Surf’s down in Biarritz

Next up, Biarritz, the quaint French surf city on the Atlantic just 12 miles from Spain’s border. Peter had traveled to Biarritz to surf in 2002 and was excited to go back.

I admittedly knew nothing about Biarritz, but was ready to go to a beach-city to relax on the sand, read, blog and watch Peter surf.  Biarritz is the birthplace for European surfing made famous by an iconic Malibu surfer, Miki Dora. According to Peter, the Cote des Basques region has exposed beach and reef breaks and is known for its consistency so we were pretty much certain there would be rideable surf.

Unfortunately, a couple things were off in Biarritz….

One was that Peter had booked our AirBnb. As we are both new to this website, and unbeknownst to him, we booked a room in a shared house opposed to the entire flat. Which really isn’t a big deal, but is slightly awkward when you believe you’re renting an entire house when in fact your “roommates” are showing you where to stay in their house. “You didn’t know,” was the response of one of the roommates when we inquired about the shared living space. We sort of fumbled and spit out a handful of indecipherable sentences which basically didn’t answer her. We settled into our room.

Nevertheless, the place we stayed was great and much more reasonably priced then local hotels. The two girls staying were wonderful as well, Valerie and Pauline.  They gave us great tips on where to go for exploring, eating and drinking.  The owner, Pauline, provided a great spread for breakfast every morning of croissant, yogurt, fruit, coffee, and orange juice. Have I mentioned just how delicious and buttery croissants in France taste?

Pauline’s friend from Paris, Valerie, was down for the weekend. She works for Veuve Clicquot in marketing so we had a lot of fun talking to her about our love for Veuve Clicquot, going to the Champagne tour in Reims, and serving it at our wedding.  She told us that the United States is their biggest market with Costco being one of their largest buyers for the comapny.  She was very pleased.  I showed her a picture from the wedding,  ”Time to drink Vueve and dance on the table.”  She politely mentioned we must spell it differently in the US.  I took a closer look and noticed I misspelled Veuve in the picture, “Vueve”.  Face palm.  Did anyone notice?







The first evening we were in Biarritz we took a stroll to the beach and enjoyed a drink by the water.  We took some time to discuss the trip thus far.  At this point we had been moving around a ton and were feeling pretty tired.  Some of the French personalties were beginning to wear on us a bit.  There is nothing else we would rather be doing, but this kind of trip isn’t for everyone.  Some days you miss routine, your friends and family, and the ease of speaking in the same language.  Of course none of that compares to how blessed, lucky, and grateful we feel to be doing this trip together – we were just speaking openly about the challenges.

As we were discussing this a massive dark storm cloud started closing into shore from out at sea. As we quickened our walking pace, we noticed the wind swirling aggressively in the air over the water, like a tornado, picking up water in its path.  The wind was so strong that I felt like my feet would come off the ground. We saw a small restaurant to seek shelter and sat down.

The menu is entirely in French so we took out our phones, translate, and made some decisions we were happy with.  One thing I learned on this trip is if your menu is open the waiter is not going to come over.  We close our menus, waiter comes over, and we do some pointing on the menu in attempts to order.  At this point, we’ve been sitting down for over 20 minutes when the waiter informs us they are no longer serving food.  This seems odd as its about 7:30 PM.  Its exactly the type of small frustrations that we were just discussing.  It just gets tiring – maybe we’re missing something.  The waiter mentioned the only thing available was a meat and cheese plate (note: they have a full kitchen).  We went ahead and ordered it.  That is one thing about traveling and food.  Sometimes you eat when or what you can.  I’m not sure how you would do a trip like this if you were glutton adverse or on a carb free diet.  Gosh especially if you were in Italy.  More on that later.

We enjoyed the charcuterie plate and some Bordeaux Wine as the storm outside appeared to have passed.  As we got up to pay, Peter handed his credit-card to the owner. He swiped the card a handful of times to no avail. Patience tested, we dug through our wallets and bags and were able to accumulate enough change to pay the bill. The owner than began apologizing for our experience, explaining they were re-modeling the kitchen. We didn’t complain or say a word but he must have seen the frustration on our faces. He then said we all needed to do a shot to make up for their errors. Without giving us a chance to answer, he was pouring out four shots. One for Peter and I, one for himself, and one for the waiter.  He clicked our glasses and gave a cheers.  We all smiled. The timing was perfect. Just when you are feeling worn out by personalities, situations (AirBnb messes) and weather something like this happens and it changes everything.  It was something small but it meant a lot at the time. I guess it doesn’t take much.

The second thing that was off – the weather. We came for the surf and the forecast for our entire stay was rain. No beach time, no surf. Peter was bummed as we made a special trip to the coast just to surf. We inquired with our roommates on suggestions to do with the stormy weather and they delivered fabulous local ideas for sights, restaurants and viewpoints.

We set out on a day road trip to Guethary and St Jean De Luz.  On our way, feeling too confined in the car, we stopped to take in beautiful view in a short period of dryness and an impromptu yoga session ensued.  Check out Peter’s form (he doesn’t do yoga and was just trying to copy my poses).

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Both Guethary and St Jean de Luz are small Basque communities with very distinct Basque architecture. You don’t feel like you’re in France.  Basque Country spans between the border of France and Spain and has a storied history of identity and culture. In 1959, the Basque started a movement known as the “Basque Conflict” seeking independence from France and Spain. It was considered the longest European war in modern times. In 2011, a peace-hearing was called and the Basque leaders agreed to withdraw arms and violence. From what we’ve read and been told, the push for independence seems much higher in Spain than France.

St Jean du Luz was a very bustling area of Basque Country.  You could tell that it was a place where the French came to vacation. It wasn’t touristic in the traditional sense – it was French-touristic where the emphasis was on eating and drinking outdoors with a very slow, strolling pace. We did as the French do and sipped our glass of wine for an hour and watched life pass by while talking. Its a very nice place that we likely never would have visited in our lifetime if it weren’t for our roommates.

After our day of sightseeing, we were back in Biarritz. We set out to a place called Blue Cargo to enjoy a drink with what Valerie described as a “spectacular view.” This place was great and it only rained once.  We almost had the entire patio to ourselves and the view was wonderful. Again, so grateful for the recommendations from our roommates as the only research we had done prior to Biarritz was which surf spot to visit.

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After Blue Cargo we headed to dinner at a restaurant that was recommended by Pauline, Cote 57.  She called in the reservation for us and we ended up with the best seat in the house.  A window table right on the water – front row seats for a beautiful cloud-filled sunset. She later told us she is very much a regular there so must have had some influence.

We decided to leave Biarritz a day early.  The main reason being that we were there for surf and the next day was going to be equally as rainy.  Our next stop was San Sebastian, Spain, so we felt that city’s pull was stronger than another day in Biarritz.  Plus, we figured if it rained in San Sebastian at least we could sit inside and enjoy pinchos (Basque term for tapas) and Sangria.

We woke up the next morning and drove to the Biarritz airport where we dropped off the rental car that had gotten us from Paris, to Reims, to Dijon to Saint Emilion, to Biarritz.  It almost felt like we were saying good bye to a friend.







We grabbed a cab and off we went to cross the border into Spain.

Love from Biarritz,


PS: Peter and I are constantly working to make my blog better.  We just updated the comment section to a very popular platform called Disqus. It allows you to make comments via Facebook, Google+, Twitter or a Disqus account. You can also make a comment as a guest. Its a pretty engaging and neat tool for commentary – try it out. We LOVE to hear from all of you so thanks as always for following my blog!


  • We put on 918 miles in that Toyota. First time driving a Hybrid and thought it was great! Glad we got a picture of it before we gave it up. Bluetooth and This American Life episodes were great in that car.

  • Becky Lessley

    Mike and I drove that same hybrid last October/November. we put 4000 miles on it. Great fun!!!! And so cheap!!!

  • Jaime Fotheringham

    Wow Becky that is a ton of driving. We can’t wait till you get here. Soon I will be writing about our adventures.

  • Jaime Fotheringham

    Peter you are an excellent driver. xoxo

  • Rosemary Hodges

    Oh my gosh this is all so wonderful. You have been on the go and I imagine you must have a moment now and again when you hit the wall. But what a way to go.Please continue to share all of it with us. Love you both.

  • Jaime Fotheringham

    Yes for sure. We have had a ton of time to relax in Florence which has been great.

  • Love that through a not quite ideal situation you two make the best of it. Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Traveling is an adventure and that’s what makes it so special! Can i request more food pictures? haha! Love you two!

  • Jaime Fotheringham

    Ahh thanks Shastin. None of it was obviously that bad, but we are human and things can wear on you. More food pics. Noted.

  • Becky Lessley

    YES! YES! YES! And sadly, some may be disastous :( Seems to be synonymous with Vacura/Miller. However, I have learned to laugh my way through all of it.

  • Holy crap that looks good!

  • Courtney Goodin

    YOGA always makes things better! Especially when your hubby does it with you!! Cute couple! xoxo,Court

  • haha Court, it was pretty fun to watch Peter attempt some yoga.