Biarritz is a lovely Atlantic coast beach & surf resort, at the South end of the French Landes region – read foie gras and Bordeaux wines – and at the start of the Basque Country – read pintxos and jamon serano.
This week we got variable weather, average surfing conditions, great food and large quantities of wine. As I am writing this, in a café next to the central market, number of barefoot surfers are passing by, board in hand. I’m clearly the only one there sipping coffee, in a place where rosé, champagne and foie gras seem to be acceptable (should I say recommended?) at any time of the day. The “Comptoir du Foie Gras” just never seems to empty.
So I’m happily rocking our espadrilles, running along the beach and trying to alternate walks in the centre and surf sessions with plethora of ice cream, cakes, hot chocolates, wine, tapas, and more wine please?
French Grammar & Surf
As I write this, Partner is at the French school sweating on grammar exercises and hopefully not soaking up too much of the very sing-songy accent of the Basque country…oh well… There are several summer French “schools” in Biarritz, he went for France Langue as they offered a French & Surf option. The grammar level seems to be pretty structured; but we would have been better advised to rent boards by ourselves in the afternoon honestly, the value added of the instructor is close to nil.
I used to come on holiday in Biarritz as a little girl with my parents, and I totally understand why they had this place on their family summer holiday radar. Flocks of French, Spanish and British families seem to have opted in as well. Indeed, the place has the charms of a XIX century beach resort, Spanish laid back attitude, and French food and wine. Best of both worlds? Kids spend most of their time getting exhausted in the waves and parents eating local delicacies. And it has to be said, there’s a lot to eat, drink and discover on the food scene: €3 for a glass of nice Bordeaux wine, €1 per tapas or “pincho” in the central bars (forget beer and imported products though, that could be a steep one). Proper foodies holidays it is.
As well for a French resort, it has to be highlighted that we found a generally welcome attitude towards tourists, even foreign ones; most of the staff in restaurants, hotels and such could speak some English, Spanish and international tourist hand signs, you know, just generally trying to be helpful. Not South East Asian type of service, but still miles and miles away from Paris garçons de cafés.
My top 5 Biarritz places
We’ve spent a happy and full week revolving around a few places:
– “Le Comptoir du Foie Gras“: this place seems to be perpetually full. Maybe it’s the good vibe, or the sought after foie-gras toasts (€2 each)?
– “Le Bar Jean” as well located around the market, and constantly full from late morning till late at night. They have a great choice of tapas and a lovely azulejos decorated sitting room. We never got the patience to wait for a table, so we joined the flow and took our plates outside, standing in the street, but with oysters please.
– “Le cafe du commerce“: booking is necessary in this very busy market brasserie. Fresh products, local specialties and a nicely decorated dining room: I’d go eating again, but I’m not sure I’d ever rent a room, must be so noisy!!
– “Chez Philippe” this was a nice discovery, and I would definitely recommend it for a fancy date or an occasion, or just generally for food lovers. The place is a 20min walk from the centre, and features local art work making it look slightly eccentric.
– Patisserie Miremont & Patisserie Dodin: for an ice cream and cake refill. Dodin is impossible to miss, located on the walk along the central main beach; while the Patisserie Miremont is perfect for a cake stop post museum exhibition. The “Beret Basque” cake won my heart: a bottom biscuit covered with a dome of chocolate mousse…yum.
Both the Casino and the Hotel du Palais also have fancy dining and bar options. The Hotel du Palais is well worth stepping in just for the building, as well it’s one of the best cocktail with a view in town.
In short, there’s something for everyone here: good food, sandy beaches, friendly atmosphere, and beautiful architecture. See you next time Biarritz.