A friend of us ( surf dude kinda guy ) went to Biarritz several times and he always had good stories about it, so we wanted to check it out ourselves. Well, lets say we totally understand where he is talking about, because Biarritz is a great place for a chill holiday!
Once the perfect holiday destination for Napoleon lll and his Spanish-born wife Eugenie, now a glamorous, but laid back surfer’s hang out. The perfect mix between elegance, art deco design, surfboards and wet suits.
But there is more to this South West French gem. The famous 6 kilometers of sandy beaches, small cosy streets to get lost in, thriving surf scene and even therapeutic water make this hot spot a unique getaway.
Biarritz visitors are a mix between posh and famous and laid back surfers or city trippers. There are massive houses, expensive boutiques and wellness resorts, but also easy-going surfers hang outs, shops, chill restaurants and the best ice-cream at T Xoko Glace.
When we were walking past, the que in front of T Xoko Glace was never-ending, and people kept on lining up, so we knew we would be in for a special treat, and they didn’t dissapoint!
Where to stay in Biarritz
There are several camping places in Biarritz and of course many hotels and other accommodations, but we wanted a place close to the beach and nothing to flashy or expensive, as we love the simple things and rather spend our money on more trips or good food during our holidays than over-expensive campings where we probably stay with a dozen or two other dutch people ( something we try to avoid when travelling )
Pavilion Royale is a great camping to stay if you want to stay in between Biarritz and Bidart ( smaller place connected to Biarritz and also a great place to be! ) They have places with direct Ocean access.
Our plan was to drive to Pavilion Royale, but on our way to the Southern part of Biarritz we bumped into a camper parking called Malady, in the same-named area of Biarritz.
Located less than 5 minutes from the beach and about 20 minutes walk to the heart of Biarritz and only 12 Euro per night including power and water, we decided this would be all we need, as we would only sleep there and spend our time in Biarritz discovering and relaxing on the beach.
Beaches in Biarritz
Biarritz is famous for its 6 kilometre stretch of beaches and its surf. From our camper parking at Malady we could walk along the most famous Biarritz Beaches. Here are the most popular ones we discovered ourselves.
Grande Plage ( Large beach )
The Grande Plage is the main beach of Biarritz. It is located in the heart of Biarritz, close to shopping areas, bars and restaurants. The Grande Plage starts at the Hôtel du Palais at the North side of Biarritz.
When we were in Biarritz in the last week of May, we were lucky to witness the Isa World Surfing Games. There were a lot of people around and also many security and police officers.
This was something we noticed in France in general. Everywhere around big events and major cities there are many police officers with heavy guns all over. Sad it has to be like that these days, but it is for our own safety.
The event went by cheerful and relaxed and we could enjoy the surfing competition from the beach, while Sem was enjoying himself running around and building sand castles.
Plage Port Vieux
This small beach is located next to the Old Port. It is sheltered from the wind and waves as it is located in a little bay and therefore has some of the best conditions for swimming and sunbathing without getting sand stormed. Plage Port Vieux is also really close to the center of Biarritz and is surrounded by some really nice cafe-restaurants build on rocks.
Plage de la Côte des Basques
The Plage de la Côte des Basques is the main surfing beach of Biarritz. This beach is framed with cliffs and during high tide the beach completely disappears under the water, which is perfect for the surfers in Biarritz. When we walked along the Plage de la Cote des Basques it was full of surfers trying to catch that perfect wave. You can walk along Plage de la Cote des Basques via the upper way, which gives you beautiful far away ocean views, or via the lower way, where you have a better view of the surfers.
The beach closest to our camper parking was Plage Milady. Located in the Southern part of Biarritz, this big sandy beach was a stone trow away from our camper spot. This beach is not only popular by the camper travellers but also by the locals, especially families with children as there is lots of space and parking in the neighbourhood as well.
Things to do in Biarritz
Not only has Biarritz some amazing beaches, great cafe’s and restaurants, but we discovered also some great other things to do:
Hôtel du Palais
In the middle of the 19th century when wife of Napoleon III, Spanish-born Eugenia de Montijo, discovered Biarritz, she fell in love with it.
She decided it would be the perfect place to build a sea-side palace to use as a summer residence.
This is when Hôtel du Palais was born. After a long story of history, it was sold and transformed into a luxurious hotel. Which it still is today. You can walk around the gardens or just enjoy the beautiful building from a distance.
The Fishermen Port was built in 1870 for inshore fishermen to load and unload their boats. Today, the Fishermen Port is a cute little area with a bunch of restaurants in the picturesque fishermen’s houses. If you want to eat fresh fish or seafood, this is definitely the best place to do it.
Rock of the Virgin
The Rock of the Virgin (“Rocher de la Vierge” in French) is connected to the mainland via a bridge. The bridge crosses over the water and partly through the rock that was carved out. When you walk along the ocean from the Southern part of Biarritz ( Malady ) to the Northern part of Biarritz, you will come across it.
( Rue du ) Port-Vieux
Until the middle of the 19th century, Biarritz main centre was located around the Port Vieux. There are some amazing historical buildings here and small cosy streets filled with little cafe’s and restaurants. If you walk all the way through Rue du Port Vieux, you come across some nice boutiques and other shops as well.
How to get to Biarritz
With two airports (Biarritz- Pays Basque airport, conveniently near the CITY-center and being 20 minutes from the Spanish San Sebastian airport, Biarritz is connected to most of the main European cities.
It is a great city trip destination for people looking for nice weather, good food, beaches, and a mix between upscale and laid back atmosphere.
We traveled to Biarritz with our camper from the Netherlands via the West Coast of France. We made a stop at Le Mont Saint Michel. Definitely worth visiting. Read about it here
Mix up Spanish and French culture
Biarritz is located just 35 kilometers from the border with Spain. In a short hour drive you can visit the beautiful city of San Sebastian. And when you add another hour you can visit the Spanish gem of Bilbao or head out to Gaztelugatxe. We did them all 3, and where quite surprised by the beauty of the Spanish Nord West Coast.
You can combine Biarritz and San Sebastian or Bilbao perfectly with a rental car as they are all close together and the roads are in good condition.
So, as you can read there is so much to do in and around Biarritz, you can spend weeks around here. So don’t hesitate any longer and make Biarritz your next getaway!