The French resort, which was graced with the attention of emperors and their families is still popular and crowded. Vacationers come for the balneological treatments, generous sunshine and a vivid experience of visiting the sights of the Biarritz resort in France.
History of the Biaritz Resort
Biarritz is located in southeastern France, close to the Spanish border, the distance from Paris is 780 km. You can get here by high-speed trains and by plane. The region is often called the Basque country, and the name of the resort is translated as “two cliffs. Its special charm and rich history attracts tourists to the Atlantic coast, eager to feel the inexpressible magnetism of this place.
The city is hidden from winds and bad weather in a cozy bay of the Bay of Biscay. Territorially it borders with the cities of Bayonne and Anglet, and since no one cared to mark the official borders, then making a pleasant stroll through the streets of one city can imperceptibly be already in the other.
The first settlements in the hilly area with thickets of gorse were recorded in 840. The inhabitants were engaged in whaling. The city was gradually growing, with new neighborhoods coming right onto the coast. In the 17th century doctors praised the healing air and climatic features of the city, on their recommendations to Biarritz came the first vacationers seeking to improve their health.
The peak of popularity came in the 19th century, when the resort became a place of rest of the crowned heads:
- Napoleon III and his wife;
- Queen Victoria;
- Edward VII;
- George V;
- Alfonso XIII.
At the beginning of the next century, bohemians began to arrive in Biarritz. V. Nabokov, F. Chaliapin, A. Chekhov, S. Bernard, A. Rubinstein, V. Aksenov rested here. Kings were replaced by presidents and high-ranking officials. Nevertheless, the modern resort is available to all, regardless of title or merit. Tourist season lasts from the 20th of May to October.
Top 9 attractions in Biarritz
After the first rapture of the magnificent beaches and wide water areas, it is worth looking around and remember that the city is many centuries, as evidenced by archaeological finds and historical monuments.
The Church of St. Joseph, which was founded by the Church of the Holy Trinity. Eugenia
The graceful neo-Gothic structure has become one of the most visited attractions in Biarritz, the photo of the church stands out among the famous cathedrals of France, despite the fact that it was built just over a century ago. Already in the 20th century a bell tower was added to the main building. The church stands on a hill, offering a pastoral view of the surrounding countryside, and the building itself is striking in its proportion and the openwork decorations that adorn its façade in abundance.
The interior is full of light thanks to the many windows, the interior is decorated with stained glass paintings by Luc-Olivier Merson, known as the author of mosaics and stained glass windows of the Paris Sacre-Coeur. Above the altar is a model of a sailing ship. It was given to the church in fulfillment of a vow.
St. Virgin Cliff
Formerly it was part of the peninsula, by order of Napoleon III, it was artificially separated from the mainland plate, connecting openwork bridge, a project created by H. Eiffel. Its length is 75 meters. The engineer was interested in the difficult task and calculated the design taking into account storm waves and strong winds.
The safety margin is so great that you can still walk on the bridge without any fear in all weathers.
The cliff is considered miraculous because, according to legend, it began to shine during the storm, like a lighthouse. This light pointed the way of the sinking sailors, and they were saved. In 1895, crosses and a statue of the Virgin Mary were erected at the summit to commemorate the miracle.
Just off the coast on a high rocky promontory rises the snow-white cone of an ancient lighthouse. It appeared in 1832 to ensure the safe passage of ships in the bay. The height is 4 meters and the number of steps of the spiral staircase is 248. After overcoming them, tourists enjoy stunning views of the bay and the surrounding area from the observation deck of the lighthouse.
A caretaker lived in the room until 1953, then electricity was installed, and a little later the system was converted to automatic mode. The beacon is active, once every 10 seconds it gives a bright flash of white. Listed as a historic monument in France.
Historians believe that it was with this building that the resort began to grow in popularity. The spectacular red-brick mansion with contrasting white windows is reminiscent of a knight’s castle in miniature. Napoleon III and his wife stayed there during their visit to the resort. After the vacation, the idea of building your own villa on the beach. She was named “Eugenia” in honor of the monarch’s wife.
This signaled the beginning of mass development, where everyone tried to assert their status through original designs of houses in a prestigious location.
Church of Saint Martin
The modest, ascetic temple is the oldest religious building in the city. It is famous for its regular organ concerts and the international organ competition held within its walls. The unique acoustics and magnificent instrument delight music lovers with works by Bach, Handel, Pachelbel, and Frescobaldi.
The church was built in the 12th century, three centuries later it was reconstructed and in this form it survives to this day. Colored stained glass windows were the main decoration, and there are modest bas-reliefs almost under the vaults. The church is named after a nationally revered saint.
Her history proves that monarchs are also partial to sweets. Edward VII, Alphonse XIII, and Amelia of Orleans visited the tea room. The price for the desserts is truly royal, but the taste also meets the boldest dreams.
The first owner, Etienne Singer, opened the place in 1872. The second owner, Joseph Mirmont, gave the patisserie his name, by which it has been known far beyond the resort for 140 years. To feel like a royal lady, it’s enough to come here for a cup of tea with a delightful cake based on an old recipe.
Opposite the cliff with a sculpture of the Virgin Mary is a maritime museum. Its facade, like the prow of a ship, juts forward, proudly dissecting the space. The museum exhibits are alive. In specially equipped aquariums there are about 150 species of animals and fish, turtles, mollusks, crustaceans, which are representatives of the fauna of the Bay of Biscay.
The lower level is devoted to whaling; the collections include skeletons of large fish and mammals, parts of ship gear, photographs, documents, and films. Very interesting entertaining shows, the recognized stars of which are seals.
The exposition has recently been expanded to include representatives of the Caribbean and Atlantic.
Museum of Asia
It is one of the five largest exhibition halls devoted to the art and culture of the East. Exhibits came from India, Nepal, China and Tibet. Some of them are more than 5,000 years old. The collection devoted to Tibet includes bronze statuettes of gods, artifacts, and drawings on fabrics.
The booths in the Indian Hall contain jewelry, clothing, ritual objects, and miniatures.
The rapid transformation of a quiet fishing village into a fashionable resort was not in vain for the architecture of the city. The port has also undergone changes. In 1780 they built a new port, and decided to reconstruct the old one, located in a small quiet cove, but the realization of the plans postponed for almost 100 years. The old building was protected by a dam and the bay has become a favorite place for bathing residents, to the piers still fit pleasure boats and boats.
A quiet oasis of antiquity among the bustling modernity, it has become a place for leisurely strolls, where the doors of small restaurants with national cuisine and fragrant coffee are hospitably open.
Biarritz sights on the map
The resort town covers a small area, so many attractions can be reached during a leisurely stroll. The main reference points for finding them will be the lighthouse and the central square of the city.
The tourist map reveals such interesting sites as:
- Imperial Chapel;
- Alexander Nevsky Cathedral;
- city synagogue;
- Hotel du Palais;
- Museum “Planet of Chocolate”.
You can visit them as part of a tour or on their own, because it is simply impossible to get lost in the city. Holidays at the favorite resort of the monarchs will be remembered for the amazing experiences and vivid emotions.
Climatic features of the resort
A special climate is made up of several components. Warm Gulf Stream water warms the temperature to comfortable for swimming, so the bathing season at the beaches of the resort opens much earlier than in other parts of the country. The hilly terrain keeps the winds at bay and the secluded bay is perfect for a relaxing beach vacation.
The second feature of the resort were small seasonal temperature differences, from +8 in winter to +25 in summer. A milder and wetter climate is suitable for people suffering from allergic reactions, skin diseases. The therapeutic effect of the resort begins from the moment you arrive. Fresh air, filled with the aromas of sea salt and greenery gradually relaxes, puts you in a positive mood, eases breathing and releases the grip of anxiety and tension.
You can continue treatment and consolidate the effects of the healing climate in the Thalassotherapy Institute, which offers underwater massage, Sharko shower, algae wraps, pressotherapy and other procedures.