Bonjour friends, family and any other interested readers we might have! Since this is my first official post I thought I should start off by saying welcome to our blog and thank you for stopping by! I also need to send a huge thank you to our friend James who helped develop and bring this blog to life. This wouldn’t have been possible without his help and skills – thanks so much James!
Like Brent mentioned in his previous post, I had planned to have this up before we even moved to France, so our friends and family could track our progress getting settled in our new life in a new country, but we have been busier than anticipated, as moving around the globe isn’t an easy task, so this blog has just been an idea for the past 10 (already!) months. But now that it’s up, moving forward, we will do our best to record our traveling adventures, daily life happenings around Biarritz, and any other journey we experience.
To celebrate living in Biarritz for 10 months, I thought I would start off by listing my 10 favorite things about living in Biarritz – the best way I can think to sum up all the positive things about the last year we’ve spent here. Moving has had it’s ups and downs, happy moments paired with dark, sad, homesick days, but overall Biarritz is such a magical place and I personally feel overall really happy here. Here is my list of 10 reasons why:
10. Shopping At Les Halles
Les Halles de Biarritz is the covered market in the center of town, open only in the mornings from 7am – 1pm (but open everyday, even Sunday!). This is where you can go to stock up on local fresh produce, meats, amazing cheeses and many kinds of local delicacies. It can be really overwhelming, espeically in the summer when it’s crowed with tourists, but has been a great way for me to practice my French and try the most delicious local foods. I make my grocery list (in French) and then go to the market and order from the vendors (in French!), whether it’s two persimmons, ten slices of saucisson, one by one I’m learning the names and quantities of all my favorite foods, en français. It’s definitely one of my favorite things to do around town! (I’m planning on doing a more in-depth post on this market experience later, so stay tuned!)
9. Running Routes Around Town
Those of you that know me know how much I love (hate, but love) to run. When we first moved here and I had to cut my DB bootcamp class cold turkey out of my life (for sure the hardest thing about the move for me – loosing my workout routines and workout buddies and workout body), so I channeled that energy into running. Running is amazing because it can take you so many places, and really far. I explored and explored some more by running all around town. The locals love to walk, so there is the most incredible path that hugs the coast of Biarritz, from the Côte des Basques to the lighthouse on the hill on the opposite end of town, and all the way to Anglet and then Bayonne, if you want to run that far. The path goes through tunnels, winding along the coastline, with a gorgeous ocean view, and if there is ever a moment that it’s not raining, I’m outside trying to get a run in on my favorite running route. There has yet to be a boring run around this gorgeous town!
8. Watching The Waves Splash Against The Rocks
The coastline in Basque Country reminds me a lot of the Central California coastline near Big Sur, with winding rocky cliffs and giant waves splashing up against them. It’s something you just have to experience in person, but something about the ocean and the way it behaves is just different here, and I could watch it forever. The waves get massive (so big that’s it’s been hard for me to surf here, ugh) and they interact with these awesome rock formations that Biarritz is famous for, and it’s mesmerizing. Nature never ceases to amaze, especially here.
7. Surf Culture & California Feel
Biarritz feels more like California than you would expect for any French city, and we are lucky to have ended up in the part of Europe that feels the most like ‘home’. The locals actually call this place the ‘French California’, and even though the sun hardly ever comes out, it’s true that it has a taste of California, and I am very thankful for that. Biarritz is a surf town so it’s filled with surfers running through town with their boards, headed to the beach (ourselves included), surf shops, cars with surfboards strapped to the top, wetsuits hanging from apartment balconies all around town, and locals wearing Quiksilver and Roxy. It’s definitely nice to have the familiarity of beach town surf culture when we sometimes feel so far from home.
6. Learning About The Basque Culture
We often get asked from people back in the states “How’s life in Paris?”. That’s a little bit like asking someone in California what it’s like living in New York. Not the same thing. Biarritz is a Basque town, in Basque Country, and one of the fun things about living here has been learning what exactly that means. The Basque have their own food, their own language, their own traditions, all flavorful and unique. It’s been fun meeting locals, exploring the local villages of Basque Country, and learning about this new culture which is a big part of the way life is lived in this little town, and that we honestly didn’t know much about before we moved here.
5. Fresh Bread : Baguettes & Croissants
Let’s be honest – even though we all want to be skinny and like to act like we don’t eat carbs, there is nothing better than eating fresh warm bread, right out of the oven, and there is plenty of that here in Biarritz. Our nickname is Baguette(nberger), so obviously eating warm, fresh baguettes from the local boulanger is one of our favorite things to do. And the croissants! When we first arrived we ate a croissant almost every morning, quickly realizing this could not be a long-term habit (in combination with the lack of bootcamps, the croissants were taking their toll rather quickly). But after experiencing a warm, fresh baguette or croissant purchased for less than one euro, fresh out of the oven, there really is nothing better. Definitely one of my favorite things about Biarritz and living in France! (And now I try to keep the fresh croissants to a once-a-week-or-less treat, only).
4. Experiencing Seasons & Epic Sunsets
Coming from sunny Southern California, we were used to pretty much only one season a year : almost always summer. Even though the cold, non-stop rain can be quite depressing here, one of the highlights has been experiencing all the different seasons. Biarritz gets really intense thunder storms, which happened almost everyday in the summer, and make for the most epic sunsets. The weather is so dramatic, hot and sunny one minute, with gnarly black clouds and sideways, knife-like raindrops attacking the next. It definitely keeps things interesting.
3. Balcony At Château Grettenberger
If I had to pick my favorite place to hangout in the whole city, it is definitely sitting at our little bistro table on our balcony at Château Grettenberger (our epic apartment), with a glass of wine in hand. Our apartment is minature, but as soon as we saw this amazing, almost 360, balcony, we were sold and had to have this place. From the balcony, that wraps all the way around our half-circle living room, with three french doors that open up to it, we can see a small view of the ocean, the Biarritz Lighthouse, down three differnt streets on each side of our building, into surrounding neighborhoods, and many epic sunsets. During the summer we spent every morning on the balcony drinking coffee, almost every evening enjoying a glass of wine during the sunset. Sitting on our balcony enjoying this epic view is definitely a constant reminder of how lucky we are to get this time to enjoy this city.
2. Proximity To Everywhere Else In Europe
A big reason why we decided to make this move was the opportunity it created to travel Europe. Right before Brent was offered his job here, we were actually seriously talking about saving up, quitting our jobs, and just traveling for a year. Somehow we were blessed to get this opportunity to have work AND get to travel every couple of weekends. Paris (PARIS!!!) is just an hour flight away, and plane tickets to places like Santorini, Greece are only $250 USD. Whaaat???!!!! We’re going for our birthdays, done and done.
1. Local Weekend Antique & Flea Markets
For sure, my number one, absolute most favorite thing here is going to all the local weekend antique and flea markets. My friends in California know I never missed going to the Long Beach Antique market every month, and here the treasures I have been finding have been AMAZING. Not only is everything here French (or ofentimes Spanish, since we are so close to the border), but everything is so cheap! Yes it’s all in Euro vs. the US dollar, but I’m used to LA prices, and since most of these fleas are in smaller towns, the prices are amazing. I often hold up an item, asking how much it costs, expecting the vedor to say fifty euro (and probably willing to pay about forty), and they end up telling me fifty cents!!! Brent is going to kick me out of the house if I come home with too many more trinkets, but I can’t help it, I’m addicted to the French Fleas!! My favorite markets are Les Puces des Quintaou in Anglet, the 4th Saturday of every month, and La Brocante d’Ahetze, the third Sunday of every month. Check out this amazing website where you can search for all sales, antique markets, garage sales and fleas happening in France.
And those are a few of my favorite things about living in Biarritz, France! I feel very lucky to be here!! Bonne journée!