Architecture / Cities / SURF TRAVEL

48 Hours Surfing at Biarritz, France

kellysurfbiarritz

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WHERE

Biarritz, France

Biarritz is the luxury beach town of Basque Country, where many Parisian and Europeans come to escape the cities’ sweltering summer.  Located next to the Bay of Biscay, the Southwestern coast of France is known to be the origin of European surfing. Along with its long history as a fishing town, Biarritz is also know for it’s many surf breaks within walking distance, historical architecture and water sporting events. 

Biarritz became a swanky resort town during the 19th century when Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie, started visiting the fishing town as a summer escape.  Hotel Du Palais was built for the empress as her second home and later became a high-end resort.  The French cultural influence can be seen and experienced from the royal parties to the trendy outfits throughout Biarritz.  In addition to this beach town’s trendy ambiance, surfing has also established itself as a major sporting event. A well-known beach in the area is La Cote de Basque, which offers gentle beach breaks and is great for all levels of surfers. Another beach is Grande Plage, where you can see the latest and trendiest bikinis and surfboards and also where people not only go to sight see, but also to be seen. If water sports are not your thing, you can enjoy this ritzy town by walking through the medieval town grid’s narrow streets, shopping or just enjoying a cup of espresso and watching beautiful people and architecture everywhere.

biarritz_street

WHEN

Summer in Biarritz is the busiest month for Europeans to play, with small but gentle surf. 

Fall  This is the most consistent season for Basque country surfing.  The ground swell and warm water (around mid 60-degree Fahrenheit) make September to October the best season to visit Biarritz.  It is also less crowded than summer time!  Wetsuit: 3/2 is your best bet.  Spring suit will be okay at early September.

Winter Larger swell but inconsistent and cold water, winter is not a popular season to visit Biarritz.  However, things will be cheaper, and you will surf with friendly locals and larger waves. If you enjoy winter sports, than winter is an excellent time to visit Biarritz with its close proximity to a mountainous landscape and several resorts only an hour away. Wetsuit: 4/3 is needed 

Spring  is the 2nd best time to visit Biarritz. With the chill still in the air, the beach remains not as crowded as summer (around low 60s degrees). The surf is pretty consistent around April and May and the swell is bigger than summer time.  Wetsuit:  4/3 (March) to 3/2 (May)

Summer is the most inconsistent season as the wind direction changes and groundswell decreases.  It is extremely crowded with Europeans and beginner surfers.  The good news is the weather is warm and there are a lot of beautiful nude ladies and men.  Tough choice!  Wetsuit: Spring Suit!

biarritz_rockhole

Walking distance to most of the town with hidden gem like this!

HOW

By Train from Paris

Starting from PARIS MONTPARNASSE, this is a 5-hour train ride that can be enjoyed with a gorgeous view of South France. An one-way train ticket ranges from Euro $80 to 130.  Ticket prices vary according to season and date.  

Upon arrival at Biarritz Train station, you can quickly find taxis outside. It is easy and very close to the center of Biarritz and a car is unnecessary as the town has everything you need within walking distance.

By Air

I found it is cheaper to fly in from London (2 hours) with the cost approximately USD $100 for a round trip ticket (seasonal rates may vary).   Flying in from Paris (1 hours) is around a USD $200 round trip in Early summer.

http://Easyjet.com and http://Ryanair.com are two budget European airline companies.  There is a catch to the cheaper rates though. You are allowed only one small carry-on (includes a backpack or a large purse) and it will cost you an extra Euro $35. 

car

A perfect surf car I found on this French street!

By Car
http://www.Enterprise.com

You can also rent a car from the Paris airport.  It is roughly a 5-hour drive with plenty of scenic landscapes to enjoy.  In general, if you rent a manual shift the rental is cheaper (Euro $15 per day with a Mini car, insurance not included) while an automatic will run you an additional Euro $10.  Renting an automatic car online directly is around Euro $80 per day minimum.

Having a car in town can be more stressful than helpful though as parking can be difficult and also unnecessary since most destinations are within 5 to 30 minutes walking distance.

WHAT

Accommodations

bbps_courtyard

Quiet, cute and intimate cottage house at Biarritz Surf House

Biarritz Paradise Surf (BPSS) $
http://www.biarritzparadisesurfschool.com/

Biarritz Paradise Surf house (which also has a surf shop) is about a 10-minute walk by La Cote de Basque surfing beach.  BPSS also has a surf shop 5 minutes to its Surf House and to the beach.  You can rent all different types of equipment including wetsuits and surfboards and when you’ve got the necessities can walk the famous winding road to the beach.  Total for all rental equipment and a 1½ hour lesson is only 30 Euros. 

 The surf house has 5 individual rooms with a bathroom, kitchenette, a twin/queen bed, sofa and dining table.  Its shared courtyard is a perfect way to meet other surfers at this cute and convenient surf house.  It is an affordable accommodation with a convenient, simple and clean environment.

Note: Biarritz Paradise Surf School offers surf camps with lessons, rentals and accommodation.  Airport transportation is available along everything else conveniently within walking distance.

IMG_0972

One of historical interior view from Hotel Du Palais

Hotel Du Palais $$$$$
http://www.hotel-du-palais.com/web/hdp/hotel_du_palais.jsp

 Hotel Du Palais is the most important landmark in Biarritz. Originally named Villa Eugenie it was built for the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie, as a summer resort in 1855.  As this summer palace evolved into a large-scale hotel palace for royalty, Biarritz has attracted fashionable sun-worshippers every summer from Paris and other major cities. International elites, famous celebrities and visitors love to come here to watch other beautiful people, enjoy the trance of French history and eat fresh seafood.

Hotel Du Palais has become the 2nd home for many of Europe’s elites because of its splendid service and cozy environment for the rich and famous. Now owned by Biarritz local government, the proud historical palace is open year round and has expanded to include 124 rooms and 30 luxury suites.  It has hosted celebrities like Coco Channel and Frank Sinatra providing them with beachfront luxury.  The hotel is the best way to enjoy the luxury amenities that Biarritz has to offer; also to support local community, as all workers are long-term loyal employees who believe in Biarritz and Hotel Du Palais. 

Hotel Du Palais has both indoor and outdoor pools over looking the Bay of Biscay.  Full service spa is available in the award winning 5-story building and has great variety of fine dining and top quality bars.  

Room: Euro $350 and up (varies in seasons), breakfast included.

Taxi: Euro $18 ride from the airport to the hotel.  Everything else is walking distance.

biarrtiz_lighthouse

Hotel Du Palais is located right in front of Grand Plage beach, the “famous people watching beach”, with its own private outlook.  You can arrange surfing equipment with the hotels and surf right in front of your hotel room.

 
Other options:

 Airbnb.com $~$$$

Europeans love to use airbnb.com.  If you go on Airbnb.com, look for accommodations close to the beach.  Or use Jardin Public as a landmark.  Jardin Public is pretty much the center, so look for places no more than 20 minutes walking distance from it.  

photo 1 copy

One of the famous view from the center of Biarritz by Grand Plage: a winding road along the coast line

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48 HOURS IN BIARRITZ 

Day 1

6:00 PM Arriving from Biarritz Airport

Biarritz Paradise Surf School picked Surf Mei Mei up from the airport.  

The airport is about 5 to 15 minutes drive to the center of the Biarritz.  Taxi ride is around Euro $12 to $18.

6:30 PM Check in with Biarritz Paradise Surf House

Located 10 minutes away from the airport and a 10 minute walk to the beach, this cute surf house can host up to 10 couples with its 5 suits.  Wi-fi is included in the affordable price.  

IMG_2089

Entrance to Biarrtiz Paradise Surf House

7:00-10:00 PM Dinner/Bar/Night life

Le Bar Du Marche
8 Rue des Halles, 64200 Biarritz, France

It is a local restaurant and bar where you can sip some wine and meet some locals. Based in an intimate setting, serves simple tapas, and often crowded at night.

Rest and surf tomorrow AM!

Day 2

6:00 – 11:00 AM SurfCote Du Basque

This surf spot is the origin of European surfing.  During the mid 50s, an American Film maker and surfer rode the waves of the beach with French onlookers who witnessed and then participated and since gave birth to European surfing. At this beach break you can find endless gentle and consistent swells breaking along the coast making it a perfect break for longboarders and beginners.  This is a year round surfing spot, but most consistent in the fall.  Similar to other Atlantic Ocean breaks, it gets bigger in late fall, winter and early spring.  Luckily during my time here the waves were gentle and made me want to stay out in the water the entire day.

The ASP Women Long board championship, being one of many Biarritz’s events is also held here in the fall.

 Summer Scene at Cote Du Basque Photo by Isabelle Torsleff

Summer Scene at Cote Du Basque. Photo by Isabelle Torsleff

Best Swell: Northwest, West, Southwest
Best Tide: Low to Mid tide
Best Wind: South, Southeast, East
Best Season: All year round, but Fall is the most consistent season.
Wave Quality:  Consistent beach break that is a great long board spot. Not powerful, just a fun long ride.
Skill Level: All levels. Perfect for beginners.
Crowd: Most crowded during summer for surfing but the beach itself it is not too bad
Access: Access to this beach requires some walking down winding roads
 Summer Scene at Cote Du Basque Photo by Isabelle Torsleff
Summer Scene at Cote Du Basque Photo by Isabelle Torslef  

Biarritz Paradise Surf Camp’s Surf Shop is located right by one of the entrances on the hill.  You can change at the surf shop, and walk down with the locals and enjoy the view.  

Outdoor showers are located half way down the hill.  

Note: This popular spot can get dangerous in the summer and during warm-weather weekends. Gets crowded with long boarders and tons of beginners. You will see groups of surf schools’ students.  But the beach has avery mellow feel. Paddle out in the summer or when conditions are good is super easy. Everyone is super friendly here, including locals! Bring a towel, come and watch people! 

12:00 to 2:00 Lunch 

Halles Biarritz/ Biarritz Market $$
47 rue Gambetta, 64200 Biarritz, France
http://www.halles-biarritz.fr/
IMG_2091

Biarritz Market, the produce/bakery/gift side

This is my favorite place in Biarritz.  It is a food market where you can buy fresh produce, baking goods and other local souvenirs!  There are two sides to the market; one sells produce products and while the other is a seafood market.

Sushi by Caroline is located in the center of Biarrtiz, in the seafood section of the Biarritz Market. Amongst the crowded streets and numerous seafood stands, I stumbled upon this inconspicuous sushi stand where they served ready-made sushi, chirashi, seaweed salad, and seafood wrap.  Sushi by Caroline also lets you sit down and watch how they prepare their yummy and fresh seafood.  Caroline is a Biarritz native who enjoys travelling and snowboarding in the winter.  

With a glass of wine, your lunch can be done under Euro 15 to 20.

IMG_0971

My favorite lunch at Sushi by Caroline: Chirashi with local fish

2:00 to 4:00 PM SPA

Sofitel Thalassa Spa
13 Rue Louison Bobet, 64200 Biarritz, France
http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-2049-sofitel-biarritz-le-miramar-thalassa-sea-spa/index.shtml
Thalassa Spa has a well-known water-therapy for body detoxification!
Using Biarritz’ famous therapeutic Bay of Biscay ocean water, you can choose to have a body massage, seawater bath, or mud mask for the body as their signature spa.  Thalassa at Sofitel uses La Prairie and other best products to produce the best results for their customers.  You can also add other services such as a facial, body massage and nail salon services during your visit. 
sofitel_spa2

View from Thalassa Spa resting area: Biarritz Lighthouse

I was treated with Thalassa’s famous 3-step water Thalassa therapy:

Seawater Cocoon: While lying on a floating bed filled with seawater, your body and head are massaged using aromas and light therapy. The experience was a deep sense of relaxation for the body and mind. 

Hydro massage: While lying down, several water jets shoot out to your legs and back with a variable-pressure jet of warm water controlled by hydrotherapy. This treatment relieves tension in the back and improves circulation. 

Zenitude Wrap: this therapy consist of being covered in a moisturizing hot wrap of seaweed to detox your skin, which is then followed by a horizontal Hydro massage to give your body a refreshing feeling.

After an hour and half long of pampering, I felt refreshed and full of energy! 

sofitel_spa1

Me in Zenitude Wrap

4:30 PM Check in Hotel Du Palais

I was invited to stay with Hotel Du Palais, so I got to enjoy two different accommodations.  You don’t need to do that, especially if you have only 48 hours! 

Hotel Du Palais is a 5 star hotel located next to the ocean on the quieter and private side of Biarritz center. If you have any questions about surfing many of receptionists and employees, who also surf, can answer all of your questions. Also with an added bonus you can conveniently store your surf equipment with the hotel staff.  Friendly and with a welcoming environment, Hotel Du Palais made me feel like royalty while I stayed there.  Inside of the palace, you can find 4 dining halls, two indoor and two outdoor giving diners a magnificent ocean view.  There is a 5-story spa on site with award winning service. Outside of the estate of Hotel Du Palais, you can find many high-end shops and many restaurants. Many historical buildings also surround the hotel itself. 

For more info, check out Surf Mei Mei’s article on Hotel Du Palais. Coming soon!

photo 1

View of Grand Plage from Hotel Du Palais’ outdoor pool area

Now, let’s go surf right in front of the hotel!

5:00 to 8:00 PM Surf 

Grande Plage

Best Swell: West, Southwest
Best Tide: Low to Mid tide
Best Wind:  Southwast, East
Best Season: All year round, except Fall is the most consistent season.
Wave Quality:  Starting to break at ankle high, fun, hollow and fast when bigger. It offers a shorter ride than Cote Du Basque but non-the-less a great place to catch waves.
Skill Level: All levels
Crowd: Crowded in summer 
Access: Limited parking on the street.  Don’t drive, just walk from Ave of De La Reine Victoria, Ave of De L’Imperatrice, or Blvd Du General De Gulle, you will not miss the surf spot, because this beach is crowded with beautiful and trendy people.
Note: prepare for your six-pack, even lifeguards are cute. 
biarrtiz_lighthouse

Grand Plage: another view from Hotel Du Palais to the Lighthouse on a day with smaller wave

8:00 to 10:00 PM Dinner

Chez Albert $$$
http://www.chezalbert.fr/

Recommend by a local surfer who works at Hotel Du Palais.  This bi-level beachfront restaurant is a famous local joint with a great selection of seafood.

You can see a different side of Biarritz while enjoying a great sunset by the beach and taking a pleasant stroll back to Hotel Du Palais.  Lovers, vacationers and locals all gather together to enjoy the beautiful Bay of Biscay.  You can even surf after dark with the streetlights by Grand Plage!

7:00- 9:00 AM Surf 

9:00 – 10:00 Breakfast at Hotel Du Palais

La Rotonde

Hotel provides luxury buffet style breakfast on the main floor.  

Fresh French pastry, fruit and American style of eggs and sausage, this breakfast can easily be your brunch.

shopping

High end shopping everywhere!

11:00- 12:00 Check out, Shop and hang out

Around center of Biarrtiz, there are numerous surf shops and all kinds of stores.  You can shop or just simply sit at a café and watch people walk by like Parisians.  There are many cafés and restaurants around Biarritz Market where you can order an espresso and sit outside and people watch.

Shop at a Local Surf Brand

Ipar Hego
http://www.iparhego.com/

I found Ipar Hego at Biarritz Paradise Surf Shop.  It produces sweaters, T-Shirts, bags and espadrilles (locally made beach shoes, made out of robes and cotton.  Very popular by Europeans).  The quality is very solid and price is at medium range (t-shirt is about Euro $25).

12:00 – 2:00 Lunch/ Snack

Miremont Biarritz
http://www.miremont-biarritz.com/en/

I recommend this historical French pastry place. You can also eat breakfast and lunch here.  This is similar to Angelina of Paris. The setting is beautiful in an old historical building; the pastry is very yummy!  Many people just come here to chat with their friends and watch other beautiful people; or just escape mid day heat from the sun!

Biarritz_merrygoaround

How about carousel by the beach?

2:30 Airport

Pick Up your luggage and say good bye to the beautiful Biarritz!

It seems like 48 hours at Biarrtiz might be too short, since people watching is my 2nd favorite “sport” to do.  (Surfing is my first and architecture sighting is my 3rd favorite activity.)

Biarritz is filled with beautiful people, architecture, delicious seafood, and is also an amazing to surf. Although pricy, as many beach resort towns would be, it is laid back with plenty of trendy people who dress well.  Many surfers are here to show off their latest surfboards and perfect bodies because there are too many good-looking people around.  If you are into history, beautiful people and gentle surf, Biarritz in the Fall will be your best option.

biarritz architecture

Medieval architecture; architecture is well-kept in this historical town

You got more time?

Rent a car and drive up and down the Basque Country! Within 30 minutes to a 1-hour drive, you can stay at each surf sport along the beautiful Basque Country coastline and south of Biarritz is Spain!  The waves are also super fun.  Many French love to travel down south to enjoy Spanish music, tapas, and its party vibe!  North of Biarritz is the famous barrel spot, Hossegor, where bigger waves and a more laidback atmosphere can be discovered.  Check out our article on Hossegor soon! 

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Local’s Recommendation

Mahtieu from Biarritz Paradise Surf School

My name Mathieu Cerramon, and I was born in Biarritz.  I have been surfing for 20 years now.  I am a French championship Master, and have won the championship of Biarritz titles many times. I’ve surfed at a lot of places in the world: Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Senegal, Madeira, Canary Island, South Africa, Guadeloupe, California, Costa Rica panama, Guatemala, Peru, Mexique, Hawaii, French Polynesie Tahiti, Australia, Indo, Mentawai, Sri Lanka…you name it. 

_W050291 - Copie

Mattieu Cerramon ripping it

I love surfing! 

I created Biarritz Paradise Surf School to use my experience and knowledge of surfing in Biarritz to service other people.  Surfing = Biarritz

Sunset along the coast of Bay of Biscay

Sunset along the coast of Bay of Biscay

I like to eat at La Tantina De Burgos, which is a very good restaurant with a good price.  It has local food with a very good atmosphere.  Le Surfing has a great sea view and local surfing crowd.

For bars, Le Barbu is a great bar with local surfers and good ambience.  Also, Le Bar Du Marche is right around Halle Du Barritz, it is packed at night with good tapas and beautiful people. 

Things to do? It is good to watch a game of Cesta Punta, a Basque Country traditional sports that is similar to racquetball but with a smaller ball and has been called the fastest ball in the world.  It is also good to watch a rugby game.  Well, the best thing I would like to do is to just swim and watch the sunset!!! 

When Surf Mei Mei first met Mathieu, he drove me up and down of Biarritz (Biarritz is hilly) just to show me different angles of Biarritz.  I had many questions while we watch the sunset of Biarritz.  However, all he thought of was, “Is it Biarritz beautiful? Better than Paris!”  Mathieu is always excited to show his beautiful French surf town, Biarritz.

IMG_0925

Pro Surfer, Mattieu, and Surf Mei Mei at Hotel Du Palais

Looking to go to Biarritz?

Email SurfMeiMei@gmail.com, we are starting a surf retreat at Biarritz 🙂

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All images are originated by Surf Mei Mei 
Surf Mei Mei empowers and mentors women world-wide through experiences that open our minds.

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Email us at surfmeimei@gmail.com

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2 thoughts on “48 Hours Surfing at Biarritz, France

  1. If you are starting a surf retreat in France. I am in. like really really really in. Like in there like swimwear.

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