My friends Bryan and Stacey bought a place in Biarritz ages ago — 2008? 2009? — and I’ve been promising (threatening?) to visit forever. This year, with a little spare time on hand before my busy season at work, I finally made the trip. And it was one of those trips where you spend the entire visit wondering, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Because Biarritz is really the best of towns. It’s right on the beach and the surf is often up, so there’s a nice laid-back surfing vibe to everything. It’s a small enough town that if you dine out at the same restaurant often enough, everyone knows your name and knows your story and knows where you live or where you are staying or who you know or why you know them. In short, I love Biarritz. I think we should all move there.
I got a great Hotwire deal on the Radisson Blu in Biarritz — read my post for details on how I get great deals on Hotwire — and while the hotel certainly hasn’t been updated in the last seven years — the timeframe recommended for most hotel upgrades — its location — smack bang in the center of town and just a 7 minute walk from my friends’ place — was perfect. It also helped that Stacey knew someone who knew the manager of the hotel, so there may have been some free drinks and snacks involved. We were also pleased with the hotel’s great rooftop pool and bar, where we spent many an hour relaxing and just doing nothing, really, except discussing how it was that we had all gotten so old.
Here’s where we dined while I was in town:
Haragia: Tiny little place just off the main shopping street in Biarritz that serves mainly steak and chips. We perched on high chairs and devoured a number of plates of very good steak. VERY popular so make a booking. I liked it here a lot, although service was both very harried and very slow. We ordered a second bottle of wine and we were nearly done with our food by the time it arrived.
The Beach House: This was about a 15 minute ride (I think) outside Biarritz, but we loved the relaxed vibe and international cuisine. (I love Basque food as much as the next person, but after a few days of it, you start salivating over anything Asian.) We had a table on the outdoor patio, but luckily we were under a canopy because it proceeded to rain like nobody’s business while we were sitting there. While we enjoyed our time here, The Beach House felt like a “beautiful people” kinda place, just fyi.
Bar du Marche: We wandered around Biarritz’s lively central market before settling down here for a big plate of garlicky chiporones. This was a very lively, fun spot and we were lucky to get a table. The restaurant was so crowded that we could barely get to the bar for tapas, which was our original plan.
L’Artnoa Maison des vins à Biarritz: Fantastic, friendly winebar that has recently been refurbed. I stopped in here to pick up a gift for my friends and service was super sweet and helpful. Snacks and a small menu available.
After visiting Biarritz for the first time in like eight years, I have decided that I must make this an annual pilgrimage. It’s a great little town! Put it on your list. (And note that San Sebastian is only about a 45 minute drive away.)