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Biarritz France Guide Biarritz

Biarritz France French Holiday Destinations

Biarritz, or Miarritze, was made into a popular beach resort by Napoléon III and his Spanish wife Eugénie, who brought aristocrats and celebrities with them on holidays here, making Biarritz something of a 19th century Monte Carlo.

Since the 1960s the Cote d'Azur has become ever more popular and Biarritz can seem somewhat jaded in comparison, but there is still plenty of elegance and pizzazz left in the old place yet. Queen Victoria and Edward VII came here, although it is now more popular with surfers and Parisians than monarchs.


Biarritz

As accommodation can be expensive in Biarritz itself, it may be a good idea to stay in Bayonne and travel the couple of miles into Biarritz, but hotels aren't all that exclusive when you look at prices on the Cote d'Azur, for example. Hôtel Atalaye at 6 rue des Goélands (05 59 24 06 76) offers good value and quiet rooms from €35 45, or the Maison Garnier at 29 rue Gambetta (05 59 01 60 70) has rooms in a refurbished bourgeois house from €75 90.

Biarritz airport information http://www.biarritz.aeroport.fr/http://www.biarritz.aeroport.fr/

Other restored sights of interest include the Casino Municipal behind the Grande Plage, a model of 1930s extravagance and the centre of attention in town. The nicest streets for a meander are between the casino and the old port to the west, and Miremont's Salon de Thé on place Clemenceau offers the chance to imagine yourself as one of the moneyed casino dwellers of the early 20th century.

All the faded charm of Biarritz is compensated by the beautiful shoreline, however, with the sandy beaches and white horses collapsing onto the shore next to the bronzing holidaymakers, behind which rises up the medley of buildings in town. The plage du Port Vieux is the nicest beach as it provides the most shelter and more friendly setting. The Rocher de la Vierge is close by, a rock in the sea with a white statue of the Virgin on top. The Grande Plage by the casino is a wider stretch of sand and was nicknamed the 'plage des fous' after mental patients were taken there as part of their therapy in the 1850s.

The rue du Port Vieux has some very touristy snack bars but better places to eat are Le St Amour, 26 rue Gambetta, in the style of a Lyon restaurant, or the Bistrot des Halles at 1 rue du Centre with fish dishes from €17 (05 59 24 21 22). Steak and chips types should head to Le Surfing behind plage de la Cote des Basques, if they don't mind sharing their eating space with old surfboards.