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Best Beaches of the French Basque Country

A guide to surfing in Guéthary

Unmissable Basque Coast Beaches from Anglet to Hendaye

If you love your surf to be world class, mountains to be wild and rolling, beaches endless and local villages charming, then look no further than the French Basque Country.

Energetic surf crashes in from the Bay of Biscay and the craggy hills of the Pyrenees await intrepid explorers brave enough to take on their trails. Stylish seaside resorts rub shoulders with pretty local towns giving a nice mix of old-world allure and modern excitement.

Watch this: Terres & Côtes Basques – A chacun sa plage… Au Pays Basque

Highlights of the Basque Country include; hiking up mountains like La Rhune and the Pyrenees, surfing, kitesurfing and stand up paddle boarding, enjoying fresh seafood at the beach cafés, and relaxing on the many stretches of secluded beach.

Beaches of Anglet

Chambre d'Amour beach in Anglet
Sunset at Anglet’s famous Chambre d’Amour beach | © Flickr – Gadjo_Niglo

La Barre

Noted as one of the most peaceful beaches along the coast, people come here to relax and enjoy the surroundings. To the back of the beach a wide promenade can be found to stroll along and take in the views. Situated next to the mouth of the Adour River, ships can be viewed coming into port. Local attractions to enjoy include; a large skate-park, an ice-rink, the Izadia ecological park and many restaurants.

Chambre d’Amour

This beach’s name (bedroom of love) is in memory of a tragic love story. A young couple used to have to meet in secret at a cave in the cliffs along the beach. One day the ocean was stronger than usual, and a wave took them forever. Today, Chambre d’Amour beach evokes a feeling of freedom, partly because of its wild, preserved environment and partly because it’s become a well-known spot favoured by nudists! Don’t worry though, it’s a huge beach and the main stretch is strictly swimsuit covered. There are remnants from the Second World War on the beach and great views can be taken in from the bridge. Activities include surfing, golf and tasting local seafood at the coastal cafes.

Le VVF

The Southernmost and sandy beach in Anglet, the VVF Beach is situated near to the cliff of Cap Saint Martin and Biarritz. A lighthouse topped clifftop protrudes out into the ocean where you can appreciate spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Surfers, bodyboarders and sun loungers alike flock here to enjoy the waves and huge stretch of sand. Enjoy snacks on the beachside, walk along the promenade and take in the beautiful views. L’Escale is a popular snack joint with surfers and hungry beach goers alike – well worth a visit.

Beaches of Biarritz

Surfers enjoy the Côte des Basques beach in Biarritz
Surfing at the Côte des Basques in Biarritz | © Flickr – Jean Claude Mouton

La Grande Plage

One of the largest and busiest beaches in Biarritz, La Grande Plage (Great Beach) is the spot to be seen with your surfboard and new Oakley sunglasses. Golden sands back onto a bustling promenade filled with hotels and entertainment. Rugged cliffs loom up in-between for fantastic viewing spots and cafes to sit and watch the world go by. Great swell attracts surfers from all over the world although due to the beaches popularity at busy periods, restrictions do get put on numbers allowed in the water.

Le Port Vieux

If surfing’s not your thing, get away from it all at Le Port Vieux beach. Nestled into a small cove, this beach enjoys gentle waves and a not so crowded beach area. Rocky outcrops jut out into the water and small cafes and restaurants can be found around the old port. If you want some watersport action diving clubs can be found in the area for all levels.

La Côte Des Basques

La Côte des Basques has wide open beach stretching as far as the eye can see. Wild unkempt cliffs give it a rugged charm, making it the perfect place to unwind from regular life. Surfing and bodyboarding are popular here but getting in the water becomes tricky at high tide as the sea washes up against the rocks. Hang out with laid back surfer dudes for ‘beer and grills’ at Le Surfing. If you like something a little more contemporary, head next door to Cote 57 for cocktails. Being at Côte des Basques beach in July could mean you will catch the Biarritz Annual Surf Festival. Thousands of surf lovers flock to watch the longboarding competition and join in the week-long party.

Beaches of Bidart

Bidart - Plage du Centre
Plage du Centre in Bidart | © Flickr – Laurent Guerin

Ilbaritz

Located in Bidart, just south of Biarritz, Ilbaritz beach offers a good 300 m stretch of sand backing onto open greenland and rugged cliffs. A scattering of restaurants can be found and a popular golf course to practice your swing. A surf school and watersports centre is situated nearby to hone your skills before taking on big Atlantic breakers. Nature lovers should pitch their tent in the picturesque grounds of Ilbarritz Camping Village.

Erretegia

Erretegia is a great place to escape the busier areas of the Basque Coast. The stretch of beach and surrounding cliffs hardly have any buildings built along the top. The waters are mostly mellow so great for surf school students although watch out for rocks. A 25km trail can be walked along the coast to Hendaye for those who want to stretch their legs.

Le Centre

The Central beach in Bidart can get crowded with surf club members on certain days but offers gentle enough surf for all levels. Take a hike along the cliff heads of this beach for spectacular views across the bay. After a hard day sunbathing take a break at La Tantina de la Playa which offers a fresh sea to plate menu. With stunning views over the beach you can enjoy the sun setting and watch the last few surfers ride the waves.

Beaches Of Guethary

View of Guéthary beach in the French Basque Country
Plage du Centre in Bidart | © Flickr OT Guéthary

Parlementia

Parlementia has it all with legendary waves, impressive cliffs and a laid back village vibe. A popular surfing spot, thrill-seekers can ride waves up to 5-6 metres here. The beach is peppered with rocks and has a decent promenade leading up onto grassy cliffs. Enjoy a beachfront meal at Guethappy which is perfectly situated to enjoy the stunning coastline. Head to Heteroclito bar for a hip surfer vibe and a chance to sift through the onsite junk shop.

Harotzen Costa

The beach here is made up of sand, pebbles and rocks. Swimming is only for the brave due to the swell getting particularly violent at certain times. Surfing is of course very popular and watching the experts ride the waves can leave you with your heart in your mouth. Head to Le Bar Basque for a fantastic menu of fresh seafood and Tapas in a friendly, laid back atmosphere.

Cenitz

This beautiful beach is a mixture of coarse sand and rocks and as Guéthary’s best beach for learning to surf, it draws the surfer crowd en mass. Atlantic rollers break just off the beach and tide pools form in the rocks making great natural swimming pools. Hike along the wild coastal path and enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and the Pyrenees foothills. Head into the centre of Guéthary to enjoy lively surfer hangouts and maybe a game of Basque pelota or two.

Beaches Of Saint-Jean-De-Luz

A summer’s day at Erromardie beach in Saint Jean de Luz
A summer’s day at Erromardie beach in Saint Jean de Luz | © OT Côte Basque

Lafitenia

Popular with experienced surfers and camping enthusiasts, Lafitenia beach is the best place to observe surfing talent but not recommended for swimming. After a little sightseeing along the coast, head onto the main pedestrian street in Saint-Jean-De-Luz where you can find hoards of interesting shops and cafes.

Erromardie

This beach is within walking distance of plenty of campsites and great walking trails along the coast. The sand is mixed in with small pebbles and the cliffs behind sway with natural green foliage. Erromardie beach is wild and beautiful and quite quiet out of season. In summer it’s popular with both families and experienced surfers who can enjoy long rides on the Atlantic breakers.

La Grande Plage Sud

This beach lies in the heart of San-Juan-De-Luz protected by three great sea walls. The centre of town backs onto the beach for easy access to restaurants and bars. You will find many beach clubs renting out sun loungers and watersports equipment such as kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Fishing and diving tours are also very popular here. It’s not hard to stay active in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, but the beach is long and the sand fine and soft, so it’s also perfect for a laze in the sun. For a sweet treat, keep an eye out for a Glaces Lopez ice cream van which serves up delicious homemade ice-cream.

Beaches Of Hendaye

Looking south over Hendaye beach from Pointe Sainte-Anne in the French Basque Country
Looking south over Hendaye beach from Pointe Sainte-Anne | © ActiveAzur.com

Baie d’Hendaye

Known as one of the largest and most beautiful beaches in the Basque country, Hendaye stretches right to the border of Spain. White timber houses dot the shoreline amidst rocks and stretches of sand. Sailing is popular here and it’s probably the best place in the Basque Country to learn to surf. This area is the perfect base to plan hikes up the nearby Rhune mountain or even drive a few hours to the Pyrenees National park. After all that fresh sea air you will need a satisfying snack. Try out the Creperie Iguzkian for freshly made sweet or savoury treats in friendly surroundings.

To sum up, the Basque Country is a hotspot for adventure seekers and beautiful beach appreciators. Cruise along the whole coast or find your favourite spot and relax, it’s up to you. One thing is sure is that wherever you lay down your surfboard or sun-towel in this stunning area, you will be met with smiles, great food, relaxed hangouts, wild coastline and other friendly visitors to swap your travel stories with.

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