Golf occupies a crucial place in the Biarritz lifestyle and the town is a prime golfing destination, boasting no less than 10 courses in a 50km area as well as Europe’s second oldest course. British visitors wanted to recreate England in a small corner and play their favourite sport on the plateau of the lighthouse – and in 1888 Le Golf du Phare was born. This stunning 18-hole course is perfectly situated on the seafront, and was named third best-kept golf course in France by Golf Magazine in October 2015. Keen golfers should know that it’s part of the Golf Pass, which unites the eight most popular French courses and is a passport to discounted rates. Also don’t miss the stunning Centre International d’Entraînement d’Ilbarritz and its five golf schools, surrounded by 26 hectares of green space and breathtaking panoramic ocean views. Biarritz’s mild climate allows you to play golf all year round.
Concentrated in the Basque areas of France and Spain and also played in South America, Basque pelota is type of court sport played with a ball using one’s hand, a racket or a wooden bat against a wall or fronton (perhaps most similar to squash). The term ‘pelota’ probably comes from the Latin term ‘pilotta’ meaning ‘ball game’ and its roots can be traced back to ancient Greece. There are over 20 variations of the game; since its creation, the International Federation of Basque Pelota has standardised the different variations into four modalities and 14 disciplines, with fixed ball weights, rules and court sizes. It’s a male-dominated sport: only two of the 14 disciplines are played by both men and women. Being the fastest ball game in the world with the ball easily travelling at 200km/h, players must wear protection in the form of helmets and safety glasses. If you fancy trying your hand at the game, there are plenty of opportunities in Biarritz!
Residents and visitors don’t only take to their surfboards in Biarritz: they like to give their brains a workout on bridge or scrabble boards, too. Twice a year, in February and July, Biarritz hosts the Festival des Jeux – both scrabble and bridge instalments have been running since 2001.
Biarritz and the surrounding Basque country is synonymous with horses. Whether you’re a beginner or accomplished in the saddle, enjoy equestrian activities at the Club Hippique in Biarritz, which also hosts events such as the Jumping de Biarritz, featuring show-jumping at its highest level. Every July, for those keen on sporting spectacle, the Fleurs de Biarritz racecourse features some thirteen night-time trotting race meetings, including the top event, the Grand Prix de la Ville de Biarritz.
Le petit train de Biarritz
For a charming, gentle way to see Biarritz, take a tour on Le Petit Train, a replica of an 1850s locomotive. The tour is fully commentated and will take you through all the town’s neighbourhoods, from the lighthouse esplanade and the Les Halles district to the Chapelle Impériale, the Musée de la Mer and the Asiatica museum.