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December 15, 2018

France: Biarritz

Filed under: Architecture, Europe, France, Photography, Travel, Travel, Writing — Tags: , , , , — anotherheader @ 10:14 pm


For some undefined reason I’ve held a fascination with Biarritz. Perhaps it comes from reading Hemmingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”. Or maybe it is the commune’s name, which to me evokes the La Belle Époque. For whatever reason, I’ve long been motivated to visit.

Biarritz is located on the Bay of Biscay in the Basque region of France. On the autoroute we’ve passed near Biarritz numerous times as we sped our way to San Sebastian Spain, one of our favorite European food destinations. San Sebastian sits 50 kilometers to the southwest of Biarritz, just across the border in the Spanish Basque region. From the road we figured that Biarritz must share many of nearby San Sebastian’s pleasures.

But as we discovered, though there are some similarities, Biarritz and San Sebastian are very different. Both communes have grand Belle Époque buildings separated from the waterfront by wide paved promenades. But in San Sebastian there is also a nicer intact historic core. And then there are San Sebastian’s Michelin-starred restaurants and pinxtos bars. There was really no comparison on that front: San Sebastian is a much better food destination than, well, pretty much anywhere else.

Hôtel du Palais

Transitory beach art near Rocher du Basta

With that our opinion may be in the minority. There were plenty of tourists in Biarritz when we visited for two nights at the end of October 2017.

Qualitatively the tourist density seems similar between the two communes. But the make-up of the crowds is different. In Biarritz there seem to be many more families seeking beach time. In San Sebastian foodies seeking to find the best pinxtos in the world seem to be the core group. We fit in with the pinxtos-seeking horde.

Biarritz’s waterfront

Gigi takes another ride on a tourist train.

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