Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Biarritz is a town and commune which lies on the Bay of Biscay, on south-west coast of France. It is in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département, in the Aquitaine région. It is adjacent to Bayonne and Anglet and 11 miles (18 kilometres) from the border with Spain. Population (1999): 30,055.
Biarritz's casino (opened August 10, 1901) and beaches make the town a notable tourist centre for Europeans. Surfing at Biarritz is of a world-class standard, and the town has a strong surfing culture. As well as the not-insignificant number of high ranking surfers who have made their home in Biarritz, Karl Lagerfeld is one of the town's better known residents.
Biarritz has had a long made its fortune from the sea: originally a whaling village, in the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic properties, inspiring patients to make a pilgrimage to the beach for cure for their ailments.
Biarritz's fame arose in 1854 when Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III) built a Palace on the beach (now the Hotel du Palais). The British royal family regularly took vacations in Biarritz: European royalty such as Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and Alfonso XIII of Spain were frequent visitors.
Biarritz is now home to:
- the Asiatica Museum, which houses a significant collection of Asian art primarily from India, Nepal, Tibet, and China.
- The Museum of the Sea, which boasts 24 aquariums containing sharks and seals
- The annual Biarritz Surf Festival on the beach at the Côte des Basques (the premier surf event in Europe)
- St-Martin's Church, constructed in the 12th century, and restored in the middle of the 16th century.
- The Russian Orthodox Church in Biarritz, constructed in the 19th century for visiting Russian aristocrats, with its famous blue dome.
- The Chapelle Imperiale built for Empress Eugenie, which has an intricately decorated roof interior, and elegant wall tiling.
- A Museum of Chocolate, which explains its history and manufacture.
Spectacular cliffs and lookouts lie to the west of the main beach.
A large and modern backpackers' hostel is near the rail line, about 30 minutes walk from the beach.
Biarritz was the birthplace of:
- Maurice Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey (1877-1963), British civil servant
- Arnaud Massy (1877-1950), golfer
- Jean Borotra (1898-1994), tennis player
- Léopold Eyharts (Colonel, French Air Force) (born 1957), ESA astronaut (Mission Specialist)
- Information on the history of Casino Barrière de Biarritz (the casino at Biarritz)
- Website of Hôtel du Palais, Biarritz (including photographs)
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