Biarritz is a beautiful seaside city on the Bay of Biscay. At once elegant and cool, it has got accessible waves, ample nightlife, and a café culture rich with Basque tapa offerings. A prime summer destination for more than 100 years, it boasts ample shopping, sand beaches, and casinos. Most notably, Biarritz carries the torch as the birthplace of surfing in France and has a cool surfer vibe to go with it. 

Surfers waiting for their wave at Plage de la Côte des Basques

Part of La Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Biarritz is in the southwesternmost part of France set along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrénées mountain range bordering Spain.

We strolled along the beautiful Plage de la Côte des Basques, lined with bars tucked into a mountainous dune and mini surf schools set-up beneath small canopy tents. Bronzed folk arrive by motorcycle or skateboard and set-out to ride the waves, which are several steps below as the embarcadero is set upon a sort of seawall. With the afternoon comes the tide and the sandy beach along with the steps down from the paved walkway wash below the sea.

At once elegant and cool, it has got accessible waves, ample nightlife and a café culture rich with Basque cuisine
 Staying near the Port Vieux allowed us to be central and enjoy Biarritz’s robust aperitif culture — or at least to the best of our ability as my dear partner in travel was recovering from a bout of food poisoning from a mystery omelet between hither and thither. I sipped a refreshing, fruity white wine at La Humade over a plate of grilled trout with a kind of frothy mango and black sesame cream and enjoyed some ham croquettes. Andrew ate a piece of white bread. Sorry, not sorry — my meal was delicious.

The great blue bay and the Pyrénées in the distance

In the evening, the streets bustled with the hum of 14 juillet and a mounting anxiety for the following day’s World Cup final. We sipped more wine and sampled tapas at Le Bar Bu, and thanks to guidance from a local friend, discovered the lively streets of Rue des Halles with patrons drinking and eating as they spilled out into the streets from such hopping establishments as Le Bar Jean.

We were treated to some Bastille Day Fireworks too.

On Sunday morning, following a thunderous night of fireworks and partiers in the streets until dawn, we returned to Rue des Halles to check out the Marché aux Halles de Biarritz. It’s best to come here hungry as in addition to being a food market, there are numerous ready-to-order tapas, pastries, and so much more — even prosciutto in a paper cone! Canelés, local to Bordeaux, sat freshly made injected with tubes of dripping rum! And… they have coffee. It’s a magical place to satiate your appetite and one of the most spectacular food markets I’ve ever visited.

Surrounding the warehouse building which houses the food market is a wide array of textiles, jewelry, and vintage clothing for sale — so many appealing goodies!

I’m already dreaming of my next trip back to Biarritz with hopes of exploring more of its neighboring towns to taste everything this beautiful region has to offer.