A local’s guide to Biarritz, France: five great things to do | France holidays

Isabelle de Joantho is a painter and sculptor who studied at the Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz School of

Isabelle de Joantho is a painter and sculptor who studied at the Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz School of Art.


La Goulue restaurant (named after a can-can dancer at the Moulin Rouge who employed to gulp down her clients’ drinks) serves great, area fare in a Basque-purple 1900s dining home. I like the chipirons grillés a la plancha (squid grilled with garlic and parsley) and Spanish-fashion sea bream. For new food, Les Halles lined market place is stuffed with tasting bars, organic bakeries, cheese and charcuterie stalls and fishmongers. Two other places not to skip are Spot Bellevue on the seafront for one particular of Maison Pariès’ caramel fondant kanougas, flavoured with vanilla or Espelette chilli pepper. And in Bidart, a town a little way down the coast, it is well worth seeing a gâteau basque (a cake with a creamy filling and orange zest) getting manufactured in front of you at the Moulin de Bassilour watermill.


Église de Sainte-Eugénie. Photograph: Perry van Munster/Alamy

Overlooking the previous fishing port is the amazing, greystone neo-Gothic Église de Sainte-Eugénie – patron saint of Napoleon III’s wife, Eugénie de Montijo, who fashioned Biarritz as a magnificent well being and vacation resort in the mid-19th century. My inspirational location lies beneath: the substantial, vaulted crypt, which is employed as a venue for artwork reveals. I have exhibited there numerous occasions and it has an amazing ambiance. Biarritz is now a key hub for galleries and up to date art, and I generally attend La Brouillarta, an once-a-year outside artwork good on the seafront. There is also a parcours d’oeuvres d’art, a strolling route all around the city’s lots of frescoes and out of doors sculptures.

Eco-friendly room

Biarritz’s assets consist of the sea, the mountains, the countryside and the Spanish border, but we have 3 golden retrievers, so eco-friendly areas are very crucial to us. There are two excellent lakes just outside the house the town, Lac Mouriscot and Lac Marion. Mouriscot is well known with joggers and cyclists: it has wide, wild pathways by means of the woods and a good deal of benches overlooking the lake. Marion, which is equally excellent for puppies and families, has a bucolic lakeside route, some regions of marshland, as well as loads of mature trees and lawns. The two can be reached on bus route 5 from the centre of town, heading previous Biarritz’s horse racing monitor.


La Grande Plage.
La Grande Plage. Photograph: Alamy

Biarritz’s Grande Plage and on line casino seafront can come to be incredibly crowded in the summer time, so it is best to pay a visit to out of time, but the Port des Pêcheurs to the south is constantly superb. Set on a all-natural creek, the secured harbour has a “village” of 65 cabins acknowledged as crampottes – whitewashed fishing huts constructed into the rock, with pink, blue or vivid green shutters. They have barely improved in 150 years, nevertheless a several have been turned into cafes and places to eat. There is a 19-year waiting record to hire one – you have to possess a boat and a mooring in the fishing port. The port sits beneath the old whale-watching tower and is the most authentic and charming extend of the Biarritz seafront. It has a very little seaside, and lanes draped with floats, fishing nets and the occasional giant anchor.

Locals Guide to Biarritz Illustrations by Hennie Haworth strawberry on page
Illustration: Hennie Haworth/The Guardian


Le Bar Jean, at the coronary heart of Biarritz’s tapas, paella and beef-eating tradition since the 1930s, stays open up right until perfectly soon after midnight, as do several of the pintxos (tapas) bars all over Les Halles sector. It’s well-known to go from bar to bar in Biarritz, tasting tapas with Basque cider, which is poured into little, round glasses from large over the desk so the cider gets to be aerated, although it is really bitter and vinegary! Or, if you are at the seaside together the city’s Côte des Basques, it’s only 100 ways up to Bar Etxola Bibi, a excellent area to view the sunset with a cocktail and plate of pintxos.


Shut to the seashores and Les Halles, Villa Koegui (doubles from €85, breakfast €15pp) was renovated this 12 months. It has a stylish lounge, an outdoor terrace and relatives suites.