Land and history
The Irouléguy, Basque strength to drink to your friends’ health
A small 220 hectare vineyard that produces a great wine, the Irouléguy. The terraced vineyards hold on to the flanks of the valleys of Saint Etienne de Baigorry and Saint Jean Pied de Port. An axis of about 10 kilometres that covers around 15 villages and one AOC, the Irouléguy. The vineyards planted on the heights on the sun-drenched slopes benefit from warmth and ocean air. Their roots feed off deep red clay, limestone and sandstone soil. The tannât grape variety gives the red and rosé Irouléguy its strength. The cabernet franc (achéria) gives it finesse and bouquet. Red wines to put down, powerful with aromas of black fruits, but also elegant and leaning towards red fruit. The rosés remain fruity with touches of citrus fruit. The dry white Irouléguy, a blend of petit and gros manseng that can be associated to courbu grapes, can be distinguished for its floral and exotic notes. Wines for pleasure!
While Bayonne, who citadel was one of Vauban’s masterpieces, was lauded by the kings of France Charles VII and Charles IX, and that Biarritz welcomed the pomp of the wedding of Louis XIV to Anne of Austria, Biarritz had nothing.
A small port from where sailors used to leave from for far away and dangerous whale hunts. It wasn’t until the XIXth century that Victor Hugo came to Biarritz and that Empress Eugenie of Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, fell for the place. The invigorating ocean and the wild coast seduced the Empress who started a fashion for therapy through sea baths. She turns Biarritz into a fashionable summer resort. Crowned heads and all the European elite as well as Russian princes will come to enjoy themselves in the company of the Imperial court on holiday. Later on, it is the Prince of Wales who will bring lords and beautiful British women along with him. They will all greatly enjoy the pleasures of the seaside and the social circles in Biarritz. It is for them that the very first golf course was built, the Golf du Phare. Sarah Bernhardt gives a show to launch the new Casino. Biarritz has arrived.
A palace, a Russian church, Art Deco villas, spas, golf courses as well as great spots for surfing.. Biarritz is the chic spot on the Basque coast.
The Hôtel du Palais. A mythical hotel, a magnificent present from Napoleon III to his wife in 1856. Opposite the ocean, the villa Eugenie, an elegant pink brick palace adorned in cream, was transformed into a luxury hotel in 1905, part of the Leading Hotels of the World. www.hotel-du-palais.com
The Imperial Chapel. Upon Empress Eugenie’s request, the writer Prosper Mérimée handed the construction of the chapel to a student of Viollet-le-duc. Classified historical monument, this hispano-moorish, Andalucían inspired chapel is ornate with walls covered in azujelos. In the apse, a very rare painting of a black virgin representing Our Lady of Guadalupe. Tel.: +33 5 59 22 37 10.
The Russian church.Opposite the Palace Hotel, the Saint Alexander Nevsky Church was built in 1892 to mark the year of the Franco-Russian alliance. Built in the style of the byzantine churches, it is topped with two superb gold rimed cupolas. The Church is part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The quarter of Villas. All along the avenue de l’Impératrice and lining the beach of the Hotel Miramar, one can admire the architecture of the beautiful private villas built in the pure Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Neo Basque style. An exceptional heritage. Information available at the Tourism office.
The Bar du Marché. Opposite the market hall, one hurries to the counter to enjoy tapas with a glass of Irouléguy. When it is sunny, the terrace is packed with people enjoying a cup of coffee or a plate of oysters. In the main room, people huddle together to enjoy cod a la plancha or stuffed peppers. A nice atmosphere and good dishes. 8 rue des Halles. Tel.: +33 5 59 23 48 96
Restaurant Philippe. In a very category, Chez Philippe is trendy and serves fusion food. Philippe Lafargue trained with Ducasse, Chibois, and after a few trips abroad, he set himself up in Biarritz in 2001. The set up of the main room with superb lighting by Philippe Herault is particularly surprising, with its chef’s touch, an artist, who officiates in front of his public. One applauds Philippe’s highly inspired cuisine that brings together south west products and flavours from the East. The wine list, put together by his wife, is a good showcase of the region’s wine. Philippe runs cookery classes one Saturday a month on the theme of fish, spices, foie gras.. Bookings only. 30 avenue Lac Marion. Tel.: +33 5 59 26 74 11
Félix Arosteguy. It’s the «Fauchon» of the Basque coast. You’ll only find exclusive products in his nicely displayed, old-fashioned looking, shop; 300 wines, 150 spices, rare caviar and teas are lined up on the counters. Local flavours and treasures from afar chosen with care especially for the shop. 14 bis avenue Victor Hugo. www.arosteguy.com
Henriet. Maybe the best chocolate maker, Serge Gouzigou delights us with his “best of”, namely the Empress’ kisses and the Biarritz rocks. The selection of ganache infused with caramel, coffee, citrus fruits are very fine and quite delicious. Place Clemenceau. Tel.: +33 5 59 24 24 15
All the ceramics and tiles that adorn the bathrooms and living rooms of the nice 1950s/1960s villas have to be signed by Cazaux. You can still find a few old pieces in antique shops. For three generations, the Cazaux family has devoted itself to the art of ceramic and to creation. Joël, the son, has taken over the business and creates new basins, vases, large compositions with inimitable combinations of colours, the secret of which he holds from his father. Works of art. 10 rue Broquedis. Tel.: +33 5 59 22 36 03. Visit of the workshop by appointment. Tel.: +33 5 59 23 15 01 www.cazauxbiarritz.com
Visite de l’atelier sur RV. Tel.: 05 59 23 15 01
L’Artnoa. Antoine Vignac opened his showroom, a cellar and wine bar on the rue Gambetta, a few steps away from the Market hall. Antoine runs tasting classes, winemaking evenings and workshops on the theme of “the combination of food and wine” so that he can share his passion with fellow wine lovers. And if that wasn’t enough, he brings young artists from the Basque coast in for exhibitions. Another good opportunity to meet up at a private view around a few nice bottles of wine. 56 rue Gambetta. Tel.: +33 5 59 24 78 87