Biarritz on the Basque Coast of France, Sept 2016

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The train from Tours to Biarritz was very easy with a quick change over at Bordeaux so all up around 4 hours and very smooth and apart from some vertigo effects from the train ride for Ann we arrived in Biarritz in good shape.

After a 45 min wait for taxis to arrive at the station we made it to our Hotel, The Soffitel Miramar right on the beach at the northern end of the main beach and just a 10 min stroll into the town centre. When we arrived in our room the view was fantastic looking out over the beach and the lighthouse but there was work going on in the room next door and the chipping and drilling was not at all good especially as Ann needed to rest from the vertigo effects and when they could not move us to another room, Ann had to settle for ear plugs, at least they offered later to move us and then offered a free nights accom so very good customer service.

John went for a walk into town and along the coast walks and then a swim in the ocean after we had lunch around the pool. It was a very rough surf with a nasty shore break so even body surfing was dodgy let alone heading out for a decent swim with plenty of water moving around in strange ways.

Plenty of people surfing at the main beach so it is clearly a popular spot as France’s surfing Capital and the waves were pretty good with some solid well overhead sets every 5 mins.

The coast paths and little rocky bays are stunning and every angle reveals new vistas and interesting ways of trying to tame the wild seas that hammer this coast.



Nature rules here as it does everywhere but the locals have managed to create a safe harbour in a rocky cove.


There was a delightful protected beach tucked into a corner where everyone had gathered to avoid the swell


The town centre is very tourist based but with plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants of good quality as well as some of the fanciest Hotels in France.

The main one is the Palais Royal, dominating the landscape it was the former summer resident of Napoleon III and his wife Eugine and a serious Palace it is , built around 1840 but it has been a hotel for most of its life.

We walked up into town for dinner and found a nice fish place down at the Harbourside right on the water that was buzzing with about 5 restaurants filling up fast. It was the perfect spot to catch the sun setting on what was a beautiful day in Biarritz.

There was certainly no mistaking we were in the Basque region with basque flags and everything basque clearly a very important cultural belonging.

The next morning was threatening rain so it was a good thing we put the umbrellas in when we headed out for a light breakfast because down it came with wind included. We found some cover at a cafe down at the beach and had a coffee and when it cleared we stopped in at a cafe and had savoury pancakes before walking up to the Madonna on the island which was being battered by big swells and howling wind . We jumped onto the tourist motor train for a whisk around town to get our bearings which reminded us a lot of San Francisco with its style of architecture and then we got dropped off back at the beach.

We walked back up to the Plaza above the big Casino ( beach pavilion ) and took a look inside the Art Deco edifice which has been restored into an exhibition/function centre with restaurants on the ground floor facing the beach.

We stopped in at a fancy patisserie and had lunch before doing a bit of shopping and more wandering up to the hill and more spectacular views.

The weather had stayed good since the morning but it was clearly about to change and sure enough on our way back to the Hotel it opened up again and we made it to the Biarritz beach tunnel that goes under the Palais Royal beach patio and then back to the hotel in a break. As we were walking along the path at high tide John warned Ann just in time to run as a big wave was about to hit the wall and just behind Ann a tourist lady put her head over the side to look and was drenched from head to toe as the wave hit the wall, ran up its side and continued its momentum over the lip onto the unsuspecting tourists.


The rest of the afternoon was non-stop rain so we caught up with the blog and ordered room service for a nice lazy night.

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