A summertime favorite on the southwest coast of France is the surf town of Biarritz. Known for its beautiful coast, boutique hotels, shopping, and cliff walks, Biarritz, in the Pays-Basque region of France, is a great summer getaway.
Biarritz is popular with local and international tourists for its pretty coastal view, surfing, and tasteful Pays-Basque cuisine. Interestingly, this region has its own French-Basque dialect. Biarritz is only 30 minutes drive or less from the Spanish border and other popular French coastal towns like Hendaye, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bidart, and Bayonne lining the Atlantic Ocean. If beaches aren’t necessarily your thing, the Pyrenees Mountains are not far away and provide a backdrop in a panoramic view.
Avoiding the peak season, Julien and I spent 5 days in early September when the weather is still considered summer-like and ideal during the day with only a light jacket needed after the sunsets. We stayed at the cutest beach-themed boutique hotel & restaurant called Les Baigneuses de Biarritz. Set directly in front of the Plage du Port Vieux beach and only a minutes walk from the center of the town, each room has a seaside view. Our bedroom on the second floor had a terrace that was semi-private but also led directly to the outdoor restaurant where the food is outstanding. I won’t lie, we ended up having 90% of all our meals here.
Our itinerary was full each day with plenty of activities to keep us entertained. The first day was a late afternoon arrival so we spent the rest of the time with the sun at the beach and then had a lovely meal at the hotel restaurant with a friend of ours in town for work.
The next day I went for an early morning run along the coast and through the center of the town and caught the sunrise. Unfortunately, we got a bit of rain but we made use of the bad weather to visit the Biarritz Aquarium and the covered market in the center of the town.
On the third day, we booked a boat tour with a local from Airbnb Experiences out of the southwest port in Hendaye. It was a full day tour visiting the Spanish and French coasts that included snorkeling, visiting private beaches, lunch of local ham, cheese, and rosé, and finally a super fun water tubing experience in Saint-Jean-du-Luz harbor. We made it back in time that evening to watch a France World Cup Qualification match at a local pub near to the hotel.
On the fourth day, we booked a surf lesson at the famous Plage de la Côte des Basques. The afternoon lesson included a wetsuit, education on equipment, and how to’s and what not to do’s. Then getting into the ocean and trying to catch some waves. As a first-timer, I was proud to get up and stay balanced. After about an hour and a half, we finished and were able to have the opportunity to purchase photos from the session.
That last evening we were about to have dinner at the hotel restaurant but then a major storm quickly and unexpectedly passed through causing a mad rush of outdoor patrons to run inside leaving their meals and dishes on the terrace. This caused havoc with flying plates and glasses, with our room being on the terrace level, Julien and I quickly tried to grab as many glasses and bottles and plates that we could from getting destroyed and placed them in our room until the storm passed. When we made it downstairs, we found the workers themselves, who had also been caught in the torrential rain trying to pin down the very large and expensive parasols, continued to work soaking wet after the craziness calmed down. We informed the owners that we had several of the plates and glasses in our room and they were so appreciative, sending staff to retrieve the dishware and letting us drink for free! It pays to be kind.
After a very eventful evening, we were leaving the next day back home by train. Honestly, one of my preferred ways to travel around France. It gave me time to reflect on what we did in Biarritz and gave me a new appreciation for the southwest of France.