A jewel at the northern end of the Basque Coast that straddles the borders of France and Spain, Biarritz is one of the loveliest seaside resorts in Europe. Located on the Bay of Biscay, the town, once a whaling port, became famous as the retreat of Empress Eugénie, who entertained more the half the crowned heads of Europe during 14 summers spent here. Her palace, built in 1854, can be seen on the Quai de la Grande Plage, where to this day the fashionable set still promenades. British royals, such as Victoria and Edward VII, were also regular visitors.
Doctors of the 18th century helped transform the town by sending their patients to bathe in these waters, said to have therapeutic properties - a practice called thalassotherapy. The Golf du Phare course, established in 1888 continues British golfing traditions dating from that era, and other courses now offer alternative greens. The Biarritz Casino has been another tourist attraction since it opened in 1901. More recently, this has become a major European center for surfers who come looking for powerful waves. Hotel rates run the gamet, from as little as 50 or 60 euros a night to 1,500 euros or more for a suite at the Palace - but either way you're at the beach.
It’s no surprise that gay life also revolves around the beach. Miramar is the stretch of fine sand where you’ll find most of the area’s gay men, but you’ll also want to check out "les plages" at L’Ocean in Anget and Les 100 Marches in Bidart. Gay nightlife is especially hopping in the summer and Biarritz Gay Pride is normally held each June.
Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne Airport has flights from all around France and England. Shuttle buses and taxis can get you downtown.
There are also plenty of train connections to Biarritz train station, 2 miles (3 km) from downtown. Catch the number 2 bus to the beach for one euro. TGV trains between Paris and Biarritz take about five hours, with several departures each day. See the SNCF website for details.
The central areas of town are very pedestrian-friendly, but you’ll need a car if you want to see the rest of this fascinating Basque region. If you don't drive, the bus company Chronoplus serves Biarritz and the neighbouring towns of Anglet and Bayonne. Each trip is just one euro but two euros will buy an all-day pass.
Currency and Money
France is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency. There are plenty of ATMs in the downtown area.
Media & Resources
The Gay Provence website has pages and local listings for Biarritz and the Basque Coast. Gay Viking website covers the scene from Normandy to Biarritz, and beyond.
For the local tourism office see Biarritz.fr; and for info on the local Aquarium and Museum of the Sea
Les Bascos is the local Basque LGBT association for the region, with pride and other events, information and resources.
Têtu is the national gay magazine, packed with interesting features and profiles. It’s also one of the slickest gay magazines ever produced.
For gay and gay-friendly businesses in Biarritz and surrounding areas, with map locations and web links, see our gay Biarritz listings section.
Going Out Biarritz
Casino Barrière Biarritz (1 avenue Edouard VII), Grande Plage restaurant/showbar, poker/blackjack, roulette, gaming machines
DejaVu (1 boulevard du Général de Gaulle), Grande Plage dance club, young mix gay-friendly mostly straight crowd 11pm-6am.
Eleven Bar (11 rue du Helder), nightly cocktail bar, 4pm-2am, young gay/lesbian mix, DJs, theme parties - (website down, closed?)
Le Bô Bar (26, rue Gambetta), trendy gay cocktail lounge, open nightly, tapas/pintxos, mixed crowd, mostly men.
Le Caveau (4 rue Gambetta), gay bar/ dance "boite;" chic set, mostly men, drag shows.
Le QG (49 avenue de Verdun), French/Spanish cuisine moderne restaurant/brasserie and wine bar; good food, French/British/Spanish mix.
Sauna Bayonne (S64) (70, boulevard Alsace Lorraine), Bayonne sauna with gay (Sat/Sun/Mon/Wed), and mixed (Tue/Thu/Fri) nights; cabins, videos, naked Saturdays, foam and theme parties.
Sauna Le Beaulieu (27, rue Beaulieu, Anglet), 5-day men's sauna between Biarritz and Bayonne, Jacuzzi, cabins, cage, sling room, naked, foam and bear theme nights. Other two nights (Tue/Thu) men/women mixed.
For a dozen restaurant/ cafe suggestions, and a score of hotels/ guesthouses, see our map and listings pages.