Food, beach, relaxation, sweet treats, and wine – the French sure know how to enjoy life to the fullest during the summer months in Biarritz. We spent two weeks enjoying a beautiful life in Biarritz, France as part of our 1-year trip around the world.
Biarritz is located on the west coast of France and draws the attention of surfers and high profile guests. We are neither, but there is something about their mixed ways of life that makes the vibe of Biarritz welcoming and relaxing. This past summer we tried to immerse ourselves in the French beach culture life.
What makes life in Biarritz so beautiful?
Let us tell you!
Oh, the food will make your mouth water and add inches to your waist, but it is so worth it. Every day locals and tourist venture to the market full of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, olives, seafood, and anything else you can imagine eating. Going to the market daily was probably one of the best highlights of our stay in the area. The food is remarkably fresh and the vendors take pride in what they sell to their customers.
We learned from one of the bread vendors about the 12-hour process it takes to make his bread and the differences in the traditional Basque pies. Many of the vendors couldn’t speak English but between my small amount of French and Luca’s better ability to speak French, we did ok.
The seafood market has what is fresh and when they are sold out they close for the day. There is nothing in “the back”, and your options are what you see. Luca was brave enough to try his first oyster – not a fan but sampling the different types of food is exactly what traveling is about.
We cooked most of our meals in our apartment we rented from Airbnb. But, I would recommend that you eat out for some meals in order to taste the flavours of the local chefs. They love to use butter and we love they do too!
Here are a few restaurants we liked:
Bar Jean – A very busy restaurant, and after eating there we found out why. Great flavours, good size portions and the place to be. The French eat late, so if your kids are hungry this may take a while to get into or plan to go earlier. Otherwise, you can order a glass of wine and sit on the steps to wait for a spot to open.
Le Cab – A great place if you are looking for a burger! The portions are large, so keep that in mind when ordering food for kids. Our kids could have shared one burger.
Les Ours Blanc – There was nothing better than enjoying a glass of wine and fresh fish on the patio of this restaurant as the sunset. This restaurant overlooks the beach, Plague du Port Vieux!
The beaches are an eclectic mix of locals, tourist, surfers and glitzy sunbathers. There are a few beaches in the area, so our recommendation would be to try them all out to find out which one you like best. All the public beaches have lifeguards, food and bathroom services close by.
Plage du Port Vieux – This beach is in a small inlet, and usually calm which makes it great for kids. The beach is smooth pebbles/sand, so it was nice not to need water shoes for the kids. The pebbles/sand wasn’t good for building sand castles but it was easy to clean up! The water level fluctuated during the time we were there, so if you are lucky you might be able to jump off the small cliff. But, don’t set up beach base too close to the water, it will come up with the tide.
Le Grand Plage – This main beach is the largest of all of them, with the casino and fancy hotels only a stone’s throw away. The iconic images of the brightly covered sun umbrellas lining the beaches give the glamorous feel this beach. During low tide, you can walk closer to the cliffs and search for small fish, hermit crabs and other sea treasure. This beach smoother sand where the kids were able to spend more time building sand castles on days where the waves were a bit bigger. It is shallow, but again the water levels fluctuated so keep a close eye on the kids. This beach also offers great views to be able to watch the surfers and boogie boarders in the designated areas.
Plage Côte des Basques – This is a beach that is the place to go for surfing. It is a surfers paradise! We didn’t spend any time “at” the beach, but we did enjoy strolling along the coast and watching the surf schools and surfers have their turns on the waves. It doesn’t have a sunbathing area or place for small kids. But, if you are looking to surf or learn to surf this will most likely be the beach you spend your days.
Life slows down in Biarritz. This place will get you away from the hustle and bustle of busy days. Take a long leisurely walk along the coast, browse at the local shopping stores, have a nap on the beach and sleep in late. This town doesn’t get moving until later in the morning, which was really nice to take 8 am runs and have nobody on the streets. Take long lunches, drink wine and relax. Find a park bench and stare at the ocean, the local artist or kids playing in the squares. Biarritz will make you slow down and enjoy some family downtime, which we probably all needed.
The Sweet Treats
So many great sweet treats can be found on a late night walk after supper. Our favourites were the chocolate or pistachio ice cream, crepes with Nutella and waffles. Somehow if you are walking and eating sweet treats those seem to cancel each other out, right? Indulge in the desserts and pastries that this town has to offer, you won’t be disappointed.
Need I say more! The region has some great wines to sample and try for very reasonable prices, so be sure to try out a few!
Biarritz is a perfect spot for families to go and relax. Nothing moves too quick here, which may take some adjustments but living the beautiful Biarritz life on the French coast was exactly what our family needed.
- The best time to visit with more consistent warmer weather is September/October, but prices of accommodations go up during that time. July average temperature when we visited was 25 C.
- There are not too many playgrounds or play structures for kids in Biarritz. So maybe bring/buy a soccer ball or something for kids to toss around in the squares.
- There are plenty of shopping stores to buy sunscreen, beach toys, clothes, baby food, etc or anything else you may need to buy for your stay.
- There is very late nightlife in Biarritz if you want to partake, but with a family, I would recommend you try to do your research for accommodations that are quiet and not close to bars. Our place was on the inside of the building (so not great views), but it was quiet.
- Visit the Biarritz tourist office for finding out more details of things to do in the area. We booked our bus tickets for a day trip to San Sebastian, Spain there and they were very helpful.
- There is a local small bus shuttle service that is free to certain spots in the city, so this can be helpful with kids.
- Look for reasonable direct flights to Biarritz with RyanAir. Our family of 4 was able to get one-way flights from London, UK for $400 CAN.
- Accommodations – 14 nights at Airbnb. The apartment was fantastic the only drawback was no wifi (which we knew in advance).
We travelled to Biarritz, France in July 2017. Kids were ages 5 & 7.
Find out more of our favourites spots in Europe.