A Walk In Biarritz France, Part One

November 29, 2011 — 6 Comments
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I will begin my journey toward the Camino de Santiago, not on the Camino itself, but in the Basque seaside city of Biarritz, in the Southwest of France. Biarritz has the closest international airport to St. Jean Pied de Port, the starting point for the French Way or Camino Francés, and Irún and the Camino del Norte. Pilgrims arrive in Biarritz from all over the world. From nearby Bayonne, trains depart a few times a day for St. Jean Pied de Port and Irún. You can check the schedule on this PDF from the SNCF website. Please make sure it’s current before you make plans.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, I arrived in Biarritz on page 20. Even if you don’t have my book, you’ll still be able to follow me here on my entire journey. It was a special journey, and I hope everyone has the opportunity to walk at least part of the Camino de Santiago one day.

On a late April morning in 2010, I flew from London to Biarritz on Ryanair. If you book ahead, the fare should be well under €100 including fees and taxes (one way). If I remember correctly, my fare was about €40 but I booked about a month and a half in advance. The flight from London takes about 2 hours and 50 minutes.

A Ryanair plane on the tarmac at the Biarritz, France Airport

It was a beautiful sunny day in the Southwest of France. Biarritz has a small airport, quaint and laid-back. After getting my passport stamped, and most likely, a bathroom break, I went outside to figure out the buses. At the bus stop, I met pilgrims on their way to St. Jean Pied de Port. One asked me to join him in a taxi, because he wanted to start the Camino right away. I had a hotel room booked in nearby Bayonne, and wanted to see Biarritz, so I declined. I took the bus that went directly to the downtown Biarritz area.

The exterior of the Biarritz, France Airport, Aeroport on a beautiful spring day.

 

According to the Biarritz Wikipedia page, the city became more renowned in 1854 when the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie, built a palace just above the beach area. It was also a popular travel destination for English monarchy, including Queen Victoria. Very importantly, Biarritz is in the Basque region which includes Southwest France and Northwest Spain. For more information about the Basque region, people, and culture, please read the Basque Wikipedia page.

I departed the bus at the edge of the downtown area and proceeded to walk toward St. Eugenie Church. Being in a new city, and not knowing exactly where I was going, I managed to have a nice little tour of the downtown area, although some of the streets I saw were by accident. Nonetheless, I had a very enjoyable walk. It was fairly quiet during the afternoon, but I later found out where most of the people were.

Biarritz, France Downtown, Architecture

Biarritz, France Downtown, Architecture

 

Photo of a plaza in Biarritz, France, Basque region

 

A Basque chocolate shop / bakery was one of the highlights of my day in Biarritz. I had heard about Basque chocolates, but didn’t realize their history and importance to the region. Here is an excellent post on Basque chocolates from Bonjour Paris. I had my break inside this shop, and tried a few different chocolates and two pastries, including a delicious one on the bottom left. I could have eaten chocolate and pastries all afternoon.

Photo of a Basque Chocolate Shop in Biarritz, France

 

The downtown was clean and I never felt threatened. There were numerous shops and cafés, but besides chocolate and pastries, I didn’t buy anything else. After a bit of wandering, I was able to find my way to St. Eugenie Church.

 Photo of St. Eugenie Church in Biarritz, France

 

The tympanum was delicately carved out of stone. Sadly, the church was closed during the mid-afternoon.

photo of the entrance and tympanum, Biarritz, France St. Eugenie Church

 

Near the church, in the middle of St. Eugenie Plaza, was a bandstand where people relaxed. Apartments and hotels dominated the upper floors, with shops and restaurants on the ground level.

Photo of the blue sky, Plaza and bandstand outside of St. Martin's Church in Biarritz, France

 

The bandstand with St. Eugenie Church on the left, and the Bay of Biscay in the background.

Bandstand with the Bay of Biscay in the background, Biarritz France

I hoped you enjoyed this first post from my journey toward St. Jean Pied de Port and the Camino de Santiago. On my next post, A WALK IN BIARRITZ, FRANCE PART TWO, I’ll continue to the seawall where the views of the Bay of Biscay, coastline, and the beach were amazing. Please join me.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, or have ordered it, I really, appreciate your support. It’s also out on Kindle. My Goodreads page has reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.



About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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6 responses to A Walk In Biarritz France, Part One

  1. Thank you for sharing your personal journey Randall. Great travel and preparation tips, excellent well documented images and who can resist having some Basque chocolates along the way. I am reading the book now… into 4th day… and really inspired to walk this journey one day.

    • I appreciate your comments. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book. I hope you enjoy these posts too. I’m spending extra time on them, rather than only posting photos. The Camino is a special journey, and I hope you are able to go one day. Thanks for your support.

  2. elyse walters May 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Beautiful photos!

    Such a cool person you are!

    • Thank you very much. I always appreciate reading comments such as yours. If you ever get a chance, I recommend visiting Biarritz.

  3. Thanks for the tip…I am back in Biarritz having finished the Camino and soaking up some of the atmosphere! A few delicious chocolates may be just what I could use this afternoon!

    • That’s great, I didn’t realize you were still traveling. Did you go to St. Jean de Luz? I loved it there. Safe journeys, Anita.

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