the waterfront, the Port des Pêcheurs is an unchanging place that has retained its original charm. Here you can discover the famous crampottes, or fishermen’s houses that line the sea, made even more picturesque by the presence of the old coloured boats.
In summer, when tourists flock to the beaches of Biarritz, the fishermen’s port is an oasis of tranquillity. It is also a must-see for its retro-style charm, combining traditional cottages and restaurants offering excellent fish and seafood dishes.
The Imperial Chapel was built in 1864 at the request of Empress Eugenia. This fascinating building in Roman-Byzantine and Hispano-Moorish style was dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, the black Mexican virgin.
The guided tour will take you back in time and discover the oldest Biarritz.
An emblematic symbol of Biarritz, the Rocher de la Vierge is the result of a successful combination of wild nature and human technology. In fact, the designers braved the bad weather of the sea to make the rock accessible and place the statue of the Virgin watching over the coast, sailors and visitors. The project was born in 1865, at the request of fishermen to thank the Virgin Mary after a mysterious light brought a whaling ship to safety during a storm.
Crossing the footbridge built by Gustave Eiffel and braving the sea spray, your lungs will fill with iodised air and your eyes with a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. Before you, the whole varied beauty of the Basque coast will open up, with a panorama stretching from the lighthouse in the north to the slopes of the Pyrenees in the south. An absolutely unmissable walk.
Built at the end of Pointe Saint-Martin, on the old Cap Hainsart in 1834, this superb 19th-century building, gleaming white, soars 73 metres into the air. If you wish to undertake its ascent, you will have to tackle no less than 248 steps. But the effort will be rewarded: from its top you can admire a fabulous panorama of the ocean and mountains, from the south of the Landes to the Basque coast. However, we advise claustrophobic people to refrain, as the narrowness of the stairs could make the climb very difficult.
Even today, the lighthouse still plays its role as a maritime guide and carefully watches over the different districts of the city.
Basque gastronomy is rich in flavours that reveal in a few mouthfuls all the character of the region. Pepper from Espelette, veal axoa, Bayonne ham or Basque cake: you will find all these specialities in Les Halles de Biarritz. This large market is divided into two buildings, the first of which houses the fishmongers’ stalls while the second is reserved for food traders.
In a colourful and lively atmosphere, you can also eat right there, in the numerous bars and restaurants lining the visitors’ route. In this way, you can sample Basque cuisine, famous for its pintxos, the equivalent of Spanish tapas, prepared on the spot.
A stone’s throw from the Grande Plage and its Casino Barrière, you will find a belvedere that defies the rushing waves of the ocean. The Atalaye plateau is a true geological curiosity, the result of the sea’s formidable erosion work on the cliffs.
Accessible on foot, this rocky outcrop offers a panoramic view of the surroundings while allowing visitors to fully measure the force of the waves. When you feel the force and sound of the sea beneath your feet, you will immediately understand why surfers come to the beaches of the Basque coast for the big thrill.
Housed in a beautiful Art Deco building, the Maritime Museum features an exhibition of fifty aquariums and thousands of species. Don’t miss the seal tank or the shark cave. Specialised in the fauna and flora of the Bay of Biscay, it presents more than 150 species of fish and invertebrates.
Recently, the Maritime Museum doubled its exhibition area to include the Gulf Stream areas from the Bay of Biscay to the Caribbean and Pacific Seas. During the visit, you can admire a Caribbean lagoon, a coral reef and giant tanks housing sharks, rays, barracudas and tropical fish.
For the little ones, we recommend the touch tank and the seal feeding time show, daily at 10.30 am and 5 pm.
The Ocean City is a space dedicated to discovering the big blue. A unique opportunity to learn more about the ocean. Thanks to a playful and original set-up, you will find the answer to your most common questions. Where does ocean water come from? How do waves come into being? Did Atlantis really exist? Would we be here without the ocean? Is it in danger today?
You can descend into the abyssal depths of the Bay of Biscay aboard a bathyscaphe, find yourself in the middle of an ocean storm, visit the wheelhouse of a beached ship, meet a giant squid and hear the secrets of the ocean from the words of experts and teachers.
But the most popular part for all visitors is undoubtedly Virtual Surf, a simulation game: thanks to the use of advanced and sophisticated technology, you can surf a wave on the Basque coast, on the vertiginous Belharra and in the perfect tube of Mundaka. An extraordinary and immersive experience. Virtual Surf is the result of three cutting-edge technologies: YouRiding, the reference board sports game on the Internet, acclaimed for its realism, Oculus Rift the new virtual reality mask that allows 3D spatialisation and Kinect, the camera that detects the player’s body movements in order to direct the character.
The Asiatica Museum is an opportunity to discover Asian art in a bewitching atmosphere where a sweet scent of the Orient reigns.
The exhibits cover 4,000 years of history according to geographical regions and are organised in such a way that you can discover the different cultures present in a vast and varied area. Thanks to detailed information sheets, the visitor can contextualise the works according to period and learn about the cultures, arts and religions of Asia through extraordinary works.
From India to China, via Tibet and Nepal, the collections bring together all the riches of Asia. The Asiatica Museum is a unique place where you will discover more than 1,000 works: it is one of five major European museums dedicated to Asian arts.
You can’t come to Biarritz without spending a few hours at its beautiful beaches: it’s the promised land of surfers. There are no fewer than 18 surfing schools scattered along the coast waiting for beginners and experts alike from April to November.
La Grande Plage10, in the heart of the city, between the Hôtel du Palais and the Bellevue, is an ideal place for surfing in Biarritz: the waves here are particularly good and easy to surf, accessible to all levels. The beach is also fabulous for those who do not practice this sport: you will have a magnificent view of the architecture of Biarritz and can sunbathe in total realax.
The Cote des Basques11 beach is not only the largest in the area, but has been voted the most beautiful beach in France several times , a little paradise for lovers of long sunny siestas. The Côte des Basques is accessible to all levels. In fact, beginners can practice in the northern part, where the waves are slower, while experts will find their happiness towards the centre of the beach, where the waves intensify and get bigger.
Plage de Marbella12 is one of the most popular spots and hosts several major surfing events each year, such as the famous Wheels and Waves. For surfing, this beach is only recommended for experienced surfers, as it is exposed to swells and strong currents. It is therefore preferable to know this stretch of sea well or to be an experienced surfer before jumping into the water.
Plage Milady 13 is also fabulous for surfing: it allows athletes of all levels to practice in a magical environment. This spot is particularly popular with bodyboarders who find a powerful shore break there. Thanks to its exposure, the beach withstands the swell relatively well, which means there are always waves to surf. In particular, the best spots are to the left, at the level of the large rock, and to the right, north of the beach.
Plage de Miramar 14 is less crowded, as it is frequented almost exclusively by experienced surfers. In fact, the presence of a dangerous rocky seabed makes it accessible only to medium-high level surfers.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Situated between the Grande Plage and the Plage de Marbella, on a ledge where the Rocher de la Vierge overlooks the sea, the city centre is the best place to sleep in Biarritz to visit everything on foot. Ideal for shopping and contemplating the city’s historical architecture, the centre is made up of vast pedestrian spaces, with many bars and restaurants, especially along rue Mazagran and rue du Port-Vieux . In terms of accommodation, the district offers many prestigious hotels, flats and waterfront villas, but prices can be quite high.
To stay in Biarritz in a different atmosphere from that of seaside tourism, we recommend Saint-Charles, a district located behind the Hôtel du Palais, a real village in the city. The neighbourhood is distinguished by the presence of the Orthodox church, built in the Byzantine style in the last years of the 19th century, testifying to the influx of wealthy Russians who once settled there. Those who choose this corner will want to find a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, north of Avenue Reine Victoria.
Lying around the avenue Beau Rivage, the Négresse neighbourhood borders the Beaurivage neighbourhood, which overlooks the Côte des Basques: for a long time it was Biarritz’s working-class neighbourhood. Today, the atmosphere remains very colourful and it is close to the SNCF station, not far from the Biarritz Pays Basque airport. It is the right place to choose if you are looking for peace and quiet: there are few bars and restaurants here but the area is close to the city’s green lung, which includes Lake Mouriscot, surrounded by a 110-hectare wooded area, and Lake Marion, in the middle of a ten-hectare park with oaks, pines and willows. These two lakes are frequented by families and sports enthusiasts in an environment preserved from urbanisation and city centre tourism.
Apart from Biarritz airport, the nearest airports are Bordeaux or Toulouse Airport. You then have to continue by train via TGV or TER network: 2 hours from Bordeaux, 2½ hours from Toulouse and 4 hours from Paris.
The best solution is still to rent a car, so that you can also enjoy the many places of interest around Biarritz.
What's the weather at Biarritz? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Biarritz for the next few days.
Located very close to the Spanish border, on the Basque coast in the south-west of France, Biarritz is a popular holiday destination.