Biarritz is a town which lies on the Bay of Biscay, on south-west coast of France. It is in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département, in the Aquitaine région. It is adjacent to Bayonne and Anglet and 11 miles (18 kilometres) from the border with Spain.
Biarritz's casino (opened August 10, 1901) and beaches make the town a notable tourist centre for Europeans. Surfing at Biarritz is of a world-class standard, and the town has a strong surfing culture. Biarritz has had a long made its fortune from the sea: originally a whaling village, in the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic properties, inspiring patients to make a pilgrimage to the beach for cure for their ailments. As well as the not-insignificant number of high ranking surfers who have made their home in Biarritz, Karl Lagerfeld is one of the town's better known residents.
Biarritz's fame arose in 1854 when Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III) built a Palace on the beach (now the Hotel du Palais). The British royal family regularly took vacations in Biarritz: European royalty such as Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and Alfonso XIII of Spain were frequent visitors.
Biarritz is now home to:
- the Asiatica Museum, which houses a significant collection of Asian art primarily from India, Nepal, Tibet, and China.
- The Museum of the Sea, which boasts 24 aquariums containing sharks and sealss
- The annual Biarritz Surf Festival on the beach at the Côte des Basques (the premier surf event in Europe)
- St-Martin's Church, constructed in the 12th century, and restored in the middle of the 16th century.
- The Russian Orthodox Church in Biarritz, constructed in the 19th century for visiting Russian aristocrats, with its famous blue dome.
The town lies in Basque territory, and Basque flags and symbols are prevalent throughout Biarritz.