According to some sources, surf entered in Europe through this French town, located in the region of Aquitaine, in south-west France, and sister city with my hometown in Spain, Zaragoza.
Perhaps this is the reason why Biarritz, apart from resting place for many wealthy families who occupy their big houses and mansions in the summer, is a popular meeting place for lovers of this noble sport.
From whaling town to Spa city
Back in the eleventh century, composed of two main settlements – the port and San Martin neighbourhood -, Biarritz served as whale fishing port. It was in 1854, however, when it began to gain notoriety, thanks to the fact that Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, decided to build a palace on the beach, now known as Hôtel du Palais, and grant the status needed to attract the high class society of that time. Since then, the presence of European nobility would be frequent as they sought, among other things, the healing effects of a water that is generous in algae and iodine and, therefore, considered therapeutic for its natural properties.
Mixture of cultures and European mecca of surf
Nowadays, due to the sum of facts mentioned above, a curious mix of cultures live together in ancient Beariz, with a perfect balance between high-class vacationers and surfers who seek, primarily, the recognised quality of its waves.
It is usual to come up with all kinds of people when you visit key points such as the beach of the Côte des Basques, the Fishermen Port, The Rock of the Virgin or the old market “Halles de Biarritz”.
Its six kilometers of beach, combining some of the most valued surf spots in the continent, welcome hundreds of avid practitioners each season, including children learning the first steps, amateurs who want to improve their technique and professionals training for the next tournament.
Not in vain, during the creation of this report, we had the opportunity to witness and photograph the Roxy Pro Biarritz, final event of the ASP Women’s World Championship Tour. After an intense competition, Stephanie Gilmore ended up raising, for the fifth time, the trophy of the world title.
The beach of the Côte des Basques, preferred by those skilled in the art, reunited some of the biggest names in the circuit, with surfers such as the lovely Carissa Moore – with whom we had the pleasure of chatting, along with his younger sister – the Australian Sally Fitzgibbons, Hawaiian Coco Ho or the talented Lee-Ann Curren, born in Biarritz and daughter of three-time ASP world champion, Tom Curren.
Text and Photos © Nano Calvo
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