Travel

Like a local: a guide to exploring Biarritz

Beloved by surfers and fashionistas alike, the French resort is also a gastronomic gold mine, full of seafood, chocolate and Basque delicaciesThursday, 23 May 2019

By Carolyn Boyd
Sunset at la Grande Plage, Biarritz

Shop ’til you pop
Every shopping escapade should start at the Market Hall, where you’ll find mouth-watering displays of charcuterie, cheese, truffles and foie gras. Join the locals for wine and eat pinxtos (Basque tapas) at the stands. 

For something more refined, call into the family-run Maison Arostéguy, an enticing épicerie fine (gourmet food store), where beautifully arranged shelves are piled high with everything from Espelette pepper, a mild local variety of chilli, to jars of rich fish soup. 

Fan of fromage? Wander across the street to 1001 Fromages for the cream of local, Pyrenean and French cheeses. It’s not all dairy, however — there’s a tempting array of wines, oils and vinegars on offer too. 

Charcuterie’s another local obsession, and one of the best places to grab some premium cuts of pork is Pierre Oteiza. Oteiza is responsible for reintroducing outdoor-reared black Basque pigs to the area. It’s the ideal place to fuel up for a picnic, doing a fine line in sausages and pates. 

Sweet-toothed visitors should indulge in the town’s many chocolateries, which maintain the region’s proud tradition of chocolate-making. Try Pariès, which also makes delicious, almondy gâteaux basques, or one of the many sweet treats (including the delicious macarons basques) from Maison Adam

Still hungry? 
For sensational seafood, head down to the Port des Pêcheurs, where blue-roofed fishing huts have been converted into restaurants. Crampotte 30 — a tiny seasonal restaurant serving delicious plates of pintxos and local wines — is a highlight. T: 00 33 5 40 07 06 52.

For a real taste of classic Basque cuisine, try La Tantina de Burgos. Punters squeeze into this lively restaurant near the beach for dishes such as roasted duck breast with peaches, or grilled squid and chorizo, all infused with delicate Espelette pepper.

Book ahead for a table at Le Pim'pi Bistrot, where chef Manu Michel uses the local produce to exquisite effect. Try and grab a table outside if the sun is out; the streets surrounding the market are great for soaking up the atmosphere. 

Located right beside the market hall, the Café du Commerce is perfect for watching the world go by — all the while savouring one of the generous sharing platters. T: 00 33 5 59 41 87 24.

The town’s well known for its surf scene and sea water spas, and a great way to combine the two is brunch at the Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar: it’s a heavenly spot with superb views out to sea. 

However, the best views are from the dining room of the splendid Hôtel du Palais, the one-time summer pad of Napoleon III. Tuck in to classic French fare with views of the golden Grande Plage.

Sarah Dahan's top five afternoon pit-stops
Sarah Dahan is the owner of the Hôtel de l’Océan

Le Royalty
This good-time bar has a cool, laid-back atmosphere and serves fantastic chipirons (sauteed squid) one of the region’s favourite dishes. The best place to sit is in the cosy room upstairs, with one of the Moscow mules in hand. 

Hôtel de l’Océan 
One of my favourite spots to sip a glass of Champagne is on one of the Chesterfield sofas on the terrace of our Hôtel de l’Océan. It’s a great spot to rest your legs after a busy day and to hear the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below.

Le Passage
Sit outside on the terrace, order a glass of Burgundy and some truffle-infused gouda cheese, and get chatting to the locals on one of the shared tables. I usually hang out here with friends as everyone celebrates the end of their working day. It’s everything a lively downtown bar should be.
T: 00 33 5 59 22 12 54.

Milwaukee Café
This is one of Biarritz’s most on-trend hang-outs, thanks to the great food. If you’re on a detox, go for one of the freshly extracted juices.
I often go for brunch on a Sunday and order the pancakes or rye
toast and avocado.

Miremont
This is a real Biarritz institution. It’s full of historic decor and has a sea view that’s all the more incredible when the sea is at its wildest. I usually order a gâteau basque with cream and sit upstairs because it’s quieter. Most people think you don’t get the view upstairs, but you do, so make sure you ask. 

Don't miss the Braderie de Biarritz, a biannual market where stalls from 150 shops line the streets, selling their wares.

Follow @carolynboyd

Published in the June 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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