Beautiful Biarritz – the perfect mini break
Hmmm, you’ve reached an older feature - let’s get you up to date! Read our latest City Travel features here.
What I didn’t know at the time was that the Goddess of Bad Luck and Party Pooping (she’s a multi-tasker, I’ll give her that) was going to give me food poisoning at the airport – yes you Pret A Manger sushi – and that I was set to spend the next three days running for the lav and feeling sorry for myself.
I actually came home a little bit depressed (*sniff*) which is why it’s taken me a few weeks to write about it. Alright, alright, I’m over it now and you’ll be pleased to know that I was on form the first and last nights – enough time out and about to be able to tell you that I’ve tumbled across a fantastic short break destination. Here’s what’s special about this coastal gem…
1. Flights to Biarritz are pretty cheap. Both Easyjet and Ryanair fly here, and we snapped up ours in early June for £73. It could have been even cheaper if we’d moved faster. Flight times are 1 hr 30 and it takes precisely 10 minutes to get from the airport to the centre of town. It couldn’t be easier if we were teleported there. Oh alright, maybe marginally. But it’s still fantastically low-stress.
Three of them in town. They’re all sandy. They’re all surfy. They’re all likely to have good looking sporty types prowling up and down all day. The one below is the main beach, and the only one with Casino and cafes along the stretch. It’s just a couple of minutes from the centre of town too if you fancy a cocktail after a hard day working on your tan.
3. Its location. Don’t know where Biarritz is? I didn’t either. It’s in Aquitaine, Southern France, close to the Spanish border, so only about 30 mins from gastro heaven San Sebastian. Biarritz has good culinary credentials itself though (plenty of Michelin starred restaurants) and the mix of French and Spanish cuisine means you get the best of both worlds. We ate at a fantastic restaurant on the last night with direct access to the beach, a dance area and the most incredible food (am trying to find the name of it – will insert soon!). My friends also really recommended Bar Jean, which is cool and a real locals restaurant. I’m afraid I was ill that night. *SOB*. No, forget that. *HOWL*
4. Biarritz is very pretty
Compact. Clean. Cultural. Lovely designer shops. And everything infinitely wanderable. Stop at the port for an authentic fish lunch at Casa Juan Pedro, stop again for cocktails a few hours later. What’s not to like?
5. Close-by towns worthy of a visit
include San Sebastian, Bayonne, Saint Jean de Luz – and that’s just for starters. In other words, you can easily while away 3-4 days here without even blinking.
A gem of a hotel that I’d totally recommend to others. Hotel Julien was £50 per person per room (being mates, we just shared double beds – oh come on!) and it was such great value for money. Minutes from the coolest bit of town, 10 mins walk to the beach, modern, tasteful rooms with well-appointed bathrooms, generous breakfasts (extra at 11E each), and the owners were absolutely charming. They spoke French (quite rightly) but slowly and with patience and humour so it never felt embarrassing or difficult to talk French back to them. It’s a 3 star hotel because the facilities are limited (eg no swimming pool or any of that malarkey) but I think that underrates it massively.
7. The Biarritz locals. They’re funny! Very friendly, great sense of humour, not at all shall-we-say ‘Parisian’ in their approach to visitors. Taxi drivers were helpful, barmen were charming, shop assistants smiled. It was like a mini gallic miracle.
8. Surfing. Not my bag, admittedly, but Biarritz is a major European surfy spot with some seriously impressive waves. Unless you have a desperate urge to squeeze into a wetsuit and flail around on your boogie board, don’t worry about getting in the sea. But it gives a cool vibe to what used to be a very sedate, Victorian resort and that spells FUN.
9. Biarittz is versatile. Brilliant for a girlie break, perfect for romantics, no problems for a family. Really, it’s a no-brainer. I’ll be back – with Pret definitely off the menu.