It was the waves that attracted us to Biarritz in the first place, but the laidback vibe, plentiful seafood, and indie spirit of the Basque coastal resort town are what charmed our pants off.
Located a little more than a stone throw away from Spain (a distance of less than 25 km), in France’s Atlantic southwestern coast, Biarritz has rocketed to the top of the world’s trendy surfing towns. But long before it became a trending geotag on Instagram, it’s actually widely believed that Côte des Basques was the first break surfed in Europe thanks to the 1956 on location filming of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
And even longer before surf culture arrived and thrived, it was the vacation spot of Empress Eugénie de Montijo, the wife of Napoleon III who made holidays in the town a thing, back in the mid-19th century. The Hôtel du Palais (then palace, now luxury hotel) is one of the remnants of that time.
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All these cultural influences blend together to make Biarritz one fabulous place for a French holiday. It’s a nice balance of hip, chic, and historical, not to mention the great shopping and food too.
So, when you’re not surfing long waves at Côte des Basques, soaking up rays at the Grand Plage, or taking in panoramic views at the Biarritz Lighthouse, check out some of our favorite little spots to shop and eat in Biarritz:
The Wild Bazar & Delmar for knickknacks and sweet surfboards
You certainly don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy Biarritz, but we do have to say that if you’re the nomadic surf type, it should be on your surf bucket list. And if you’re looking for a board, Delmar, a local shaper makes beautiful custom creations from nose-rider logs to retro twin fins. We’ve taken a few of his longboards out for a spin and we’ve found that not only are they extremely stylish, but they’re also a lot of fun to play around on.
The shaper is located right in the heart of town, at the Wild Bazar. The concept shop looks like a modern-bohemian Pinterest board dream, full of handicrafts like woven baskets, Berber rugs, Moroccan ceramics, hand-carved wooden kitchen items, and of course, some sick surfboards.
11 Rue Alcide Augey, 64200 Biarritz
Kickasss for cool tees
If you’re looking for something you can bring home with you and wear to remember your time in Biarritz, we recommend the local brand, Kickasss, for limited edition tees made from 100 percent organic cotton. All the brand’s prints are designed in-house and badass (hence the name), with images like bearded dudes riding custom motorcycles and skeletons praying for waves (we sprang for this one in pink for EUR35, kid you not).
A cool detail, so you know for real these tees are far from mass-produced and you won’t be matching other bike-loving tourists? Each shirt has your purchase number out of the total number of copies they’ve made of that color and print.
37 Rue Mazagran, 64200 Biarritz
Woodstache for ecological, natural goods
Right next door to Kickasss is Woodstache, a shop with all sorts of handmade wooden stuff coming from a workshop in Capbreton, Landes. Items include phone cases, wall art, paintings, and some neat clocks that come in skateboard and surfboard options.
It was the corky coasters (EUR11.90), however, hand-stamped with all of Biarritz’s famous beaches, that got us. Not going to lie, we seriously regret not picking up one of those awesome wood laptop cases while we were there.
37 Rue Mazagran, 64200 Biarritz
Les Halles for fresh oysters
The Basque are proud of their food and after eating our way through the region, we can’t blame them. Basque cuisine heavily features seafood; think potato and tuna stew, baby eels, and fish stews (they’re all about that cod). To get your seafood fix, head to Biarritz’s local market halls, Les Halles. The place dates back to 1885 and has all sorts of seafood from lobster to clams to mussels to fish aplenty.
Order some oysters, however, for an eating experience that’s a little less Basque and a little more ‘pan-French’ — the French are said to be the leaders of the oyster industry in Europe. There’s an option at one of the stalls to get six oysters with a glass of white wine for just EUR7.50. There are tables at the market, but we prefer standing and consuming them directly at the bar for the experience and optimum freshness.
Rue des Halles, Centre Ville
Bar Jean for moules frites
There are a number of restaurants and bars right outside Les Halles for more sit-down-style dining. Head hungry to Bar Jean and grab a breezy table outside for the iconic French favorite, moules frites: mussels and fries.
The restaurant was always packed whenever we passed and after trying the mussels, we can see why. Although not cheap, at EUR14, the portion of moules frites was generous AF. The sauce that the mussels came in was salty, savory, and there was tons of fried garlic in there. YUM. The fries were thin — but not too thin — with a good outer-crisp to inside-fluff ratio going on.
5 Rue des Halles
Le Surfing for seaside dining
For direct at-the-beach food options, there is Le Surfing, overlooking Côte des Basques. You can cozy up and watch the surfers rip from the long row of tables lined up out front, or enjoy the view from inside, since the whole wall facing the beach is windows. As you’d expect from the restaurant’s name, the aesthetic is white with pops of blue and yellow and there’s old school surfing memorabilia scattered around.
Entrees like burgers, salads, and foie gras range from EUR13-18, while meat and fish plates are in the EUR17-25 range. The poke bowl with raw tuna, avocado, seaweed, and rice vinegar is a nice, light option, perfect for a little fuel before a surf session.
Plage de la Côte des Basques, 9 Boulevard du Prince de Galles
Bali Bowls for your daily dose of acai
Call us basic millennials, but we’re hoes for a good acai bowl as a light pre-surf brekkie or a snack break between wandering around and seeing the sights. Meeting the superfood demands of the hip folk in Biarritz is the takeaway-cafe and smoothie bowl shop, Bali Bowls.
Acai not your jam? Bali Bowls also has smoothie bowls featuring other ingredients, with spinach, pear, and banana bases. Prices range from EUR7.5-9 for a bowl. In addition to the bowls, they have some tasty looking gluten-free waffles decked out in toppings of your choice like different types of fruit and hot chocolate sauce.
18 Place Clemenceau