A few years back, I was lucky enough to spend one month during the spring in the lovely seaside town of Biarritz. I knew nothing about the city when I arrived, but luckily with the help of some locals, I discovered the most amazing places to visit in this charming French city known for its sandy beaches and Basque country culture.
Biarritz is a city on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in the French Basque Country in southwestern France. It was a small fishing village for many centuries.
The town began to grow as a fashionable seaside resort in the early 19th century. The Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III, fell in love with the area, and they built a palace on the beach, now the Hôtel du Palais, a luxury hotel. This prompted a wave of high-profile visitors, including European royalty.
Biarritz continued to be a popular destination for tourists. During World War II, it was a base for German troops. After the war, it retained its status as a glamorous seaside resort. In the late 1950s, Biarritz became a hotspot for surfing, being one of the first places where surfing was introduced in Europe. This further boosted its reputation as a destination for leisure and adventure.
The city has hosted international conferences, including the G7 Summit in 2019.
If you find yourself heading to the southwest of France, then here are my favorite things to do, see and eat in Biarritz!
Visit the Grande Plage
The Grande Plage is the main beach in Biarritz, located right next to the downtown centre ville. This beach is really the center of all activity in Biarritz. When deciding where to stay in Biarritz, your best bet is to pick a hotel near this beach or the downtown area.
La Grand Plage is a sprawling beach filled with the colorful, striped tents that Biarritz is known for. Grab a snack and some beverages, and head to this classic Biarritz beach for a day in the sun!
See the Rocher de la Vièrge
One of the most famous attractions in Biarritz is Rocher de la Vierge, meaning “Rock of the Virgin,” a rock formation that juts out into the Bay of Biscay via a metal footbridge. The statue of the Virgin Mary was constructed in 1865, long after the rock was used as an anchor point for Napoléon III!
Walk around Rocher du Basta
Rocher du Basta is a small island next to the Grand Plage, accessible via a gorgeous bridge made of rock. Enjoy a terrific view of the ocean and Grande Plage from this lookout spot.
Enjoy views from Le Phare
On the far side of the Grand Plage is Biarritz’s famous lighthouse. What’s most interesting about this spot is the incredible heights from which you can see the ocean and city. It’s about a 15-minute walk from Biarritz’s city center, and certainly worth the trek for the magnificent natural surroundings!
Shop Les Halles
The Halles de Biarritz is an indoor covered market that sells fresh fruits and vegetables, locally sourced meats, cheese varieties, and more. It’s open every day from 7:30am to 2pm (1pm on Sundays).
Watch Sunset from La Côte des Basques
Watch the sunset from the open-air bar Etxola Bibi, formerly called Les 100 Marches, with a drink in hand or climb down the winding path to watch the surfers at the beach below at Côte des Basques.
Grab an açai bowl before heading to the beach at this tasty smoothie shop! 18 Place Georges Clemenceau
Lunch at Le Café du Commerce
A typically French brasserie and bistro, lunch at Le Café du Commerce will certainly fill your need for a traditional Basque meal. 1 Rue des Halles
Drinks at Biarritz Aquarium
The Biarritz Aquarium is a great place to visit of course, especially if you’re traveling with kids, but you can also get a drink at the rooftop bar and enjoy a stunning view over the ocean. It’s a great place to relax and take in the atmosphere!
Pre-dinner Drinks at Comptoir du foie gras
Just across the street from Les Halles (the main market of Biarritz), you’ll find an adorable bar where locals come to meet for pre-dinner drinks. Be sure to get a bottle of rosé and of course, a side of foie gras to enjoy the sunset and balmy ocean air. 1 Rue du Centre
Get a Burger at Le CAB
Ok, to be honest, I’ve had one of the BEST burgers of my life at Le CAB in Biarritz. And that’s saying a lot coming from an American! Seriously, whether for lunch or dinner – definitely stop here at some point during your stay in Biarritz. 62 Rue Gambetta
Eat Seafood at Bar Jean
The seafood at Bar Jean is a popular dinner destination among locals, and it stays busy even after dinner! 5 Rue des Halles
Get Out Dancing at Bar de La Plage
Bar de la Plage is the chic, hotspot in town, located on the ground level of the Casino. Don’t even think about going to the Biarritz discothèque across the street. Bar de la Plage is the place to be after dinner. I even saw Vincent Cassel here one night! Enough said. 4 Rue Gardères
Get Drinks at Eden Rock Café
This oceanside Eden Rock Café bar offers gorgeous views over the rocks and ocean of Biarritz. It’s the perfect place to take in the evening over a lovely glass of wine. 2-4 Espl. du Port Vieux
Take Surf Lessons
There are plenty of surfers who will gladly give you instructions and teach you how to surf! While learning how to surf well takes months, you might as well learn the basics while you are in Biarritz. Check out these Biarritz surfing courses and lessons.
Eat Sweets from Chocolaterie Henriet
You must pick up some chocolate, macarons, or sweets from Chocolaterie Henriet, which has been operating in the region since 1946! Chocolaterie Henriet, Place Georges Clemenceau, 64200 Biarritz, France
Shop for Local Crafts
There are tons of local boutiques where you can pick up some cool crafts and gifts to bring home for family and friends. Be sure to support the local creators!
What are your favorite things to do in Biarritz?
Would you go to Biarritz during a summer trip to France?