The best of both worlds in Biarritz and the Basque Country
The city of Biarritz lies in the Basque Country in the western Pyrénées, situated between the borders of France and Spain. Located on the Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic coast, the luxurious seaside town has attracted a variety of stars – from the glitterati to the literati, past and present.
Historically, the city made its fortune from the sea. A whaling area from the 12th century onwards, Biarritz later became known for the reported therapeutic properties of its surrounding ocean. After doctors made the claims in the 18th century, people flocked to the area in the hope of curing various ailments and illnesses.
Today, the waters attract a different kind of visitor, as the city has come to be known as a hot spot for surfing. Since the introduction of the sport in the late 1950s, world class surfing has become commonplace in the area. Biarritz even hosts its own surf festival, held annually at the Côte des Basques.
Out of the water, the city was well and truly put on the map in 1854, thanks to Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III. As a nine-year-old girl she fell in love with the area, making the coast of Biarritz her childhood playground.
After falling in love with the landscape at an early age, Eugenie was keen to move back to the area. Shortly after her marriage she and her new husband, along with their entourage, moved into Gramont castle in the Saint-Martin quarter of the city.
Realising their new abode was too small, Napoleon bought a piece of land overlooking the sea and ordered the building of a summer palace that was dubbed La Villa Eugenie, now better known as the Hotel du Palais. For the next fifty years, the grand setting attracted royalty from across Europe, as balls, parties and picnics were held at the
In the 1950s, after recovering from the effects of war and a devastating fire that left areas in need of rebuilding, the Hotel du Palais rose from the ashes to welcome guests including Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Properties befitting such esteemed guests are still available today, including this beautiful sea view apartment. Located on the first floor of the building, it has stunning views over a large wooded park and the beaches of Chiberta. The €895,000 property features three bedrooms and a large living room leading to a spacious terrace.
A magnificent 18th century villa situated in a tranquil country setting is available for €2.65 million. Decorated in a contemporary style, the house boasts a huge wine cellar, a tennis court and a workshop, as well as eight bedrooms
and a caretaker’s apartment.
If grandeur and opulence are what is desired, then this spectacular country mansion, set in a centennial park, would be well worth the €7.95 million investment.
Designed in French style, the house is elegant and refined, with six comfortable bedrooms, a gym, a Jacuzzi and a steam room. Bridle paths through a wooded area lead to the shoreline – a stunning backdrop to such a majestic property.