What You Need To Know

A stylish beach town on France’s southwestern coast, Biarritz was once the holiday spot for nobility and is now Europe’s surfing capital. It’s experienced a tourist renaissance—summers are busy. Biarritz lacks the Riviera’s glitz, but you’ll see affluent holiday-makers in designer gear and surfers in flip-flops, and hear French, Spanish and Basque. The Grande Plage is the centre of the action. Behind it, visit the restored, Art Deco casino and wander the streets down to the old port to the west.

Biarritz has been a favourite seaside getaway ever since Napoléon III and his Spanish-born wife Eugénie arrived during the mid-19th century. It's been a glamorous spot ever since, lined with elegant villas and heritage-listed residences that glitter with belle époque and art deco details. Unfortunately the 20th century wasn't quite so kind, and the seafront is blessed with its fair share of concrete carbuncles that have done little to enhance its aesthetic appeal. Nevertheless, Biarritz remains one of the southwest's seaside gems

Area: 4.502 mi²
Population: 24 713


  • The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though you will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.


In Biarritz, the summers are comfortable; the winters are long, cold, wet, and windy; and it is partly cloudy year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 41°F to 76°F and is rarely below 31°F or above 86°F.

The warm season lasts for 3.3 months, from June 19 to September 27, with an average daily high temperature above 72°F. The hottest day of the year is August 6, with an average high of 76°F and low of 64°F.

The cool season lasts for 3.8 months, from November 21 to March 15, with an average daily high temperature below 58°F. The coldest day of the year is February 7, with an average low of 41°F and high of 54°F.


Although the official language is French, you can also hear the Basque language, quite unlike any other known language and spoken by around 600,000 people in this south-western corner of France as well as across the border in northern Spain.

Health and security

  • The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance. In its 2000 assessment of world health care systems, the World Health Organization found that France provided the "close to best overall health care" in the world. In 2011, France spent 11.6{e91fceba20f6b89a875339d860c6998ebadb5bf7cd8c9018c75a358c6b95dc60} of GDP on health care, or US$4,086 per capita, a figure much higher than the average spent by countries in Europe but less than in the US. Approximately 77{e91fceba20f6b89a875339d860c6998ebadb5bf7cd8c9018c75a358c6b95dc60} of health expenditures are covered by government funded agencies.

    Most general physicians are in private practice but draw their income from the public insurance funds. These funds, unlike their German counterparts, have never gained self-management responsibility. Instead, the government has taken responsibility for the financial and operational management of health insurance (by setting premium levels related to income and determining the prices of goods and services refunded). The French government generally refunds patients 70{e91fceba20f6b89a875339d860c6998ebadb5bf7cd8c9018c75a358c6b95dc60} of most health care costs, and 100{e91fceba20f6b89a875339d860c6998ebadb5bf7cd8c9018c75a358c6b95dc60} in case of costly or long-term ailments. Supplemental coverage may be bought from private insurers, most of them nonprofit, mutual insurers. Until 2000, coverage was restricted to those who contributed to social security (generally, workers or retirees), excluding some poor segments of the population; the government of Lionel Jospin put into place universal health coverage and extended the coverage to all those legally resident in France. Only about 3.7{e91fceba20f6b89a875339d860c6998ebadb5bf7cd8c9018c75a358c6b95dc60} of hospital treatment costs are reimbursed through private insurance, but a much higher share of the cost of spectacles and prostheses (21.9{e91fceba20f6b89a875339d860c6998ebadb5bf7cd8c9018c75a358c6b95dc60}), drugs (18.6{e91fceba20f6b89a875339d860c6998ebadb5bf7cd8c9018c75a358c6b95dc60}) and dental care (35.9{e91fceba20f6b89a875339d860c6998ebadb5bf7cd8c9018c75a358c6b95dc60}) (figures from the year 2000). There are public hospitals, non-profit independent hospitals (which are linked to the public system), as well as private for-profit hospitals.

  • Biarritz is a safe place to travel. The only major risk is caused by the strong sea currents. As you might expect in a place once favored by royalty.

    As with anywhere in the world it is about taking simple steps to make sure you are not a victim of crime. Don't wear expensive jewellery. Be discreet with smart phones and ipads and certainly don't leave anything of value on display in your hire car. Avoid unlit streets, take care when in crowds, pickpockets operate everywhere in the world.


  • Despite the fact that Biarritz is a rather quiet city, tourists need to observe basic safety precautions. Do not leave your belongings in restaurants and cafes unattended, and do not take a large amount of cash or other valuable items without any particular need.
  • Cash will be definitely needed only for the travellers who want to make purchases in street markets or plan to attend suburban stores. You should not forget to take more paper money in small denominations as it will greatly simplify the process of paying to street vendors.


  • “Le Rocher de la Vierge” is an obligatory stop when visiting Biarritz. From the distant Pyrenees in the south, to the lighthouse in the North, this picturesque monument offers a panoramic view of the coast. To reach it, you will walk on a footbridge built by Gustave Eiffel, replacing the original wooden bridge, initially built by Napoleon III. Come learn more about the many whalers that would come and pray at this very sight before taking to sea.
  • History lovers will be in their element. Biarritz has been able to preserve over centuries some the historical relics from its past. The ever grand and beautiful ‘Hotel du Palais’ built by Napoleon III for his beloved Eugénie and the castle of Ilbarritz which you can see standing tall on the Cliffs just south of Biarritz are just two of Biarritz’s famous and most historical attractions in Biarritz.