During my week surfing in South West France, we took a day trip to the glittering surf town of Biarritz. Located on the rocky coast of the French Basque Country, this opulent seaside town boasts beautiful 19th century architecture as well as some of Europe’s best waves. The likes of Zadig & Voltaire, Hermès and Comptoir des cotonniers line the picturesque streets, as well as its own Galeries Lafayette, dazzling in the sunlight and retaining the town’s high glamour reputation.
The town was a frequent favourite amongst royalty during the 1800s, its most fervent visitors including Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, who built a palace on the beach now known as the Hôtel du Palais. Its regal popularity continued into the Belle Époque, however nowadays you are just as likely to find van loads of surfers descending onto the sands as elegant French women walking their chic little doggies along the promenade of the Grand Plage.
This eclectic mix of authentic surf culture (Biarritz was the first place in France to introduce surfing, after German screenwriter Peter Viertel took the town by storm when he started ripping up waves during the filming of The Sun Also Rises) and elegant beauty was what fascinated me the most about Biarritz. It’s even got me thinking that I might spend my year abroad here, spending my days surfing at La Côte des Basques, wandering around the old streets and squares, reading French newspapers at a café, sipping cocktails at cool bars until sunrise…
Our fleeting visit was not enough to really explore all the beaches and bars, sights and shops that the town had to offer, but Biarritz has certainly stolen my heart. I’ve promised myself I’ll return, even if it isn’t a year-long stay of surfing and pretending to be French (I can still dream though).