The Basque coast is truly one of my favorite regions. First of all, its proximity to the important French city of Toulouse has made it possible for me to go there regularly over the years. In the beginning, when I was just a child, I thought only of playing on the beach; when I was a teenager I thought only of hanging out with my friends; and now, in my thirties, I think only of going on beautiful little trips in the area, eating at good restaurants, and staying at a lovely hotel! In short, this region has something for everyone, and that’s what makes the Basque atmosphere so pleasant… and always a little bit chic!
Explore the Area
On the Basque coast, you’ll find a series of small towns and villages along the seaside. There are dozens of lovely trips that you can take, so I’ll recommend just a few:
- A stroll near the Rocher de la vierge (“Virgin on the Rock”) in Biarritz
In my opinion, this is a must-see in Biarritz! The area is so beautiful, especially at sunset when the sky is covered in a wash of pinks.
- A trip to downtown Biarritz
This city is truly a gem! I love the Art Deco and Belle Époque architecture, showcased in the superb local villas. It’s an absolute pleasure to walk down the little streets in the city center.
- A walk through Saint-Jean-de-Luz
Saint-Jean-de-Luz features a completely different look: numerous Basque-style houses line the small downtown streets, and the red-and-white theme is everywhere!
- The seaside path
A 25 km (15.5 mile) path runs along the coast from Bidart to Hendaye. It’s a magnificent location but don’t worry, you don’t have to walk the whole of the promenade! A simple trip up and down a few kilometers of the path is already a treat!
Play a Round of Golf
Thanks to the coast’s ten high-quality golf courses and mild climate, plenty of golf enthusiasts come spend a few days here to improve their swing. If you’ve never even set foot on a green, you can still take advantage of the opportunity to do an initiation and discover the joys of the sport!
Learn How to Surf
If there’s a place in France that’s well-known for its waves and its surfers, it’s definitely the Basque coast! Maybe it’s time to throw yourself in the water and try out this sport. In Biarritz, there are no fewer than 18 surfing schools. Your cup runneth over!
Relax with Thalassotherapy
You deserve a break after all that effort! Or if you’d like, you can skip the sports and go straight for some R&R! You’ll find plenty of thalassotherapy centers in the region according to your expectations. I particularly liked the Grand Hotel Thalasso & Spa with its absolutely divine ambiance; it’s nothing to do with the medicalized aspect of thalassotherapy that you might imagine.
The little boutiques in Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz are really lovely. You can find fantastic local brands, like the Sandales d’Eugénie where I found a gorgeous pair of espadrilles. You’ll also come across plenty of luxury labels, like Hermès, and resellers for the most prestigious brands!
A Snack at Miremont
After a good long shopping session, head to Miremont in Biarritz! This tearoom is a veritable institution here. The salon’s specialties, like the Basque cake with cherry preserves, are absolutely delicious, as are its other pastries. The service is often marginal, but you’ll forget all about that when you take your first bite!
Explore the Inland Region
If you have a vehicle, head straight for the little villages of the inland area. I’d recommend for example Espelette, an extremely charming village famous for its celebrated hot peppers. There are also lovely trips you can take on foot and other villages to explore. Don’t forget La Rhune, which thanks to its 900 meters (2950 ft) in altitude offers a superb view of the coast.
Eat at a Fabulous Restaurant
The Basque coast has eleven Michelin-starred restaurants (2017 rankings), each with one star. You can therefore choose from a wide range of options to discover the local gastronomy, each featuring a renowned head chef. You may want to take advantage of the occasion and enjoy a gourmet meal at one of these establishments.
Check Out the Casino
The Casino Barrière is an institution in Biarritz! Its location right across from the main beach is an asset. The casino’s Art Deco façade is marvelous, and for those who enjoy gambling on occasion, this is the perfect place to quench your thirst to play. And after all, if you win the jackpot, you need only go back over my list of things to do and head out for another round!
Stay in a Five-Star Hotel
If you’re in Biarritz and you’re a sucker for the charm of yesteryear, you absolutely must stay at the Hôtel du Palais. This palace is absolutely fantastic: flawless service, all the amenities you could desire with an outdoor heated pool, a Guerlain spa center… but above all, a Second Empire style that will transport you to another era. I’d welcome you to read my post dedicated to this hotel to learn more.
In Saint-Jean-de-Luz, I recommend that you stay at the Grand Hotel Thalasso & Spa. This hotel features a perfect mix of old and contemporary elements, but the magnificent spa is what I really fell for. Why not spend a few days there with a personalized treatment program? To learn more, check out my blog post on the subject here.
You should absolutely take advantage of this beautiful region in the spring or fall, when there aren’t too many people! The little boutiques, restaurants, and activities will still be accessible, but you’ll be able to enjoy them in a more peaceful atmosphere. As for how many days you should stay, that depends on your plans; you can easily spend two to three days there, or stay for the week.