There is the luxury of the chateau, the irresistible appeal of Biarritz, the energy of the ocean and the Basque Country art of living. To further ensure your enjoyment, we have prepared some ideas for outings.
Biarritz has always laid claim to the winds, the stars and the sea. The perfect alchemy to produce waves to surf. In 1957, the filmmaker Peter Viertel came to Biarritz as he was shooting a film in the region. He brought two boards from California, eager to tease these waves. The sport of the Hawaiian kings, never before seen in the Old World, officially arrived in Europe. It was an immediate success.
Long perceived as a hostile environment, the ocean has become a fabulous playground full of exciting challenges. Generations of surfers, famous or anonymous, have come to Biarritz to carve their ephemeral footprint on the powerful rollers off Belza or the Grande Plage.
Today, if you're hesitating between two spots, it's more than likely that you'll end up surfing the waves in Biarritz. The Surfrider Foundation has its headquarters here and Ilbarritz is home to Surf City. As for the Côte des Basques, where it all began, every year, it is ranked as one of the three most beautiful beaches in the world.
Inaugurated in March 1888, the British Golf Club in Biarritz was one of the first courses on the continent. Right from the start, illustrious people such as King Edward VII, the Prince of Wales, the King and Queen of Spain, Alphonse XIII, and the Grand Duke Alexander Michailovitch all played on these princely links. Fledgling Biarritz players picked up the game and shone, like Arnaud Massy who won the British Open in 1907.
France's first public golf course, the Phare (lighthouse) opened in Biarritz in 1912. It was modernised and redesigned in 1920 by the architect H.S. Colt who also designed Chantaco golf course, which was much beloved by the Lacoste family.
From the Basque Country to Les Landes, the region now boasts some of the finest golf courses in the world, including the impressive Seignosse course.
You can also play golf in Arcangues, Anglet and Ilbarritz, just a stone's throw from the Phare golf course.
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Biarritz was still a modest fishermen's refuge, surrounded by cliffs and wild dunes, when Eugénie de Montijo, Countess of Teba, fell under its spell in 1834. When she became Empress of the French, she introduced her husband Napoleon III to the town. In 1854/55, he had a palace built for her. The crowned heads and wealthy families of Europe flocked to the first chic seaside resort in history.
Biarritz History Museum provides the opportunity of discovering different aspects of Eugénie's s character, including her favourite places, from the Côte des Basques beach, where she bathed in the ocean, to the Imperial Chapel. Villa Eugénie, lavishly rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1903, and now known as the Hôtel du Palais is where this wonderful pilgrimage ends.
For the past two decades, the oldest pilgrimage in the Christian world has been enjoying renewed success. Walking along the Ways of St. James to Santiago de Compostela brings us back to nature, to spirituality and to ourselves, to the true dimension of time, space and the world.
In the mountains, it's possible to experience the pilgrim's endeavours along the pilgrimage route from Ostabat-Asme to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port: a 5-hour hike over 23 kilometres that arrives through the UNESCO-listed Saint-Jacques city gate. The classic 7-hour stage of the pilgrimage from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles travels along a more physically demanding 27 kilometres.
There is a lot of talk about protecting the environment, but it is even better to put the words into action. The Musée de la Mer and the Cité de l'Océan in Biarritz offer immersive experiences to learn more about the issues involved in protecting the oceans. These workshops are particularly suitable for children.
Launched in the 1930s, this unique place in the world houses museum collections and aquariums that enable the Gulf Stream ecosystem, a warm current that flows off the Basque Country, to be studied. Weakened by climatic upheavals, the Gulf Stream contributes to the regulation and mildness of the local climate.
Bordeaux offers one of the most beautiful architectural ensembles that the 18th century has bequeathed us. Magnificently restored and developed, the city of Montesquieu is a Must excursion from Biarritz. The Cité Mondiale du Vin, the opera district, the charm of the squares lined with restaurants near the stock exchange, the Chartrons...
One day is not enough to enjoy these treasures. Even less so when you want to discover the surrounding vineyards. A special mention for the Pape Clément, Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Ferrand chateaux and their fascinating wine-tasting tours.
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Since the 17th century, every Wednesday morning, the Basque Country world and his wife meets at Espelette market. It is an opportunity to shop with the chef of La Folie Boulart and find an array of delicious produce among the stalls selling Espelette pimento pepper, pâtés, terrines, foie gras, charcuterie, sheep and goat milk cheese, fruit and vegetables grown by local market gardeners.
Veal axoa (pronounced 'achoa') is a local speciality and can be enjoyed on the terrace of nearby restaurants, accompanied by a good Irouléguy wine. There ia also a farmers' market held every Saturday morning in July and August also at the Place du Jeu de Paume.
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the privateers' town, was stamped with the royal seal on 9 June 1660 when King Louis XIV married the Spanish Infanta, Marie Thérèse,·the Archduchess of Austria. The future Queen had arrived in the town a month earlier, staying in what is now known as the House of the Infanta. "There are no more Pyrenees", declared the Sun King at the end of the ceremony, held in the church of St John the Baptist, that sealed the union of France and Spain, thus bringing an end to the 30-year war between the two countries.
On 6 June 1660, King Louis XIV of France and King Philip IV of Spain met in person on Pheasant Island, between Hendaye and Irun, to ratify the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which had been fiercely negotiated and signed on 7 November 1659. Almost 400 years later, it is possible to visit all these places full of history.
Before Biarritz, the aristocracy of old Europe flocked to Pau, which was renowned for its invigorating climate, its golf course, the oldest on the continent, and its hunting. You can discover Pau during a day-long trip and follow in the footsteps of good King Henry IV, whose birthplace chateau still dominates the old town. It was from here that the pioneer Henry Russell set out to conquer the Pyrenean summits, which can also be admired from the terrace of a café on the Boulevard des Pyrénées.
Just a 45-minute drive away is Lourdes, world-renowned for the Marian apparitions, a town that attracts pilgrims and fascinates visitors wishing to immerse themselves in the compelling mystery of the Virgin Mary's appearances in 1858 and the miracles that followed.
Just a stone's throw from Biarritz, the Spanish Basque Country has some lovely surprises waiting to be discovered.Getaria is home to the sublime Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum. Balenciaga, who died in 1972, was one of the most inspiring fashion designers of the 20th century, the golden age of haute couture.
Located in his hometown, this museum brings together and preserves the maestro's collections, making them more accessible and open to the public, complemented by temporary exhibitions of his peers such as Azzedine Alaïa, the French-Tunisian designer who died in 2017.
The Russian quarter of Biarritz extends around the Orthodox church. Almost 150 years of shared passion and history have left traces to be discovered, notably with the help of books by Alexandre de la Cerda. The Les Rochers villa in Rue de la Frégate was home to Stravinsky from 1921 to 1924. Protected by Coco Chanel, the composer in exile completed Petrouchka, Noces and his opera Mavra there.
Sometimes he went to relax in the famous Villa Belza, which at the time housed a Russian cabaret and restaurant. There he met Picasso, Cendrars, Cocteau, Rubinstein and Coco Chanel, of course. For dessert, he would sometimes eat Russe, a cake originating from the region.
Cognac is a 3.5 hour drive from Biarritz, and the trip is well worth the detour. Official supplier to the court of the Tsars, Maison Camus offers an imperial Master Blender workshop. An opportunity to discover all the secrets of blending. Guided by a cellar master, you will be able to discover the subtleties of various eaux de vie, from the Borderies to the Grande Champagne, before making a cognac to your taste.
Its composition will be forever recorded in the ledger, for future orders by the person who created it. At the end of the workshop you can take your creation home in a personalised bottle. Your cognac can then be delivered to the address of your choice.
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Les Prés d'Eugénie, a 1hr40 drive from Biarritz, is home to a cooking school that is renowned throughout the world. Michel Guérard and his brigade, awarded 3 Michelin stars, pass on their skills to gourmets of all ages. Workshops are organised to introduce children up to the age of 15 to the art of pastry making. From a 1.5 hour course dedicated to a particular product, to a four-day or half-day course (4 hours), several options enable you to perfect your cordon bleu talents.
Foie gras, chocolate, oenology and recipes from the last G7 summit in Biarritz are all explained and deciphered. Everyone gets to roll up their sleeves and participate in preparing Michelin-star country and slimming cuisine.
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A great cheese should be tasted like a great wine. Look, touch, smell... all the senses are awakened. Biarritz is just a stone's throw from the Ossau-Iraty cheese route. Taking this route is an opportunity to discover the King of Pyrenean cheeses and the valleys where theses grand cru cheeses are produced and matured with passion. A one-day outing peppered with tasting stopovers.
Two experienced guides organise unforgettable days out to meet the shepherds and producers of these cheeses that are the envy of the whole world and to learn all their secrets.
Biarritz has always been a key venue·for dance. From the Marquis de Cuevas ballet to the stars of the Paris Opera, the best dancers in the world have performed in and come back to the town throughout the year for triumphant events.
For the past 31 years, the Le Temps d'Aimer festival has been held at the end of each summer for a fortnight in September, providing an opportunity to discover and appreciate the best in choreographic art at the Gare du Midi and on the Grande Plage. Ballet Biarritz, housed at the National Choreographic Centre, directed by Thierry Malandain, is one of the most prolific and talented companies in Europe.
Around Biarritz lies a real paradise for lovers of cycling. Cyclists yearning for an uphill challenge can set out to conquer the mythical passes of the Pyrenees, following in the tracks of Tour de France legends. While those who consider themselves to be more of a 'rouleur' can head for the undulating valleys and plains, along the departmental roads, to discover parts of the Vélodyssée and Scandibérique cycle routes.
Electric bikes, mountain bikes and gravel bikes are also part of the fun, in the mountains or under the fabulous canopy of the Les Landes forest.
Imagine that your private helicopter is just 5 minutes away from LA FOLIE BOULART. First flights, initiation to piloting, panoramic flights to enjoy a bird's eye view over the wonders of the Basque Country, from Saint-Jean-de-Luz Bay to the Basque mountains. If you want to play golf, the helicopter will take you to the best greens in the Landes and Basque Country.
Wine lovers, head for the vineyards of Bordeaux or Cognac! At a speed of 250km/h, you can safely land at the foot of Château Pavie or Cheval Blanc. If you're in the mood for gastronomy, you'll be at the Ostapé Inn in Bidarray in just a few minutes. It's simply magical.
Since 1997, Bilbao has been celebrating the opening of the Guggenheim Museum. Architect Frank Gehry built a building with fluid lines on the former industrial wasteland of the Basque metropolis, housing breathtaking collections. The titanium walls capture and magnify the city's unique light. From Richard Serra's The Matter of Time to paintings and sculptures by Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, Georg Baselitz and other great names in contemporary art, the museum attracts crowds that are constantly being enlightened by temporary exhibitions. Only two hours from Biarritz, a private visit to the museum is possible for guests of LA FOLIE BOULART.
An hour from Biarritz, the art of English-style fox hunting is still practised today. We owe this tradition to the officers of Wellington's army, who in 1814, after the battle of Vitoria won against the Napoleonic forces, discovered the moors of Béarn. Some of them decided to settle there, creating the "Pau Hunt" association. Until 1939, Pau became the winter capital of British riders.
True to its origins, the Pau Hunt staff still practises drag hunting. This equestrian sport without a quarry consists of foxhounds following an artificial track traced out·by dragging an object to lay a scent. Embankments, ditches, road crossings... Natural obstacles follow one another at an accelerated pace for two hours. A total communion between horse and rider. Indeed, "if in traditional French hunting parlance, one rides a horse to hunt, the Pau Hunt Club hunts to ride a horse", as a former Master likes to recall.
The deep waters off the coast of Biarritz are reputed to be one of the best areas for deep sea fishing in the Atlantic. The Gouf de Capbreton, an abyssal underwater canyon, located just a few kilometres from the Grande Plage, has always been an obligatory passage for large pelagic migrants, bluefin tuna, albacore tuna, marlin and many other species, which find an abundance of food there.
Several fast boats from Anglet or Capbreton, including the X Cat, offer game fishing excursions at sea for experienced anglers who have mastered the technique of casting. These excurions are limited to four anglers and four companions, in order to guarantee safety.
The best period starts in September and ends in mid-November. This type of recreational fishing is approached with respect for the resource. For bluefin tuna, one of the more tenacious fish, there is a no-kill policy. A quota is applied to the other species (Albacore, Skipjack, Bonito). The X Cat offers tailored services during these trips, combining action and lifestyle.