Spectacular beaches and an unbeatable foodie scene make Biarritz France the ultimate vacation destination. But with so many things to see and do, where should you start?
One of the best places to start is with a walk on Grande Plage, an idyllic golden beach fringed by high-end buildings. Its soft sand is perfect for a dip or a picnic.
1. Plage de la Cote des Basques
Biarritz’s Grande Plage is a popular destination for sunbathers. This wide, sandy beach is located just a short walk from the city’s center ville.
This beach is a great spot to watch the sunset, and is also a favorite among surfers (you can rent equipment here). It’s one of the first spots where anyone surfed in Europe, making it a classic spot that attracts all kinds of people.
The Plage de la Cote des Basques is also a good choice for families with children as it is very safe and sheltered from winds and waves. It’s a good spot for beginners to start learning to surf as it is relatively easy to navigate and it has good waves.
2. Rocher de la Vierge
Located near the Grande Plage, the Rock of the Virgin is an essential Biarritz attraction. It features a statue of the Virgin on a rock that juts out into the sea.
Legend has it that whalers returning to port were caught in a storm and were saved by a divine light. So, they erected the Virgin cross and statue here to thank her for saving them.
The cliff is topped with an iron bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, and it gives fantastic views of the surrounding coastline, beach and lighthouse. It’s also a great place to watch the sun go down in summer.
You can visit the Rock of the Virgin 24 hours a day, but it’s best to avoid visiting during large storms. It’s free and open to all.
3. Musee de la Mer
Biarritz is known for its pristine beaches, but there’s more to the town than its surf heritage. The Musee de la Mer (Aquarium) is a fascinating place to explore marine life, with exhibits on fishing techniques and whale watching as well as a Shark Tunnel.
You can also visit the Port des Pecheurs, which is home to a row of traditional cottages used by Biarritz fishers in the 1800s. This is a nice alternative to the opulent hotels that line the seafront.
Another great place to take a look back at the city’s history is the Church of Saints Eugenie and Bonaparte. The neo-byzantine chapel was built in 1892 and is a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past. It’s adorned with icons that were transported from St. Petersburg to Biarritz in the days of the Russian aristocracy, who made this the summer palace for their queen.
4. Cite de l’Ocean
Biarritz is an excellent destination for surfers. Its sweeping beaches provide great waves for beginners and experienced surfers alike.
The town’s cosmopolitan character is often seen in its architecture, which often takes inspiration from the sea. One of the most interesting examples is Steven Holl’s Cite de l’Ocean, which is located within an ocean-influenced landscape and intended to raise awareness of the surf’s role in leisure, science and ecology.
Inside the building, the spatial concept “under the sky – under the sea” combines a concave/convex interplay of space. A stepped ramp leads you to the central gathering plaza, cupping a warp of space towards the ocean horizon.
5. Promenade de Biarritz
Biarritz’s wide seafront promenade is a stunning feature of this elegant southwestern French Basque beach town. Well-placed benches and wide paths allow visitors to soak up the stunning natural landscape.
A walk along the waterfront gives first-time visitors a good feel for what makes this legendary beach town so special. Starting at the Port des Pecheurs, this one-km stroll takes you past the Grand Plage (Plage means beach) and out to a rocky outcrop called the Rocher de la Vierge.
From the top of the Rocher de la Vierge, you’ll get a great view of the city. You can climb the 248 steps to the lighthouse if you want to see more, or stay below and enjoy the views of the bay.