The music of the waves
Biarritz-Pays Basque boasts its very own 30 km stretch of fine, sandy beaches, internationally popular with surfers who come from far and wide to test their skills on the waves. The annual Biarritz Quiksilver Maïder Arosteguy, which takes place over the Easter weekend in La Grande Plage in Biarritz, is the oldest surfing competition in Europe. You can hear the waves wherever you are on the Basque coast – from adrenaline-pumping swell crashing onto the beaches of Anglet which stretch northwards for over 4km, to Hendaye’s wide sandy bay via the beaches and creeks of Biarritz, Bidart, Guéthary and Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
But there’s a more laid-back association with the sea here, too: the water contains large quantities of seaweed, whose iodine content is known to have beneficial effects on the body and has encouraged the growth of thalassotherapy centres and spas in Biarritz, Anglet, Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Hendaye.
The Basque language
Dating back to Roman times and unrelated to any other known language, Basque (Euskara) is spoken by around 800,000 people all over the world. Here, the proportion of Basque speakers is one in four. Despite the odds, the teaching of Basque continues to advance. Official recognition of the Basque language has boosted it in areas such as education, public administration and road signs across a large part of the Basque Country. Take a minute to have a look at local newspapers, listen to Basque radio or simply stroll in a local market in Hasparren or Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to hear it spoken.
Basque songs and festivals
In Biarritz-Pays Basque, any reason is a good reason to celebrate! A rugby match, ham, cheese and cherry fairs, a carnival, a festival… this undoubtedly explains the Basque Country’s joyous identity. All you need to do is listen to some improvised a-cappella songs during village celebrations or a family meal to understand the intense passion the Basque people have for their culture and language. Song has been a deep-rooted ritual since the dawn of time, reinvented by contemporary artists with just the right dose of modernity. Each village has its own festivals but the most iconic are of course the Fêtes de Bayonne, held each year at the end of July.
Festivals and cultural events
- Sea film festival, Hendaye, March
- Street art festival, Biarritz, May
- Andalusian festival, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, May
- International Surf film festival, Anglet, July
- Bayonne festivals, July
- Biarritz en été, music festival, Biarritz, July
- Baleapop, music festival Saint-Jean-de-Luz, August
- The Time to Love Dance Festival, Biarritz, September
- Latin America Cinema and Culture Festival, Biarritz, September
- International film festival, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, October
Find out more from the Biarritz-Pays Basque Tourist Office