Seeing the Atlantic again! The first photo is our first glimpse since August of 2018, when we stayed in Avalon, NJ, with Jan’s cousin, Joe. It is warm and sunny, with people swimming and surfing, as Biarritz has become a favorite surfing destination. Like many resort cities, it is built in layers. First there is the gorgeous blue Atlantic. After that, Grande Plage, the beach, where the sand is soft and warm and people are both walking and laying on blankets, reading. The next level up from the beach is the Promenade, seen in the second and third photos…a walking area with restaurants, bars, retail stores, ice cream, and snacks. Lastly, the next level up is the street, with traffic, but also with more shops and outdoor cafes, as shown in the fourth photo.
The City of Biarritz was first “discovered” by Napoleon III. He bought some property on the dunes of Biarritz in 1854, as it was close to his wife Eugenie’s beloved home country of Spain (which is just 20 miles to the south). He built her a palace, the Villa Eugenie, which was the first version of what is now the Hotel du Palais, seen in the third photo. The original was badly burned in a 1903 fire, but it was rebuilt as a hotel. A frequent visitor was King Edward VII of the UK. After this, Biarritz became a fashionable resort destination for royalty and aristocrats. It became known as “the Queen of Resorts and the Resort of Kings,” and attracted movie stars, gangsters, and politicians, probably because the city also opened a casino on the beach! Beside the hotel, the other landmark seen in most Biarritz photos is its lighthouse, which is in the first photo. It dates to 1834, and its lenses to 1904, with a range of 26 miles.
In the sixth photo is the Rocher de la Vierge, the Virgin’s Rock. For centuries, that rock had been used for whale watching, but Napoleon III had a walkway built out to it, and he topped it with a statue of the Virgin Mary. The walkway is now metal, and you can walk out to the end, but it was closed today, so we could only take photos from the mainland.
The rest of the photos are of the beach with the rain clouds closing in, but that made it all the more dramatic. There are scenes from around town, some buildings we enjoyed, a statue in the middle of the city, and the “Halles,” which is the city’s daily fish, meat, cheese, and produce market. We bought some fabulous strawberries, different than those in the US. They are tastier, more fragile, and much softer to eat.
The fifth photo from the end is a memorial to those who died in the two world wars, which we find in most European cities. The loss is still felt. Fourth from the end is a colorful piece of zebra artwork that we liked. The photo after that was very funny…as we walked back from the beach, this urinal (urinoirs) was built into the side of a mountain, with a little archway, a waist-high wall, and three urinals inside, but no sink or towels…and not much privacy! And we want you to scroll down and see if you can guess what the photo after the urinal might be…it is a close-up of part of the last photo, and is made of actual grass! So unusual on a small street, and it made our day…a painting made of natural material!