Thursday, May 5, 2011

While in Biarritz...

We do have a free day in Biarritz, there on the southwest coast of France. There are interesting tours nearby, but also many things to do in town.

First, an overview of Biarritz from our friends at wikipedia:

"Vikings who invaded Gascony in 840 settled in Biarritz, which later
participated in the whaling trade. Biarritz is a Basque name with locative suffix -itz (cp. Isturitz) attested Bearriz in 1170, Bearids in 1186, Bearritz in 1249.

"Biarritz has long made its fortune from the sea: as a whaling settlement from the twelfth century onwards, in the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic properties, inspiring patients to make pilgrimages to the beach for alleged cures for their ailments.

"Biarritz became more renowned in 1854 when Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III) built a palace on the beach (now the Hôtel du Palais). The British royal family regularly took vacations in Biarritz: European royalty such as Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and Alfonso XIII of Spain were frequent visitors.

"Biarritz's casino (opened 10 August 1901) and beaches make the town a notable tourist centre for Europeans, and East Coast North Americans. The city has also become a prime destination for surfers from around the world, developing a nightlife and surf based culture."

Eugenie Palace

Other things to see include the Asiatica Museum, the Museum of the Sea (with 24 aquariums,they boast), the Museum of Chocolat [Planete Musée Chocolat], and two casinos.

Biarritz is much known for its beaches, nightlife and surfing. There is an international competition, the Biarritz Surf Festival, 10th - 14th July 2011, but we'll miss that by a month.

I did find this note: "Considered at the European Mecca for surfing and one of the best spots in the world, the Biarritz area attracts amateurs & professionals alike from 4 corners of the world who appreciate the exceptional quality of the waves there. There are 9 surf schools in Biarritz."


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