Biarritz, France

Living in Biarritz

Iyna Bort Caruso

In the mid 19th century, the French author and poet Victor Hugo wrote he hadn’t been to a “more pleasant and perfect” place than Biarritz.”

He’s in good company.

Biarritz was a fishing and whaling village in Hugo’s time, but its character began to change when the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, decided to build a summer palace along the ocean in 1854. The palace, now the Hotel du Palais, put Biarritz on the map of the elite, making it the en vogue spot for visiting European royalty. Today, Biarritz is known as the “queen of beaches and the beach of kings.”

Biarritz is close to the Pyrenees Mountains, just 22 miles from the Spanish border, on the Atlantic coast in southwestern France. This is Basque Country. Biarritz is in one of the seven provinces--three in France--that make up the Basque region.

Miles of white sand beaches draw crowds here including those who come to experience therapeutic seawater treatments known as thalassotherapy.

The waters attract people in more ways than one. Biarritz was the first French town to be introduced to the sport in the late 1950s and it’s been popular ever since, buoyed by big waves and mild year-round temperatures.

Tennis, horseback riding and golf are other popular activities. There are ten golf courses in the vicinity including one of the oldest in Europe, Golf de Biarritz Le Phare built in 1888.

Preservation is a priority in the city, both of traditions and architecture, which includes fine Belle Epoque examples. On the residential side, buyers can choose among modern oceanfront apartments or elegant flats carved up from 19th century mansions as well as typical Basque-style heritage residences with whitewashed walls and tiled roofs. The area has benefited from consistent demand from Parisians and British.

View a list of available luxury properties in Biarritz and connect with a local agent for a private showing.