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Exploring France’s basque country – Biarritz part I

Exploring France’s basque country – Biarritz part I
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I have a confession to make! I have cheated! I have cheated on my beloved city London, because I fell… I fell head over heels in love with a beautiful and elegant seaside town on southwestern France’s Basque coast. The town is called Biarritz! You might have heard about it, and if not – now is the time! (Warning – you might get tempted to cheat too!) 

This was my first time in Biarritz! I have been to Nice and Cannes before.  All great places without a doubt – but nothing beats Biarritz, when it comes to French seaside beauty 

Biarritz is a funny little town. The first thing that struck me was, that the city seems divided. You can enjoy luxurious life on expensive coastal resorts – or you can choose to “chill” at more down to earth surfer’s hang-out places.

Here I am – a happy camper at Hotel and Spa Le Regina Biarritz. Quite impressive, right?

As Frenchie and I had been on a road trip the last couple of days and were a bit tired, we decided to go all in on luxury. Hotels in Biarritz do not come cheap – but if you make an effort, you might just get lucky to get a good deal online!

We had a classic double room with a balcony at La Regina. I was very pleased  with the big and beautiful bathroom (with bathrobes for him and her to use at the spa or the pool) Another thing that is important for me is the size of the bed – and this one was perfect for two tall people, who love a lot of space, when sleeping

No doubt, that I really enjoy all the luxury that comes with choosing an upscale hotel – but I think the most important thing for us was, that we were very close to the sea! Living in London you don’t get to see a lot of “blue” – and having been brought up at a danish countryside, where the sea was only 10 km away, this was exactly what I needed to make me feel right at home (with much better weather!)

5 mins walk from our hotel I had my first encounter with the Atlantic Coast!

Biarritz is quite a grand old lady and she has been a favourite getaway ever since Napoléon III and his Spanish-born wife Eugénie arrived during the mid-19th century. It has been a glamorous spot ever since – lined with elegant villas and heritage-listed residences that glitter with belle époque and art deco details.

This is Hotel du Palais (Probably one of the most beautiful hotels in the world, if you ask me!) The hotel was originally built by Napoleon for Empress Eugénie around 1855 as a summer villa – and because of the visits of the famous couple, the town of Biarritz developed into a fashionable resort. Hotel du Palais has been through some tough times during the years – but it is now refurbished and a true member of the Leading Hotels of the World

According to Frenchie, Karl Lagerfeldt owns a flat in this impressive seaside house  – and apparently it wasn’t easy for him to become the proud owner – the waiting list is long!

Time to find a nice little place for lunch! There are many of them in Biarritz – and you can hardly go wrong. The food in this city is amazing (and affordable!)

This is the Sainte Eugenie Church – a building of Roman-Byzantine style dedicated to Santa Eugenia wife of Napoleon III. We decided to have lunch next to the church and enjoy the beautiful view

Frenchie waiting for tapas and wine at Le Tandem (the church was right on the other side of this square – and the sea 5 mins walk away!

If you like finger food like I do – this is the place to go! I’m not a big fan of heavy meals, when it is really warm – so we chose to go for a selection of basque cheese, paté and meat

If you go to the basque part of France, you simply have to taste the cheese and the paté! (well basically everything that is basque) The green chilies are called piparras – and they taste SO good! I bought a big jar to bring home – since I’ve decided I can’t live without them! 

Tapas with a cold glass of rosé! Salut, Santé et Bon appétit! 

At the town’s largest beach, La Grande Plage, surf was up!  Actually the ISA World surfing games was being held, when we were there, so it was quite busy. (I easily spotted the Danish flag – as my fellow Danes had made sure, that the red and white colours did not exactly disappear in the crowd. As fun as it looked, I am not a big fan of surfing, we decided to move on to more quiet places…

Lets go out there…

You need a pair of good shoes to climb these stairs – but the hard work pays off in the end

Spectacular views of Biarritz

It was quite windy, so if you are wearing a hat, make sure it stays put! (Also bring a cardigan or a warm sweater in case it gets cold)

La Rocher de la Vierge was installed as a token of gratitude by whalers, saved from being shipwrecked by following a dazzling and mysterious light perceptible from the rock’s summit.

La Rocher de la Vierge ( The Rock of the Virgin Mary) was also used by Napoleon as an anchoring point for the Port du Refuge, which he planned to createHence, the rock was made accessible to land via a wooden bridge and a tunnel was drilled that enabled the delivery of stone blocks used for the construction of the dam. The wooden bridge didn’t withstand the test of time and Gustav Eiffel replaced it in 1887 with an iron bridge that is still in place.

If you ever go to Biarritz, you simply have to visit this place… This is wild nature in all its beauty!

After a lot of exploring we decided that it was time to go home and get ready for dinner

When it comes to one of the most important things in life… food, you will not be disappointed in Biarritz. Yes, there are a couple of not so interesting places, but in general the basque food is rich in flavour and the prices are more than fair. One thing that we learned the hard way is, that when you book – make sure to ask for a table outside! We had booked a table at one of the very popular restaurants Le Clos Basque, but simply had to leave, because we “forgot” to ask for table outside – and were placed in a sauna. I was NOT happy!

Luckily we didn’t have to walk that far to find another lovely place to eat 

Café du Commerce surprised me in a very good way! Don’t go looking for fancy restaurants in Biarritz. The places you find the best food are usually the places, that don’t seem too posh from the outside!

Half of the menus were written on the wall!

– or on the black board…

They even had a menu card! (Most places have menu cards in English as well. If not the good people of Biarritz know enough English to explain the menus to you)

We chose to share a bottle of the very local Tariquet 

It certainly was very enjoyable…

I of course had to go for foie gras de canard! It was out of this world delicious!

Frenchie was in the mood for something fishy – so he chose petites chipirons, which he seemed very pleased with!

Very, very  tender steak with green salad, gorgonzola sauce and french fries! 

And a beautiful tuna steak. Absolutely gorgeous!

We left Café du Commerce content – and a little bit tipsy! I warmly recommend this place. Our bill was small – and our smiles were big! 

Back at the hotel we decided for a nightcap before heading to bed! You can’t really complain about the interior of La Regina, can you! 

This was part one of my beautiful days in Biarritz. In the next post I will show you some of the amazing shopping possibilities this town has to offer. Furthermore there is a market to be explored, a few more restaurants to test – and a visit to Hotel du Palais.

A bientôt!

X Louise

 

Comments (4)

  • Amazing pictures!
    Looking forward to part 2

    X

  • Author

    Thank you, Hannah
    Part II is on its way, as we speak 🙂

  • Delicieux Louise! Lovely post as always. Ashamed to say I have never been to Biarritz but must put it on my list.

    • Author

      You simply have to go, Scarlett! Rent a car and drive around along the basque coast. As you will see in the next posts, there are plenty of beautiful cities and smaller towns to fall in love with! Trés charmante!
      X La Louise

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