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Biarritz in summer

Biarritz in summer
The city of Biarritz is located on the Bay of Biscay, in the 64 department of France, called the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. It is located along the Basque coast at the Cape of St. Martin, closely adjacent to Anglet and Bayonne, and has been a health resort in France for more than one century – in the “beautiful era” it was a place of rest and treatment for the aristocracy, now – modern high-ranking officials. Thanks to “right” waves of the Atlantic ocean Biarritz is a renowned surfing center.

The history of prosperity and popularity of this area can be associated with the names of two outstanding women – Alienor of Aquitaine and Empress Eugenia. When Alienor married Henry Plantagenet, king of England in the 12th century, the English built the Fortress Farragus next to a fishing village. When this country was appreciated by Empress Eugenia, a popular resort for the aristocracy arose here. The traces of the English fortress have not survived to this day, but there are many sights associated with Eugenia. For example, the most emblematic building on the shore – Villa of Eugenia, originally built as the empress’s rest and reception house, is now called the Hotel du Palais (now under reconstruction), and is used to accommodate the wealthy public. The Church of Saint Eugenia also beautifies the Biarritz coastline and is a local sight.

The main local attraction, in a manner of speaking, is surfing. Particular waves arising due to the specific bottom configuration and the processes of the Atlantic Ocean that are difficult to understand, make it possible to relatively easily master mysteries of this sport. For a good wave, it’s necessary to know the time of high and low tide, and all local surfers have it timetable.
In practice, in order to surf “from scratch”, it takes a week of classes at a surf school. Our group mastered cherished skills just on the date indicated. Although, personally, this type of activity does not suit me, and with great enthusiasm I visited coastal cafes. I also photographed schoolchild surfers.
One of the emblematic sights is the local lighthouse, built in 1834 on Cape Saint-Martin. You can mount it to appreciate the stunning view of the Central Beach, as well as take a photo at the observation deck located at its foot. Hotel Le Regina is nearby, in the restaurant of which you can enjoy tasting dishes prepared by an eminent chef. It’s suitable for gourmets, of course. We were not lucky at all – at that moment there was no eminent chef, we had to suffer with the usual menu 🙂

We prepared for this our visit to Biarritz and booked a sightseeing tour with a private guide through a special resource – Excurzilla. We learned a lot of useful things (in just a couple of hours!), looked at all the most famous places in the city, and in general, had a great time. For example, we became0 familiar with the history of the emergence of the Russian Church, located (oh, miracle!) on Russian street of Biarritz. In general, I have to say that since the 19th century wealthy Russians have chosen this city and the region where the Russian Church is located, now a respectable place, studded with luxurious villas. The villa is still located here in which the great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky once lived. And now, according to stories of the guide, Russian residents occupy more than one villa in this region.
The history of the settlement, in the place of which modern Biarritz grew up, is closely connected with whaling. And to this day, a whale is depicted on the city’s coat of arms. Poor animals nearly disappeared from the face of the earth – I did not even think that until recently streets of European cities were illuminated by whale oil lamps. Horror! We can say that new technologies (gas and electricity) have saved poor animals from complete extermination. Old Port of Biarritz was exactly the place from where whale hunters set off on their shaky little boats to stun an unfortunate whale with an accurate blow and pull it on shore. Now we cannot say that such horrors were happening in this reputable place.

The oldest street in Biarritz – Gambetta has maintained its charm, showing restored old buildings. One of which is the old city market, where it’s possible to still buy fresh fruits, groceries and everything else, and in the evening public life flourishes around. A large number of cafes, restaurants and bars are concentrated around the old market – perhaps not something else, but the French love (and know how) to eat.
There is also an unremarkable clothing store called 64 on this street. Another tourist would not attach it any significance, but for the locals it’s a symbol of national identity to a certain degree, – this is the number of the department of France, in which Biarritz is located. In general, instead of souvenirs, you can buy some clothes with the symbol of this brand.

Gambetta street leads to the former town hall square, where now the reorientated town hall building is not at once recognizable, a bank, shops and other organizations are located here. We can say that it’s the very center of the old city. However, one historical place still remains on it – it’s the Miremont cafe. Even now, there you can taste unusually delicious desserts, custard (a rarity in Europe) tea and a huge number of variations of coffee service. Both with stunning views, local desserts in surroundings of the historic interior of this cafe will help you get your impression of why Biarritz was so loved by hedonists of the past.

In addition to the aforementioned Hotel du Palais (one of the best hotels in Biarritz), a casino building is also on the Central Beach, which also houses a public swimming pool (not without reason the city has a history of a balneotherapeutic health resort), as well as cafes, restaurants and shops. Since it’s quite difficult to swim in these places (Atlantic Ocean, even so!) and often cold, beaches here are more convenient for promenade. In general, the guide told a quite large number of stories about ships that could not cope with peculiarities of the Bay of Biscay, the most difficult in the way of navigation, and sunk in the local waters even in recent history.

By the way, this is why Biarritz does not have a yacht berth and corresponding infrastructure – during the storm season, waves gain enormous sizes. For centuries, local authorities have tried to protect the city bays with the help of breakwaters, but it did not work out to build properly – the ocean breaks all attempts to establish artificial restrictions for it.
For example, a representative story is associated with one of the sights of Biarritz – cliff of the Holy Virgin. In the 19th century, a natural rock at this place was yet broken by order of Napoleon III to arrange a port-refuge, however, it was not possible to install full-fledged breakwaters. All in all, a statue of the Holy Virgin was installed here, making this a tourist place, by building a bridge by the Eiffel atelier to the rock from the shore, starting from the Museum of the Sea.
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American giving recommendations for Uruguay. What would you add?

Below are my general recommendations for someone going in the summer. I have been three times for a total of about a month and a half. Any suggestions (for the next time I visit)?
There's so much to say so I will try and start at a high level and then zoom in.
While staying in Montevideo, I suggest finding an Airbnb (or a higher ranked hotel) in Villa Biarritz/Punta Carretas/Pocitos.
This area is nice because it is walking distance to the Rambla (similar to the Barcelona Rambla) and has a ton of cute, boutique restaurants in the area. It is also close to the Punta Carretas shopping mall which was a prison from the dictatorship days that was converted to a high class shopping mall.
Montevideo is super safe, but downtown, and especially the "Old City" are much more likely to have homeless people and beggars just because of all the tourist traffic.
For super luxury, check out http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-7969-sofitel-montevideo-casino-carrasco-and-spa/index.shtml It is in the nicest neighborhood in Montevideo, but its a bit far from everything else.
As for places to eat, I highly suggest Mercado de Peurto (http://www.mercadodelpuerto.com/). This website is HORRIBLE but it is a pretty authentic Uruguayan experience. Lots of Asados, grilled meat, and its a cool atmosphere. Definitely worth it. Another really nice, small place is El Viejoy http://www.elviejoyquerido.com.uy/. It's small, and everything is for sale. So the plates are all different, the food is good. Also, wine at places is SUPER cheap so bottles all the time in Uruguay. These are the two places that come to mind, but please feel free to ask about any specific food. Fish, pizzas, pizzetas, chivito, beef, griled chicken, pastas are the main food you'll see.
Also, before I forget, there is a built in discount for when you use a Visa or other Debit Card. Its like 11-20% so its pretty substantial. It is meant to encourage tourists to spend money, so it only occurs at "touristy" things like restaurants and cafes. So use a Visa card.
Flea markets are a huge thing in Uruguay because there are many, many artisans. Here is a list of the top markets-- https://theculturetrip.com/south-america/uruguay/articles/the-best-markets-in-uruguay/ -- the first one is huge. You can get anything at the market. Anything. A live chicken? Yes. A dog? Yes. Fresh fruit? Yes. There are miles of this thing.
Other touristy things you can look up yourself because a top 10 list will do a better job than me, but the above suggestions made everything enjoyable for us. Here is a website with that stuff: https://theculturetrip.com/south-america/uruguay/articles/the-top-10-things-to-do-and-see-in-montevideo-uruguay/
The NYT also recently did an article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/travel/montevideo-uruguay-millennial-entrepreneurs-design-fashion-restaurants.html
First of all, rent a car. They aren't super expensive. Get a fun cheap little Chinese car. Really, cause gas is expensive and you don't need much more than that. Start to head west up the coast. There are a ton of small beach towns, but I am going to point out a few that are worth it. Also, beware! Try and drive this during times when tourists won't be. Up toward the coast is the main tourist attraction of most of South America, so you don't want to hit traffic. In approximate order of hitting the towns...
Pirapolis --cool spot with a fantastic view up the large mountain (driveable). Theres a restaurant up there too. It was really cool when we drive through at night, but we haven't spent that much time there.
Las Cumbres isnt a town but its a hotel on the way and its BEAUTIFUL. Have never stayed there but have just gotten tea and its literally stunning (https://www.cumbres.com.uy/ingles/index.html)
Punta Del Este-- I am sure you have heard of this place. Book a hotel early as it is likely going to be very busy when you go. It is the most upscale and you will see the richest families in South America here, and possibly Ricky Martin. I can't recommend a single restaurant because they are all fantastic. Bars START to get hopping at 2am (this is typical of all Uruguay) and this strip of bars will look like something out of a movie by 3 or 4. It's worth it to see. Random note: when you park, you usually give a small tip to people who "watch" you car, before or after. You'll see them. Its a real thing and protected from govt even though its scammy. I can go off about it but not here lol. Otherwise, do the touristy things here!
After Punta there's also a belgian hotel that's gorgeous called L'Auberge. (http://www.laubergehotel.com/) if you're interested in that.
La Barra is the next town, right after Punta. This is a party town, and theres a big, party beach with live DJs called Bikini. Also check out the shops. There's this amazing candle store called Vellas de Ballena that is great for souvenirs to give to people.
Next up is Jose Igancio. Super upscale little old fishing village that now gorgeous. There is a restaurant called Parador La Huella that we have never been to but has been in NYT and is really nice. We usually just pass through here, go to beach for an hour or two (there are surfing lessons here) and get a bite to eat. Wouldn't suggest staying here just because its so expensive and there isn't much nightlife in this area. There is sometimes a pop up restaurant here that has their sister restaurant in Brooklyn that if you go to both they treat you really well (because so few people do).
After Jose you have La Paloma (which is the next biggest city (after Punta and Pirapolis) but I don't suggest it, but then right after that is La Pedrera which is SO cute, and worth a stay. This place is also centrally located so if you stay in Punta for a few nights this might be your second home base. This is like hipsteartist central, with cool restaurants down the strip and a cool beach. Definitely an airbnb place, though--have no concept of what the hotels might be like cause its smaller. Not a party place but so cool and relaxing. Its a nice contrast. One restaurant I really enjoyed was Petisco (https://www.facebook.com/PetiscoRestoPubLaPedrera/). I highly suggest spending a night here. You won't find it on tourist destinations.
Next up...Cabo Polonia. This place is AMAZING. It is only accessible via these all terrain vehicles and its absolutely beautiful. We made a day out of it (I think its like 40 min from La Pedrera, so we stay two nights in La Pedrera and spent one day here). Here is a NYtimes article on it: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/the-coast-of-utopia/ --I highly suggest it for a day, at least. We didn't stay so I don't know nightlife (they don't really have electricity or running water?) so don't know what its like, but there are hotels and is one of the top tourist destinations.
Finally, you have Punta Del Diablo, its one of my favorites. beautiful beach, cool atmosphere, and overall chill AF. We made a day trip out of this place (every year), but I assume you could stay longer. Think surfers, and surf huts, and beautiful beach.
Finally, not a beach town but possibly worth a visit, there is a winery and a town called Garzon. http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/05/13/travel/20120513-SURFACING.html Very hard to find, but worth a good dinner at the restaurant listed. The winery is evidently amazing as well, but I have never been.
It might be worth it to take the ferry to Colonia instead of directly Montevideo. Spend a day here and then take a bus to Uruguay (probably cheaper too). This place is a super small Portuguese town from like the 1600s or something that has been preserved. Cute cafes, artisans, and great views.
For five nights, I would suggest spending:
1-2 nights in Montevideo. See the tourist things in the link above and experience the flea markets. Drive through Pirapolis if you can on the way to Punta from Montevideo, maybe grab lunch there.
1 night (preferably a weekend, but not necessary) in Punta. It's really the most famous destination. Go out and have fun all night long. On the way to La Pedrera stop in La Barra and Jose Ignacio to walk around, grab an ice cream, and sit on the beach for a bit.
2 nights in La Pedrera. You can use this as a destination point-- spend 1 day in Cabo Polonia, 1 day in La Pedrera (or just come back for dinnedrinks at the end of the day). You could even make it to Punta Del Diablo.
1 night in Punta Del Diablo or back to Montevideo (where you will probably have your flight from).
Note that driving up and down the coast takes like 2 hours from Monte to Punta and like 2-3 hour to Punta Del Diablo, which is the furthest point. It's not that far.
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Biarritz : Grande terrasse du casino municipal

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