South of France for sun, surf and seafood
Bonjour mes amis! Naturally I'm biased towards Biarritz because not only is it the perfect sun holiday destination but it's also where I married the old ball and chain 3 years ago! So, grab a cup of coffee, glass of wine or a cocktail and let me take you to the sun. #funinthesun #biarritzfrance #swoon
I've lost count of how many times I've visited the South of France but with each encounter it creates new memories of bubbles, mussels and bronzed bodies! The direct flight from Dublin to Biarritz is with RyanAir. Yes, you'll have to endure the banana coloured container they call an airplane but the 2 hour direct flight gets you to the tranquil destination. #nofrills #scratchcards #atleasttheyhavecider
When you arrive to Biarritz, the small airport is welcoming and easy to navigate. There is a taxi & bus area to the left of the arrival gate and you can get to city centre via taxi for approx €15-18euro. No need to tip as all services in France are included but feel free to award a gratuity as you see fit.
I recommend travelling to Biarritz in September either at the beginning or middle of the month. The kids have returned to school (thank God) making it slightly less crowded on the beaches. Plus, I've always found the best weather (high temperatures of 28+ is in September). Flights are slightly more affordable if you avoid July/August (high season) which is always a bonus!
For hotels, you have several choices! Le Regina (my preference), Hotel du Palais (ridiculously overpriced as it was built for Princess Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III), Hotel Sofitel and Hotel Mercure (to name a few).
For moi, Le Regina Hotel ticks all the boxes. From the moment you enter the lobby you'll be glad you chose this chic accommodation. There's a spa, swimming pool, ocean views, an amazing restaurant, parking, and a stylish bar to keep you entertained.
Le Regina is a 15 min walk to city centre downhill (keep in mind for your return journey) that meanders along the seawall. The views and architecture of the basque houses are impressive and so are the well groomed areas as you descend into Biarritz city centre.
I would recommend a day at the spa within Hotel du Palais which is located on the ocean front. The palace was constructed in 1855 and no expense was sparred for Princess Eugenie. The golden winged statues, burgundy shudders and luxurious grounds reminds us all to keep playing the lotto! I would recommend the 80 min Imperial Relaxing Massages which includes a full body massage and facial. When you arrive to spa reception you'll feel the 5 star quality immediately. All staff are professional and equipped for speaking in English. The entrance smells of mixed oils and Guerlain products which are welcoming and equally relaxing. You'll be escorted to your private suite which faces onto the sea so no relaxation music is required as once the windows are opened, the sounds of the waves crashing onto the beach are with you for the next 80 minutes.
Now I'm no stranger to spas but Hotel du Palais takes the cake! You have access to the indoor swimming pool and sauna and don't forget there's a small boutique for purchasing designer wear and beauty products. I mean, who doesn't need a new bathing suit, sunglasses and perfume when visiting a spa?!? #divaforever
Complete your spa day on the hotel terrace overlooking the beach and Biarritz promenade with a cocktail. Yes, you'll pay 20 euro for a cocktail but it's accompanied by a trio of snacks (olives, nuts and crisps). Perfect combo after a day of pampering. #champagne #lightbites
Biarritz is renowned for its surfing. As the waves roll in, you can easily see why the championships take place on an annual basis. I would recommend heading out with an instructor or, if you're as lucky as I was.... contact a friend who is skilled in surfing. Tip: The weight of the surfboard coupled with the speed of the waves can be a recipe for disaster should it hit you in the head. Trust me, I should know! #noobsurfer
If you're on the adventurous side, I would encourage everyone to try paragliding with Paramoteur 64. It's located in close proximity to St Jean de Luz and yes, you'll want a Go Pro for this experience! Your instructor is behind you every step of the way and when you start climbing towards the edge of the mountain, you'll be thankful he's with you! As you ascend towards the clouds, you won't believe your eyes. It doesn't feel natural being strapped into a bicycle and flying over the St Jean de Luz coast but once you're up there, you won't be disappointed. #flying #scareofheights
If scuba diving is on your agenda then take baby steps like I did! Immersing yourself in a deep pool with all the equipment is a great first step and it provides assimilation of what's to come next. We visited Procean in Biarritz (scuba diving school & dive shop) where diving instructor Nicolas Schalk took me under his wing. He's everything you want in an instructor... patient, experienced, safety oriented and he has a great sense of humour! We even had time for a little dance on the bottom of the pool /o\ #dirtydancing #nopeeing #cantbreath
Just when you thought there couldn't be anymore to see or do in Biarritz, there's always time for gliding in the sky with Vol a Voile Itxassou. Being pulled behind a plane with what seems to look like an elastic band is not something I was eagerly awaiting to do. But, when your husband signs you up and there are no time for questions, just go for it.
This is a fantastic way to experience the views of the basque countryside and mountains. Don't forget your GoPro and keep in mind that if you're not partial to confined spaces, this may not be for you! Your instructor is right behind you from start to finish and you're not required to do anything other than take in the views and relax. Once the plane tows you up into the sky, they'll detach the cable and away you glide. I wouldn't pass this opportunity if you're not afraid of heights... or planes.... or motion sickness! (Check out our videos at the end of the blog)
If you're able to travel in July then ensure that attending the Fete de Bayonne is on top of your list. The festival typically runs at the end of July over the course of 5 days. It's a series of festivals in the town of Bayonne. Attendees of the festival sport the red and white colours which includes a red scarf and red belt following suit to the colours of Pamplona. The festival attracts more than 1 million visitors over the 5 days and it's a quite a sight to see from a tourist's perspective. It's a safe, well organised and lively festival for family and friends. So enjoy the music, sing songs, performers and the local sangria!
And finally.......the FOOD of Biarritz! Where oh where do I start and end? Seafood is abundant and unbelievably fresh. Meat is succulent and cooked to perfection (avoid asking for well done), desserts are sweet, fragrant and tantalise your taste buds. Your choices are endless so try everything!
Here are some must see venues for some serious nom noms & food porn! Miguel Café, Los Dos Hermanos, La Mamounia, Kostaldea and Les Baigneuses.
Biarritz, France is easy to fall in love with. The beaches are idyllic, clean with white sand. The city is small enough to navigate but also large enough to keep you occupied all week long. The sights, the food, the people and culture all make this sun destination an easy win. So brush up on your French (not that you need it) and get booking your flights to Biarritz.