It was the beginning of another long day as we bid adieu to San Sebastian. Breakfast was on hold until we crossed the border. There was no check point – just a small sign in French which I even missed as our vans sped through the highway. The landscape remained the same as we crossed through rolling hills with beauteous pastures. So that was it — We were in France! I was a bit disappointed with the lack of ceremony. Then we exited the freeway, snaked our way through narrow streets of contemporary buildings until we were welcomed into a row of French Shophouses covered in vines. Immediately, we were transported into a bustling quintessential French town – croissants on display at the cafes, art galleries exhibiting Monet-like renditions of the Biscay by their display windows, local handicrafts in their romantic packaging etc. If not for the strict traffic regulations, we would have jumped out of the vans to partake in the scene as well.
Marc suggested that we have breakfast by the La Grand Plage, the town’s largest beach. Still distracted from what we were longing to explore, we were at first puzzled where to eat. It was a long stretch of sand greeted by big waves – perfect for surfer enthusiasts. Only a few restaurants were available. We nonchalantly ordered our sandwiches and croissants, occupied a table al fresco and waited. My cappuccino became a second cappuccino while Adi enjoyed a third chocolate croissant. Just breathing in the ambiance was so relaxing and light. This scenery was what we waited for. Had we settled for breakfast right by the town, we wouldn’t have enjoyed these views! This was breakfast in Biarritz! Simple but heavenly!
Biarritz was once a whaling settlement. Local doctors would then prescribe days of fresh air by this seaside community to people with respiratory problems. But it was when Empress Eugenie (wife of Napoleon III) built a palace by the beach (now known as the Hotel Du Palais) that Biarritz became a more prominent haven. In the next decades, a casino was built and its beaches became favoured summer get-aways for Europeans and North Americans. Today, Biarritz is a prime destination for surfers from around the world, developing a nightlife and surf-based culture.