Biarritz (French: Biarritz, ; Gascon Occitan: Biàrritz; Basque: Biarritz or Miarritze) is a town and commune which lies on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast, in southwestern France.
It is a luxurious seaside town and is popular with tourists and surfers. Biarritz also boasts some of the best beaches in Europe and has won multiple awards for their top class standards.
Biarritz is located in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département
, in the Aquitaine région
. It is adjacent to Bayonne
and 11 miles (18 kilometres) from the border with Spain
. It is in the traditional province of the French Basque Country
who invaded Gascony
in 840 settled in Biarritz, which later participated in the whaling
trade. Biarritz is a Basque
name with locative suffix -itz (cp. Isturitz) attested Bearriz in 1170, Bearids in 1186, Bearritz in 1249. The Scandinavians settled in the area above the Gardague
Beach. It has been suggested (disputedly) that the remaining Vikings became "Agots
," a social group in Gascony not allowed to mix with the population at large. Segregation
among these communities—there were many in Gascony and Navarra
— disappeared only in the early 20th century.
Biarritz has long made its fortune from the sea: as a whaling settlement from the 12th century onwards, in the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic properties, inspiring patients to make pilgrimages to the beach for alleged cures for their ailments.
Biarritz's became more renowned in 1854 when Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III) built a palace on the beach (now the Hôtel du Palais). The British royal family regularly took vacations in Biarritz: European royalty such as Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and Alfonso XIII of Spain were frequent visitors.
- the Asiatica Museum, which houses a significant collection of Asian art primarily from India, Nepal, Tibet, and China.
- The Museum of the Sea, which boasts 24 aquariums containing sharks and seals
- The annual Biarritz Surf Festival founded in 1993 at the Côte des Basques is one of the premier surf events in Europe and longboarding events in the world.
- St-Martin's Church, constructed in the 12th century, and restored in the middle of the 16th century.
- The Russian Orthodox Church in Biarritz, constructed in the 19th century for visiting Russian aristocrats, with its famous blue dome.
- The Chapelle Imperiale built for Empress Eugenie, which has an intricately decorated roof interior, and elegant wall tiling.
- A Museum of Chocolate, which explains its history and manufacture.
- Two large Casinos, the Barriere and the Bellevue, on the waterfront by the Grande Plage.
Spectacular cliffs and lookouts lie to the west of the main beach.
Surfing at Biarritz is of a world-class standard and first appeared in 1957 , and the town has a strong surfing culture.
The town is home to a prominent rugby union club, Biarritz Olympique.
Basque pelota is a very popular sport of the Basque country. Several local or international competitions take place in Biarritz.
The golf course, near the lighthouse (Le Phare), was created in 1888 by British residents. In addition to this the town has a large circular golf range area on the border with illbaritz.
Biarritz is easily accessible from Paris by France's high-speed train, the TGV, which departs from Gare de Montparnasse. Furthermore, as of April 2008 a 'discotheque' night train runs this route.
Biarritz has an airport Aéroport de Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne located about 4 kilometers away from the city in the inland. Its very near at N10 road towards Anglet, it is joined airport with Anglet and Bayonne.
The town lies in Basque territory, and Basque flags and symbols are prevalent throughout Biarritz.
Biarritz's casino (opened August 10, 1901) and beaches make the town a notable tourist centre for Europeans.
Biarritz was the birthplace of:
- Augusta, Georgia, United States, since 1992
- Cascais, Portugal, since 1986
- Ixelles, Belgium, since 1958
- Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, since 1996
- Zaragoza, Spain, since 1986
- Mar del Plata, Argentina since 1996
Source: Twin towns, Biarritz Official Site