Basque Country – Biarritz And St-Jean-de-Luz

Where do I start?  How about with a beach, since I love them so much?

Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz are on the Atlantic coast of France, in French Basque Country.  Basque Country also extends into Spain.  The Basque people still speak their own Basque language, which looks nothing like French, and they have a very distinctive architecture style.  Traditional Basque houses are white with red or green trim, but you can find some less traditional ones in other colors.

St-Jean-de-Luz

Biarritz was made famous when Empress Eugénie, Napolean III’s wife, built a huge palace, Hôtel du Palais, right on the beach.  The palace has since been turned into a hotel.

The European nobility used to come here to vacation, so the whole waterfront is lined with huge beautiful buildings.

Biarritz is also a popular surfing destination.  We saw lots of surfers out in the water when we were there.

There’s a great lookout spot on top of the cliff by the lighthouse which gives you a great view of the whole bay.

Thanks to our tour guide Cindy (who was completely awesome, by the way!), who pointed us in the right direction, Michael and I visited plateau de l’Atalaye which offers an even more stunning view.  This rocky islet is also home to a statue called Rocher de la Vierge (Rock of the Virgin).

St-Jean-de-Luz is a fishing village that`s close to Biarritz.  It`s a little less flashy than it`s neighbor, but still completely charming!

It’s claim to fame is that Louis XIV married Marie-Thérèse here in 1660 at Eglise St-Jean-Baptiste.  The entrance where they entered the church has been walled over, because only the king should be able to use it.  The houses where each stayed the night before the wedding are across the square from each other.

I loved both Biarrtiz and St-Jean-de-Luz so much!  Before going on the trip, I was most excited for the French Riviera, and I thought Nice would be my favorite place in France.  I don’t even think I had heard of Biarritz before.  While Nice was beautiful and had palm trees, turquoise sea, and warmer temperatures, it was the Atlantic coast of France that stole my heart… and that’s even with the overcast skies.  I can only imagine how stunning it would be on a bright sunny day!  If you ask me, those European nobles had the right idea.  If I ever go back to France, I’d definitely love to spend some more time in this area, and if you’re planning a trip to France, make sure you include Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz in your itinerary!

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