Day Trip to Biarritz!

Biarritz is a city of rich culture and history. Their integration of Basque culture into mundane activities creates an atmosphere of comfort and joy.

The tone for this trip was set on the bus ride over, with a karaoke performance from our peers. “See the line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me!” exploding from the tranquil voices of our peers became the song of the day. Navigating Biarritz was a mission and regardless of how fast and far we walked, there was simply too much to discover. It felt as though we would never reach the line no matter how badly we wanted to get there. This especially rang true on our hunt for a bathroom. We got lost, refused, and scolded with the simple question of “Est-que vous avez aux toilettes?” constantly rolling off our tongues. In this adventure we accidentally got a large tour of the city, running from shop to shop and restaurant to restaurant. Although we spent a very limited amount of time in each place, we were able to catch the vibe of them and slowly we picked up on things like the kinds of food people eat, the clothes they wear, and the places they tend to frequent.

Once we were finally able to enjoy the city, the boutiques and shops called to us at every corner, luring us in with their exotic products. We received a very friendly welcome into the city by a man selling berets.

He insisted we try his berets on!

His amiable and humorous demeanor made us all laugh and got us excited to explore more. His lesson on the history of berets not only provided us with great fun facts for the future, but also an appreciation for the French Basque history. It truly is amazing how many stories something as simple as a chic hat can carry. From there on, our day trip to Biarritz became not just a quick excursion to France but instead, a deep dive into living and learning its true culture.

As we went through the city, and wandered through all of the shops, it was easy and shocking to discern the differences between each and every one. This is especially apparent in the food. Every restaurant had it own specialties. Even every crêpe was different from one other. My friends and I decided to have a crêpe at a cute beach side restaurant with a small glass of sangria on the side.

Miramar Beach

Not only was it so interesting to eat an authentic French crêpe, but it was fascinating to compare it to the crêpes I’ve eaten in the United States. In America, the appearance of food is very important. The plates are very pretty and well-organized in order to appeal to the eye. In France however, I found that the crêpes were very plain on the outside, but had immense flavor within. Here they do not need to showcase their food in a spectacular sort of way because their food and traditional recipes speak for themselves. After just the first bite, my palate was completely refreshed. The texture was nothing I’ve ever felt before. This together with sangria, sitting on the beach, watching the waves crash, while not having a care in the world or being pressured for a check truly made me feel immersed within the French Basque culture. I idolized the French culture of working to live and not living to work.

Furthermore, while seated by the sand, I was able to get a full view of what the city truly looks like; and what amazed me is the similar architecture between French Basque in Spanish Basque, despite them being in completely different countries. In both San Sebastián and Biarritz there is a large prominence of baserri style houses with rustic orange roofs.

In addition, the layout of the cities and even the way that the streets are paved are very similar. It’s astonishing how intertwined the culture between these two cities is. It was almost comforting to be within a city that is so similar to San Sebastián as it created a sense of comfort while we toured this new place in an unfamiliar country that speaks a language we do not understand.

I look forward to learning more about the Basque culture in both France and Spain and I hope that with the rest of the time I have in San Sebastián, I will be able to truly grasp the culture and lifestyle of the people in San Sebastien and Biarritz.