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Faded glamour and modern cool…

If ever there was a town with two faces, it has to be Biarritz, the seaside town in the far south-west of France. Situated in the wild Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic coast, Biarritz was once the glamorous haunt of the rich and famous, not to mention of royalty. Much evidence of this remains today, although many of the glamorous buildings have acquired a somewhat faded look over the years. There is still an elegance to Biarritz, particularly in the centre of town, and visitors can find themselves awe-inspiringly aware of the sensation of following in the footsteps of Hemmingway, Napoleon III and Queen Victoria.

Surfing capital of Europe

Biarritz has another side too, however, and it is one which seems to sit oddly alongside of the elegant resort of kings. Biarritz has become, courtesy of its huge beaches and crashing waves, the surfing capital of Europe. The town, in season, is home to the trendiest and coolest of surf sports competitors and fans from all over the world.

Fabulous, darling…

The seafront still retains the most grandiose houses and the memory of things that once made it the most fashionable resort in Europe. Ostentatiously grand, these are the houses which give Biarritz tremendous character, and create a sense of history. On the outskirts of the town now lie many newer developments of perhaps less grand properties, although there are many very exclusive residences to be found in the vicinity too.

Centre Ville

In the centre of Biarritz there is a lively feeling, especially in the high season when the population rises to a staggering 120,000! Plenty of shops and restaurants are dotted around the elegant streets, and many of the restaurants serve the delicious Basque cuisine that is renowned worldwide. This, it must not be forgotten, is Basque country, where Spain meets France, and which has a national identity and language all of its own. Biarritz is French, first and foremost, but also proudly Basque.

Things to see, things to do…

Biarritz in summer time is a hive of activity, with so much going on that you are guaranteed never to be bored. There is street theatre, with jugglers, acrobats and other impromptu entertainers taking to the streets, and there is also the more conventional entertainment offered by cinema and the town's two casinos.

Biarritz's surfing festival

The surfing culture which is so much a part of Biarritz now is all encompassing in the summer, and there is a massive influx of young people bringing new forms of entertainment to the town. Beach parties and barbecues proliferate, imparting an antipodean air to this historical piece of old Europe! There is also the biggest surfing festival in Europe which is held yearly at the Côte de Basques beach, and this provides great entertainment and an opportunity to see some of the top proponents of the sport in action.

Winter glory too…

Don't think of Biarritz as purely a summer resort though, as it is situated close enough to the dramatic peaks of the Pyrénées to be also a great base for winter sports. Ski resorts in the Pyrénées are becoming more and more popular and developed, and have the advantage of not being as over subscribed as the Alpine resorts, where the long queues for the lifts can spoil a days skiing. The surfing culture is also spilling over into winter sports, with snowboarding gaining in popularity, and new snow parks being constructed.

How to get there

Reaching Biarritz is easy, as the town has an airport which offers direct flights with Ryanair and a TGV station making train travel from the UK very straightforward. It is also close to the ferry port of Santander/ Bilbao.

Property prices and availability in and around Biarritz

Property in Biarritz is expensive, as there is still a certain cachet to owning property in this grand old town. The Atlantic coast resorts do tend to hold their property values very well, with steady increases in value showing even when other places are in decline. Therefore, although the initial price may be high, Biarritz property usually proves to be a sound investment, and rental income potential is excellent.

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Biarritz AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Biarritz?

Biarritz is located in the far south-west of France, in the notoriously wild Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic coast. It lies in the very north-west of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, close to the border with the Landes.

Biarritz Property Map


Aquitaine Guide

Aquitaine Property Map


Pyrénées-Atlantiques Guide

  Pyrénées-Atlantiques Map

Population: 30,000

Access: By air: Fly to Biarritz with budget airline Ryanair. By rail: There is a TGV stop at Biarritz. By boat: Take the ferry to Bilbao/Santander.

Economy: The economy of Biarritz has changed from its beginnings as a fishing village to being largely dependant on tourism.

Interesting fact: The fortunes of Biarritz changed in 1854, when Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie began to use the town as a holiday retreat. They were followed by many others, including Britain's Queen Victoria and writer Ernest Hemmingway.


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