Biarritz Visitor Guide

BIARRITZ - OUT & ABOUT


Beaches
Biarritz boasts two enormous beaches – miles of golden sand caressed, and sometimes pounded, by the Atlantic. The sea seems to change colour from aquamarine to bright blue to green and back again throughout the day.

The Grande Plage is the largest and most fashionable of Biarritz’s beaches, and is overlooked by the Municipal Casino. To the north it becomes Plage Miramar. To the south, Plage du Port Vieux is sheltered by two overhanging cliffs; it is a small family beach and a local favourite. Plage de la Côte des Basques is the most exposed, and is best surfing beach.

Finding Accommodation

Alternative Aquitaine is a regional holiday rental specialist offering a wide selection of accommodation in Biarritz and the surrounding area including exciting contemporary apartments and villa rentals including villas with pools and luxury villa rentals.  

Get in touch now - we have a selection of accommodation in Biarritz to suit every requirement! 

Call us on +44(0)1395 576655 or send us a mail to tell us what you're looking for.

Alex, Justin & Bethan are here to help you find your perfect accommodation....


Activities
Biarritz is reknown for its reliable surf and has been hosting world pro events for decades. There are plenty of surf schools in Biarritz and Anglet, such as Plums Surf School and Biarritz Paradise Surf School. Take a look, also, at our Surfing in Aquitaine page for more details and also our Biarritz Directory.

The Biarritz Surf Festival and International Longboard Competition (Surf Festival) is held in July each year.

There are several golf courses in and around Biarritz. It is here in the south west where French golf began and there's now a dozen quality courses. Take a look at our Golf in Aquitaine page for more details and also our Biarritz Directory. Whilst a relatively new pastime in France, golf has been around in the Basque Country since the 19th century and you won’t find the course snobbery here that you can experience on the Côte d’Azur.

Thalassotherapy – the Greeks and Romans swore by the healing properties of sea baths, mud and seaweed, steam and massages, hot and cold. Supposedly great cures for being run-down, anxious, and heavy-legged. 

Maybe you want to catch the rugby while you’re in Biarritz – they regularly feature in the Heineken Cup, and often spoil the progress of our boys from Blighty. Biarritz play at the Parc des Sports d’Aguilera, a huge sports complex also featuring tennis courts and a Basque pelota court.

Cyclists of all levels will love the area. You can potter around the pine forest, boardwalk and town on city bikes or hire mountain bikes and take a guided off-road tour in the Basque country - Bike Atlantic can help with both. The truly dedicated will bring their own road bikes and try the Pyrenean training routes of local pros like David Millar!

Children’s Tourist Attractions
The best view of the town is from the Phare de Biarritz (open Sat-Sun 3-7pm), the 240ft lighthouse to the north of the beach. The 248 steps are worth it for the glorious sight of golden beaches and the grand Pyrenees.

Visiting La Rocher de la Vierge can be a great adventure. From Fisherman’s Wharf on the great bay, you can cross a bridge to the huge rock with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Be warned, you may have to fight the wind and spray of the Atlantic!

In terms of conventional ‘tourist attractions’ there are some visits worth considering:
Biarritz 'Musée de la Mer' Aquarium (also, across the border, San Sebastian Aquarium). The Musée de la Mer is a four-storey Art Deco museum that illustrates the town’s whaling past and includes a spectacular aquarium. There’s a shark cave, the chance to see resident seals being fed, and a whole room devoted to regional birds.

We dare say your kids might enjoy a visit to the Biarritz Chocolate Museum too!

La Petite Train de la Rhune – funicular train to the peak of La Rhune (starts at Ascain).

Les Grottes de Betharram – guided tours of the caves under the Pyrénées. 

Shopping
Biarritz’s shops and boutiques are crammed with fashion names. Wealthy residents and tourists ensure that the shopping rates amongst the best in France. 

The hub of Biarritz is Les Halles, where the locals meet, greet, trade, gossip, laugh and joke. Enormous fruit and an amazing array of different fish!

Eating Out
When you're self-catering, it's part of the holiday to eat out from time to time. And in Biarritz it's not difficult to eat well. The town offers a good mix of brasseries, bistros and more formal dining. There is also a good blend of French, south western and the more local, Basque, cuisine on offer. Seafood is, not surprisingly, something of a speciality here.

For eating out, the beach offers several tiny crêperie cabins and ice-cream stalls, all of a pretty good standard. The Port des Pêcheurs is particularly good for tapas bars. 

Over the years, a few venues have emerged as favourites for clients - and for us! The best recommendations come from the owners we work with who live in the town - their favourite restaurants are shown in red. 

We hope you find this guide helpful. We've also *highlighted* the restraurants that specialise in local (Basque or Gascon) cuisine.

The list has been compiled with the help of the Lonely Planet Guide (South West France)The Green Guide (Atlantic Coast) and the Cadogan Guides – “Bilbao & The Basque Lands” is the one to buy.

Budget

Tikia, 1 Place Ste-Eugenie - meaning "small" in Basque, Tikia is indeed snug! Nicely decorated to a nautical theme, it's great for big and tasty snacks including monster brochettes.

*Bar Jean*, 5 rue des Halles - the Basque country is great for tapas and Bar Jean is a fine choice for sampling authentic food. Near to the covered market place, Bar Jean is normally very lively and full of Basque charm right down to its posters of bullfighting heroes.

*Comme à la Maison*, 14 avenue de Verdun - traditional dishes are served in this character restaurant with its old stone walls, wooden beams and brocantes.

La Pizzeria des Arceaux, 20-24 avenue Édouard-VII - if, like us, you consider a pizza to be compulsory eating on holiday, then this is an ideal venue to head to. It has a lively ambience and is popular with Biarritz's young and fashionable crowd. The desserts are very large indeed.

Bistrot des Halles, rue du Centre - popular bistro in the heart of the town near to the covered market. Crowded with market stallholders at lunch and again in the evening with locals and tourists. Great value fixed menus.

Moderate

Chez Albert, Port des Pêcheurs - a locals' favourite, this lively Basque restaurant has a great view of the fishing port and bistro-style ambience. Great seafood.

*Le Bistroye*, 6 rue Jean-Bart - a celebration of the Basque country. Imposing fireplace, beams and posters depicting local life of the Basques. Tapas and local dishes a speciality.

LaBaleak, 8 rue de Centre in the Halles district. "Stylish and always full. The decor is smart 'brocante/chiné' style. The food is excellent and also extremely good value for the 3 course fixed menu. We thought it was absolutely delicious with a great atmosphere and will definitely be trying it again" - thank you to Cathy King for that contribution. Baleak Restaurant Biarritz

La Concha, Plage de la Barre next to the ice-skating rink ("patinoire") - seafood is a speciality at this modest-looking establishment near the port at Bayonne/Anglet.

Coté Océan, 3 Esplanade du Port Vieux 05 59 24 17 70 Fish specialities.

Le Saint Amour, 26 rue Gambetta. Menus between €15 and €30. The Smith family (2010) said "We had a particularly good meal (here) - great value - delicious special of the day."

*Le Surfing*, Plage de la Cote des Basques - every visit to Biarritz should involve surfing, but if you don't take to the water, the next best thing is to soak up some surfing vibes in this lively brasserie. Fixed price menus and à la carte Basque specialities are available.The interior is a homage to surfing, packed full of memorabilia and surfboards. There's also great views of the surf from the decked terrace.

La Tantina de la Playa, Plage du Centre, Bidart - another surfer destination but this time in neighbouring Bidart (3 kms down the coast). Good views of the beaches and glorious surf plus a pleasant, laid-back atmosphere.

*L'Operne*, 17 avenue Édouard-VII - restaurant with a fine history of hosting European aristocracy; the building is one of the oldest in the town. Basque cuisine and seafood again a speciality. Sea views.

*Le Clos Basque*, 12 rue Louis Barthou - this authentic Spanish-style bistro is best left to those who really want to indulge in country food. Pigs trotters are not for the faint-hearted.

*Chez de Bonnes Choses*, avenue Verdun - family-run restaurant.

*L'Auberge*, 22 rue du Harispe - good introduction to the cuisine of Gascony - especially if you choose the menu de terroir. The fragrant terrace is a fine spot for dining alfresco. Closed for lunch and on Sunday in offf-season.

Bleu Cargo, Villa Itsasoan, avenue Il'Barritz - lovely beachside location at Ilbarritz, 2 kms south of Biarritz town centre. The grilled fish is superb.
La Plancha, avenue Il'Barritz (next door to Bleu Cargo) and a similar proposition.
Auberge d'Achtal, Arcangues (small village 5kms into the countryside).
Expensive

*Café de Paris*, 5 Place Bellevue - stylish brasserie specialising in south western cuisine. The crab and lobster are reputed to be the best in town.

*Campagne et Gourmandise*, 52 avenue Alan Seeger, Château de Claire de Lune (a Basque farmhouse a couple of kms outside the town centre) - worth the trip not only for the country food (such as pigeon tart and foie gras) but for the outstanding views of the Pyrénées.

Goulue, 3 rue Etienne Ardoin - classical restaurant in the character of Belle Epoque Biarritz. Seafood specialities include baby squid.

Philippe, 30 avenue du Lac Marion - contemporary dining provided by a protégé of the local legend Alain Ducasse who has opened a new restaurant inland at Bidarray. Informal atmosphere, a tight but varied menu and a good wine list to boot.

Michelin Stars

La Rotonde, Hôtel du Palais - luxurious dining is ensured in the domed dining room of this palatial hotel orginally built for the Emperess Eugénie by her hubby, Napoleon III. Great sea views. Strictly special occasion stuff for most of us!

*Les Platanes*, 32 avenue Beausoleil - run by Arnaud Daguin, son of the locally revered André. Don't come here expecting a long list of choices; the waiter will tell you what's available, you choose the dish and the chef does the rest. Lovely old Basque farmhouse in a quiet corner of town. Foie gras is a speciality and the the cuisine is resolutely Gascon. 

La Table des Freres Ibarbooure Maricharenia, chemin de Ttaliena, Guéthary (on the road to St Jean de Luz)

Also, we cam across an article in Destination France magazine Spring 2012, written by Gillian Thornton who recommends these eateries...

Le Caritz, Place du Port Vieux - Basque specialities, seafood and grills
Le Corsaire, Allee Port des Pecheurs - seafood, overlooking the historic fishing harbour
Ahizpak, Avenue de Verdun - popular bistro run by 4 sisters
Jerome, Avenue de Verdun - "scrumptious" ice creams and sorberts made from natural ingredients
Le Comptoir du Foie Gras, rue du Centre - tapas bar and deli
Miremont, Place Georges clemenceau - elegant team room in "glorious Belle Epoque surroundings"

Nightlife
The Art Deco Casino Municipal contains a hall full of 180 fruit machines, a table games room (roulette, Black Jack), a café giving onto la Grande Plage, as well as a disco, a show room, and a ballroom!

As well as the casino, there is also a disco at Le Caveau, which is open until dawn, with a trendy bar upstairs (4 rue Gambetta).

The Irish Pub (10 Avenue Victor Hugo) is always lively, and a good place to catch giant screenings of sporting events - good for big rugby games.

La Santa Maria (Esplanade du Port-Vieux) gives great views of the Rocher de la Vierge, and the Port Vieux beach. It is a charming bar carved into a boulder.

La Marine (28 Rue Mazagram) has a young crowd, and is on a lively street.

Le Surfing, 9 Boulevard Prince des Galles, offers stunning mountain views from a popular surfers' hang-out.

Red Café, 9 ave du Maréchal Foch.

Arts & Culture
The main theatre in Biarritz is the Gare du Midi, hosting daily shows including plays, rock concerts and ballet. 
21 ave du Maréchal Foch (daily tickets available from the Tourist Office). There is also a show room at the Casino de Biarritz, for theatre and dance.

There are frequent international exhibitions in Biarritz (see Art and Media Festivals in Biarritz). The tourist information office has leaflets called Kulturaldia giving details of current activities, and also offers a ticketing service. Look out for the Classical Music Festival in the first half of September and the Latin American Film Festival also normally in September.

Asiatica (also known as La Musée de l’Art Oriental), 1 Rue Guy Petit, has over 1000 works of art from China, Tibet, India and Nepal.

Also worth a visit is the Musée de Vieux Biarritz, Rue Broquelis. Set in a former church, this is a small exhibition of photos and mementos of Biarritz in earlier times.

For architecture across a wide range of eras, there are wonderful and eclectic examples of villas in Biarritz. Art Nouveau, neo-Moorish and Anglo-Norman, it’s all here. The streets Avenue Edward Vii and Avenue Reine Victoria are the best places to go villa-spotting. The resort flourished in the 1920s and 1930s, as can be seen from the Art Deco Casino Municipal - right on the Grande Plage.

Nature
Parc Florenia (between St-Jean-de-Luz and Urrugne) is a delightful floral park and woodland, recommended to visitors who would appreciate botanical gardens.

Excursions
For day trips to explore the region, there’s a number of other resorts, towns and villages worth visiting. 

In the French Basque Country, there's St Jean de LuzBayonne, Bidart & Guethary and the pretty villages of SareAinhoaAscain and Espelette.

The proximity of Spain is a real bonus. A day in San Sebastian sampling its beaches, shopping and superb cuisine is a must. There’s the Guggenheim museum in the up-and-coming Bilbao, plus the infamous streets of Pamplona to explore.

For further tourist information about the area beyond Biarritz, please browse our region guides for the France Basque Coast and Pyrénées.

Travel advice
Lastly, here’s a few words of travel advice when you’re holidaying in Biarritz…

Parking is very difficult in July and August especially. There's a train station in the town served by SNCF with regular connections to St Jean de Luz and beyond, including Spain.

The main route north-south (RN10) is best avoided in the summer, particularly on Saturdays. You’ll soon discover the back roads and miss the worst of the traffic. 
 
 

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