Your ultimate guide to planning the best Biarritz holiday in France

Well before coronavirus was a threat to international mobility, I could effortlessly come up with a handful of arguments to rationalize the cost – in terms of both euros and tons of carbon emissions added to the atmosphere — associated with travelling.

You know those invaluable life lessons you can only discover through travel like learning to be patient while trying to communicate in a foreign language and adapting to all sorts of situations such as getting sick and dealing with lost luggage?

While there’s still quite a lot I need to grasp about life, once in a while, I yearn to go on a trip where I can ditch my typical frenetic mentality to see or experience as many things as possible within a short period of time. A trip where instead of racing to do it all, I can wake up without plans for the day. A trip where I can fully immerse myself in art, nature and local culture without the need to constantly check the time.

Our last trip to Biarritz was just that; a family vacation that wasn’t gonna challenge me or give me perspective on my place in the world, and I was OK with that.

Located between the sea and mountains, Biarritz is a must-visit for outdoor lovers and photographers.

Sunshine was definitely one of the primary reasons why I was so joyous about our upcoming trip to France but so was the ocean – I longed to surf and watch sunsets. I longed to see it, taste it and feel it because the ocean always makes me pause, think and dream. It sets my hearts free in a way there’s no match for it.

I also yearned to explore rocky inlets, and I wanted to get up early to watch the sun make its way into a new day.

Once in Biarritz, we quickly settled into a relaxed pattern; early morning breakfast on the balcony followed by the walk to one of the beaches where local surf schools were getting ready for a busy day ahead followed by

We took a step back from our to-do lists and Instagram-worthy photo ops and instead embraced what the local community has to offer.

One of many beautiful, white sand beaches in Biarritz

Your ultimate guide to planning the best Biarritz holiday in France

We started with knowing so little about this Basque country and were surprised how much we learned in just a week by exploring, surfing and interacting with locals. In this blog post, we would like to provide valuable tips for planning a trip to Biarritz.

We certainly don’t claim to be experts because there is so much more to see and learn about this corner of France than a week could cover but here are useful insights on visiting Biarritz.


Arriving in Biarritz

By plane | There are direct flights with budget carrier Ryanair from Ireland, United Kingdom and  Belgium as well as with Flybe from Belfast, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. You can also travel to Biarritz from nearby Spanish town’s such as San Sebastian and Pamplona.

Biarritz Airport | Located only 4 kilometres from the towns centre means Biarritz is an ideal place for a weekend break. There is a regular and very convenient bus service, number 14, costing 1 euro one way or 2 euro for a 24-hour pass. You’ll find the bus stop just outside the Biarritz Airport, and it runs every half an hour.

By train | You can also arrive at Biarritz Train station from places like Morcenx, Lourdes, and Dax. The train station is located 3 kilometres from the town centre and is served by night, regional as well as high-speed TGV trains.

Getting around | Public transport in Biarritz is inexpensive and well-developed. Buses frequently run throughout the city from early morning till late at night, connecting airport, train station and nearby towns. However, we found Biarritz to be a very compact and walkable city where all the major attractions can be reached on foot.


Where to eat in Biarritz

If you love a good meal then you have come to a perfect place because Basques certainly know how to cook and enjoy the food. There is no shortage of restaurants specialising in authentic Basque cuisine providing an overwhelming feast for the senses from the fresh fish caught in the Bay of Biscay to the famous red and green peppers, roasted, peeled and sautéed in herbs and garlic.

Biarritz is scattered with cosy cafes and lovely bakeries where you can indulge in fresh pastries, cakes, macaroons, and state of the art chocolates. While you will possibly gawk at the price of some of them, the textures, flavours and fillings are perfectly combined to give your taste buds real satisfaction. Check out our tried and tested favourites below.

Le Surfing | brilliant place right at the bottom of the  Côte des Basque. Food and drinks at Le Surfing are a little bit pricey, but the ocean views at the sunset and a funky surf interior are tough to beat.

Tea room and patisserie Miremont is the oldest café in Biarritz, operating since 1880,  overlooking the beach, where you can get a brilliant selection of cakes and ice creams. Just like most things in Biarritz, it is not cheap, but the views over the Grande Plague beach and the pastries are well worth it.

The Beach House | We loved this place for its organic food, cosy fireplace, and stylish wooden decks. If you fancy spending a relaxed afternoon to soak up its idyllic vibe, get in touch with The Beach House, located in Anglet, to make a reservation.

For fresh bread and pastries | We went to the best boulangeries in our neighbourhood. This “little one on the corner” bakery sells fresh sandwiches, croissants, little pizzas and the line during lunchtime is usually out the door.

Le Surfing – a great place to watch the surfers as the sun goes down.

Top things to see and do in Biarritz

Biarritz is a beautiful city that’s jam-packed with so many unusual things to see and do that it merely requires a repeat visit and there is so much to share and write about it that I just can’t find a way to do it briefly.

There are a good few landmarks and sites to see in the town – you’ll love Place Sainte-Eugenie square where beautiful- inside and out –  Sainte Eugenie church and a good few restaurants are located.


#1. Visit Biarritz Lighthouse

Biarritz lighthouse, built in 1834, marks a place where the ocean meets the land and the view from the top of it deliver fantastic views of its beaches and orange rooftops.

This slender lighthouse clings to the cliff 73 meters above sea level, and you have to climb over 200  steps to the very top for the all-embracing coastal views. The spiral staircase is tiny, and if it is busy, you have to patiently wait in a queue for your turn as the number of visitors is limited due to the small space.

Lighthouse is surrounded by a lovely tree-lined park with wooden benches scattered throughout so you can sit down and enjoy fantastic sea views. Free parking is available on site, and there is a lovely café next door as well as a small food truck serving beverages and food.

Biarritz Lighthouse

#2. Stop by Les Halles food Market

A vast collection of gourmet food counters with regional cheeses, pastries, oysters, fresh fruit, and vegetables are on sale in Les Halles food market. We could not resist returning every morning to pick up lunch essential and to chat with locals. Les Halles food market opens early every day, and you can even join a local market tour that offers food tasting and insights into culinary traditions.

A beautiful market that’s bursting with colours, smells and various flavours.

#3. Relax on Biarritz beaches

Slow down and soak up the warm rays of the sun during the day or settle and enjoy an explosion of colour for those few minutes before the sun goes down after a long day of sightseeing on one of the soft sand beaches in Biarritz. If the main beaches are too crowded then go for a walk to the Miariam beach or head out further afield where you can find miles and miles of soft dunes.

Biarritz has become something of a Mecca for surfers who flock to ride the waves.

#4. Explore Biarritz Aquarium

Located in a stunning building perched on the cliff-top and displaying various exhibits over a number of floors, Biarritz Aquarium is a wonderful place to lose yourself for a few hours. Take your time to wander from one aquarium to another and enjoy the displays of jellyfish and be amazed by the last final fish tank where the sharks, groupers & barracudas swim along with each other.

It is a beautiful well-kept aquarium and when we visited in May it was quiet and you could take your time observing the creatures not feeling rushed or pushed out of the way as we have experienced at some venues.

If you time your visit accordingly, you can enjoy one of the main events – feeding of the seals which usually takes place twice daily. The keeper explains the habits of these amazing marine creatures as they munch on fresh mackerels.

Biarritz Aquarium is home to blacktip reef shark and loggerhead turtle.

Great day trips from Biarritz

One of the remarkable things about Biarritz is its exceptional coastal location, situated between the Atlantic ocean, Pyrenees and not too far from the Spanish border. Why not take advantage and go for a drive through the mountains or visit one of many fishing villages along the coast?

  • San Sebastian |  as the driving distance from Biarritz to San Sebastian is only 50 kilometres, a quick road trip to this beautiful Spanish city is a no-brainer. France and Spain are part of the Schengen zone, so there is no natural border between the Irun and Hendaye. Besides perfect long sandy beaches and a thriving surfing scene, in this charming place, you will find the biggest museum in Basque history, Santa Clara Island and the beautiful old town.
  • Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port | is 55 kilometres from Biarritz. Don’t overlook this beautiful place located in the foothills of the majestic Pyrenees. Saint-Jean-Pied-Port is a charming, little French town, known to be the traditional starting point of Camino Frances.
  • Bayonne | One of the most accessible day trips from Biarritz has to be to nearby Bayonne located at the confluence of the Nive and Adour rivers. You can catch a bus from Aillet to Lachepaillet and the average journey time is just 20 minutes. The best things to do in Bayonne include Bayonne Cathedral, Petite Bayonne and Japanese-inspired Botanical Garden.
  • Sare | Make your way to the nearby town Sare from where you can travel to La Rhune, a 905 m high mountain, accessible via an old train, for fantastic views of the surrounding ocean and rugged coast.
Bayonne is capital of the French Basque Country.

Where to surf in Biarritz

It is said that surfing in Europe began in the 1950s on the beaches of Biarritz, and American screenwriter Peter Viertel was the first to ride the waves.

Did you know that today doctors in Biarritz are prescribing surfing and paddleboarding lessons as a cure for various illnesses, including depression and arthritis? In some cases, sessions replace all medication.  Because of large amounts of seaweed, which adds iodine to the water, it becomes healing. How incredibly genius, yet simple and life-changing is this idea?

If you are planning on riding the waves, there are numerous locations you have to check out. Biarritz offers a great variety of consistent waves. Spring and autumn season is best for uncrowded line-ups while winter brings in powerful waves.

  • The Grande Plage |  is the main beach, located in the heart of Biarritz. This is where you will find the towering Casino and the famous Hotel du Palais. When it comes to surfing it’s the most popular spot, so it can get very crowded.
  • La Côte des Basques  | exposed, untamed and framed by rugged cliffs, this beach is great for beginners at low tide. There are plenty of surf schools offering surf lessons and equipment rental for reasonable prices. In the summertime, when the conditions are rights, it is the ideal place for longboard surfing. However, watch out for the high tide, it is when the water comes all the way up to the rocks, make sure you do not get caught up.
  • Marbella Beach  | is a beautiful sandy and scenic beach located to the south of La Côte des Basques. Generally less crowded, Marbella Beach is popular with swimmers, bodyboarders, and surfers. There is no surf school nearby, so you have to bring your equipment.
Biarritz is one of Europe’s most famous surfing destinations, and it’s easy to see why

Where to stay in Biarritz

When it comes to booking accommodation, know what’s really important to you. Are you willing to spend more money on a big and comfortable bed or you can easily share a dormitory with other like-minded travellers just to have that extra cash for a meaningful travel experience?

We stayed in a rented one-bedroom Airbnb apartment, which was lovely and spacious enough for the three of us.  In addition to the great location, close to the beach, funky restaurants, bakery, and shopping, the place had a balcony with a sea view and a little kitchenette.

If you are looking for something much fancier, you can always splurge and stay at a lavish five star, 19th-century Hotel du Palais built by Napoleon III  for his spouse, pamper yourself in one of the charmingly elegant French mansions, choose a beachfront hotel or stay in a cheerful country house on the outskirts of the town.

Small but cosy.

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Now, over to you!

Have you been to Biarritz? Did you go surfing?  Let us know in the comments below!

Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Biarritz and have travel-related questions!

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

39 thoughts on “Your ultimate guide to planning the best Biarritz holiday in France

    1. Thank you kindly! Although Biarritz is synonymous with elegance and upper-class style you’ll find plenty of surfers and vanlifers there, too. We are doing very well, Ireland is slowly reopening up after being shut at Christmas time. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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    1. I’m glad to hear you’ve been to Biarritz, Sheree. It’s hard to beat its pristine sandy beaches, beautiful coastal villas, and stylish restaurants that offer a sophisticated ambience. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love your idea of travel for relaxing and enjoying each day without an extensive agenda! I haven’t been there yet but I would like to see it in the future… 🙂

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    1. Hi, Meg, how are you today? 🙂 So many people have this idea of travel as something to be done either in short bursts (weekends, spring break) or as a much-saved-for, one year around the world trip, where they pack as many places into a year as they can (often spending 1-2 days in each location). While this is something that many people aspire to do, there’s another way to learn about and experience the world and it’s called slow travel. A way of travel that emphasizes connection to local people, cultures, food and traditions. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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  2. I think as we get older, the relaxation comes easier. As a young couple, we always felt guilty wasting a single moment if there was something to see or do. Now, we take more time to enjoy the visit and it is even better if you are travelling with another couple. Biarritz looks like a great place to explore with lots going on. Thanks for taking us along Aiva. Allan

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    1. Hi, Allan 🙂 As the famous Taoist philosopher, Laozi once said, “A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” All too often, people who travel seem to have a list of things they want to accomplish. It doesn’t matter how they go about it, as long as they can check everything off that list.

      Many of these travellers don’t seem to care if their experiences can offer them anything other than the ability to brag about the places they went.

      For the past ten years or so, I prefer to take it slow. Firstly it was because I was getting tired of being tired after a vacation. Second, once you start travelling as a family, you have to take each day as it comes. Slow travel is the idea that the only way to directly experience your surroundings is by slowing down, rejecting the tourism industry’s checklist approach, and keeping yourself open to the myriad of new experiences that exist out there in the world. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. 🙂 Aiva

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      1. You are wise beyond your years. We have a neighbour who thinks a 4 day drive through Europe is “doing” Europe. When we ask him what he did or saw, it was all through the car window. Not my idea of a vacation. 😀Allan

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      2. Thanks, Allan. It took me twenty years to realise that there is more to traveling then ticking off cities and countries. We once went on a six day trip around Europe where we visited four countries, seven cities, climbed two mountains and came home utterly exhausted and unhappy. You live and learn 🙂

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    1. Thank you kindly. You would love to explore Biarritz where wide seafront promenades and well-placed benches allow visitors to soak up the stunning natural landscape. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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  3. It looks beautiful. Like you, I always used to want to be ‘go, go, go’ on holiday – it drove me mad that my husband would even consider a beach holiday. But as I get older, I want to relax as much as explore, and enjoy feeling well, rather than always tired. Biarritz looks lovely, I’ve never been so will add it to the always growing list 🙂

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    1. In a world of overtourism and lists of Instagrammable destinations, it might sound a bit crazy to slow down or stay in one place because there’s always the pressure to make your trip status worthy. Slow travel is a mindset, a lifestyle and by far the best way to travel and see the world. Staying in Biarritz for a whole week without the need to see and do as much as possible was a wonderful experience. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

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  4. This sounds like such a fun trip!! I had no idea Biarritz was such a surfing destination. I flew into Biarritz from Paris when I started the Camino de Santiago and took a train ride from there to St. Jean Pied de Port. My brother and I didn’t really have any time to explore before our train ride, but I wish we had! Sounds and looks like such a beautiful town. It was overcast the day we were there, so these blue sky, sunny pics are very different than how I remember my time there, haha! But I so agree that the Basque food was always delicious.

    Miles of smiles,
    Grace

    gracefulrags.com

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    1. Wow, how exciting, Grace! Did you walk the Camino de Santiago in France? The Camino Frances or French Way is the most famous of all the Camino de Santiago routes, featuring in many documentaries, books, and movies such as ‘The Way‘ and ‘I’ll Push You‘. Despite the short driving distance, we never managed to make it to St. Jean Pied de Port which is one of the most significant towns on the Camino de Santiago. Maybe once the pandemic crisis comes to an end, we can return once again to Biarritz. Fingers crossed. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. I hope all is well. Aiva 🙂 xxx

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      1. Yes, I walked the Camino Frances! I started in St. Jean Pied de Port and hiked 33 days straight until I got to Santiago. 🙂 Such an incredible experience! And I really loved St. Jean Pied de Port – such a cute town with so much to explore.

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  5. “…a family vacation that wasn’t gonna challenge me or give me perspective on my place in the world, and I was OK with that.” I love this sentence, Aiva! We all need vacations like this once in a while, and I too need to be reminded that it’s OK just to hang-out, sit on a beach, not have an agenda. Biarritz looks like a great spot to unwind with little pressure. I really like the look of your Airbnb.

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    1. Thank you, Caroline. We often tend to over-pack, over-plan, over-drink, have unrealistic expectations and we ruin what should be precious memories in the process. We return home exhausted wondering why we’d been so excited in the first place. By embracing simple living and travelling mindfully we can redefine tourism. Checking off the Top 10 list may provide good photos for social media, but consider the possibility of the empty feeling left behind if we cannot speak more deeply to the place we visited, to its people and to the delightful similarities and mysterious differences between us all. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. 🙂 Aiva xxx

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  6. The outdoor market, the aquarium, the beaches and architecture. It all looks so lovely! I’ll bet you had a grand time there. I agree that not every trip has to be about personal growth or stretching yourself. Sometimes you just need a getaway.

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    1. Thanks so much. The sweet southwest ocean living and the food makes us return to Biarritz again and again. The Basque specialities are to die for, and if I had to choose three words to describe Biarritz, it would be wild, authentic & delicious 🙂

      I’ve been thinking quite a lot about travelling lately. Before the pandemic, there’s been an explosion of travel bloggers. It’s a land filled with tons of budget travellers where it seems much of the goals of travel are to check off the bucket list, snap the Instagram photo, and do so in the cheapest way possible. I’ve believed that we’ve negatively contributed in many ways “tempting” others to create these bucket lists and check em off. For sure I’ve been part of that.
      There will never be a shortage of things to do and that’s why I would love to inspire others to redefine tourism and the way we travelled before the COVID. We need to seek more to engage than to escape and we can do that by travelling with a purpose. Thanks for reading and have a lovely day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

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  7. Despite living in France for four years, not once did I ever visit Biarritz, which boggles my mind! Many of my friends abroad have gone and had nothing but great words to say about it; I guess I never went, just because I never gone that southwest of the country (the most being Toulouse), nor do I surf. But it does look very picturesque, and it would definitely be a worthwhile base to visit other places like Bayonne and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, all the while soak up that Basque vibe!

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    1. This was our fifth trip to France and second to Biarritz and we still didn’t get a chance to see and experience everything – after all, France is the largest land area of any Western European nation. On the first trip to Biarritz, I really wanted to take a little side trip to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, walk its cobbled streets and see the 15th-century gate which is UNESCO World Heritage-listed, but the weather turned for the worse and we had to cancel it. With overseas travel still non-existent, I had to travel to Biarritz through our photos. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

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  8. Biarritz looks charming and full of so much character. I would never have guessed that surfing would be popular here, but those beaches look marvellous. That’s so interesting that doctors are prescribing surfing and paddle boarding as a cure for some illnesses. I find being around the water very soothing and relaxing. All the more reason to do it more often!

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    1. Biarritz used to be the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic coast but with time, the glamour faded. Thanks to windsurfing and other water sports, however, the city has rejuvenated. It now is the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend break, and there is no need to rush: the city is fairly small and you can easily see everything even on a short visit. One thing worth setting aside time for is the morning market in Les Halles. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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  9. Gorgeous – we camped in nearby Bidart – mid 90’s I reckon – coming home from Spain. We spent just a few hours in Biarritz – I remember the lovely beach and we visited the aquarium – Stephen was young … maybe 5 yrs… I think we might have gone to Bayonne the same day so certainly didn’t do justice to either place!!
    We were in San Sebastian a few years back but travelled via Bilbao. I remember looking at the flights via Biarritz. I admit that I didn’t consider Biarritz a destination in itself until now but you’ve definitely prompted another (proper!!) visit.

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    1. I have to admit, there isn’t much to see in terms of tourist attractions, Marie, but Biarritz would be a perfect base to explore the Baque coast and Pyrenees mountains. One of the amazing things we are yet to experience, located not too far from Biarritz, is the La Rhune trail ride that takes visitors to the top of the sacred mountain which stands at 905 metres, providing one of the best panoramas imaginable. The railway is almost a century old, and the views over the nearby mountains and the valleys, across the Basque Country of France and Spain, are staggering. But, in order to enjoy the views, you need a sunny day with blue skies, otherwise, you are just standing in a fluffy cloud! Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. It’s cold and windy yet again, brrr… Aiva 🙂 xxxx

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    1. Thank you kindly. A visit to the Basque coast is sure to leave its impression, and you will fall under the spell of this amazing corner of the southwest. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

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  10. Biarritz looks fantastic!! Sometimes no planning (except the accommodation and sometimes a car) is the best planning😊 We definitely need to slow down sometimes, at least this is what we’ve learned in the past year or so. But we also like to sightsee as much as possible when we visit new places, it is hard sometimes to choose between the things to do, as also want to relax. Anyway, we love traveling on our own, as we often adjust the route or the program of the day, based on the morning feelings😊
    Thank you for the amazing photo of the beach, I miss a salty breeze in my face soo much!!!
    Have an lovely day, xx
    Christie

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    1. Hi, Christie, I am so glad to hear from you again, it’s been a while. I hope all is well with you and your family 🙂

      Definitively a hot touristic spot during the summer, Biarritz is also worth visiting during the off-season. You will enjoy the quieter atmosphere and it will be easier (and probably cheaper) to stay in the city centre and to visit the city’s historical sites.

      Travel has become a ubiquitous part of life for so many people, particularly now that technology has made it seem much more accessible, but seeing travel as a way to keep up with trends and become more popular online can actually stop you from experiencing the true benefits of getting out of your own bubble. I am still learning to slow down and enjoy the journey and the pandemic has made me question what I want out of my future travels. Instead of a fast and furious tour seeing ‘everything there is to see’, changing locations every 2-3 days, I would want to feel like a local, spending leisurely days strolling off the beaten path.

      Thanks for reading and have a lovely day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

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    1. The south of France offers endless options for poster-like road trips that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Surrounded by coastal surf towns, historic natural sights, and charming Basque cities – and with the Pyrenees just a short drive away – Biarritz is the perfect starting point for a four-wheel adventure. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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  11. Do you know my Swedish friend, Viveka? She was a chef on board the ferries and had a bit of a love affair with Biarritz. I always wished I’d gone there 🙂 🙂

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  12. Here in the US, it seems like all we ever hear about France is Paris and the Eiffel Tower… and to be honest, neither of those things excite me all that much. But through blogs like this I’m learning about so many different parts of France and it’s really made me reconsider my initial judgements. This looks like a lovely place to visit and sounds like you guys had a great time!

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