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The “glamour” of the Belle Epoque

Logo Biarritzla plage, scenas de bains // la grande plage y el casino municipal // la Plage y el Hotel du Palais // los guías bañistas de Biarritz // La gran plage, el casino municipal y el casino de Biarritz // baños de mar y moda . Biarritz (s.XIX) cedida por el Musée du Mer // La Gran playa de Biarritz 1858 // La emperatriz Eugenia de Montijo // La plage. Biarritz Artistique Considered by the Empress Eugenia de Montijo as "the queen of beaches and beach of kings", the fishing village of Biarritz received from the nineteenth century the entire European Gotha. History in pictures of tourist and seaside resort of Biarritz, one of the most welcoming cities in France...

Before the Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie de Montijo came to Biarritz, local citizens already enjoying sea bathing on the long sandy beaches. Moreover, the first bathers of Biarritz were not as has often been believed, elegant women of the nineteenth century; long before the whales came to these beautiful beaches and were the means of livelihood for fishermen until the mid seventeenth century when they away from the coast (photo 1).

In 1609, the Board of Lancre says: "this mishmash of girls and young fishermen are on the coast only wearing blouses, hovering in the waves" ... The local people were diving into the sea, even though in 1774 the municipality denied them permission to install cabins for changing clothes. It was not until the mid-eighteenth century that the Baths were recognized as an effective therapy against all evil. Finally they get the changing cabins on the beach (photo 2).

Victor Hugo was one of the first famous conquests of Biarritz, came in 1843. He became entranced by the charm of "the white town of red roofs and green shutters built on grassy knolls." Immediately Victor Hugo fears that "Biarritz becomes a hot spot. "It's day is coming soon notes with clairvoyance (photo 3).

From the eighteenth century and especially in the nineteenth people travel to Biarritz to take baths. the receiving structure is organized, then security with the collaboration of the bathers guides, some of which were true heroes. In 1836 was created the "Humane Society" established for the safety of swimmers from the sea. In 1844 "The Rescue Society for Biarritz Sea Baths", and in 1897 appear Societies of Guides for Bath". Since the birth of swimmers guides, has not been a single summer without any of the guides heroically save some reckless swimmer. As societies have twofold purpose: to prevent bathers from being exposed to danger and rescue them if necessary. Some paid with their lives this commitment (photo 4).

Described by the Empress Eugenia de Montijo as "the queen of beaches and beach of kings", the fishing village of Biarritz received from the nineteenth century, the entire European Gotha. following their steps, royalty discover this town: the kings of Wurtemberg, Belgium, Portugal, Russian princes, Polish and Romanian. Greats of Spain and English Lords give a "touch" to Biarritz, which at that time was receiving 10,000 holidaymakers each season. Today, the Imperial Palace has been transformed into a luxury hotel known as the Hotel du Palais (photo 5).

In Biarritz people bathe as in Dieppe, and Le Havre, and Le Tréport, but with a something of freedom that inspires this beautiful sun and tolerated by the mild climate. (Victor Hugo, 1843) (photo 6).

Endowed by nature with great beaches and great waves, a mild climate all year round, Biarritz has always seduced the lovers of the sea and the outdoors. There are two sports "star" golfing and surfing (photo 7).

Indeed, eleven years later, Eugenia de Montijo installed her residence luxuriously for two months after her marriage to Napoleon III. The imperial couple is greeted with cheers at the Chateau de Gramont, owned by the mayor of Bayonne. Later, Napoleon built in Biarritz a summer residence, Villa Eugenia, visiting the city each year until 1868 to enjoy the sea and the climate (photo 8).

At the end of the century, the Belle Epoque following the Second Empire and the nobility of the Republic which adopts this summer resort. While in the city residences of varied and bold styles emerge. English aristocrats whose ancestors discovered this place at the beginning of the century during the Napoleonic Wars, come to settle following the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. Passing five seasons in the former imperial residence turned into a hotel in 1893: the Hotel du Palais ". The British made the first golf of Biarritz, the Golf du Phare (lighthouse) and the first horse shows. Sissi, the beautiful Elizabeth of Austria takes refuge in Biarritz for comfort (photo 9).


Le Bellevue fachada. Foto Brorchard // surfista en la playa grande //  Le Bellevue. Foto Plantey para Biarritz TourismeTODAY...
Biarritz from its expansion under Napoleon III, through the charms of the Belle Epoque and 60s when it was the first city to be fond  of an amazing sport, surfing has always been a leading city. Today, it maintains its "glamorous" charm as tourist village, a mecca for golfers in Europe, with one of the oldest golf courses in France (1888) and golfing paradise and surfing paradise,  in the area of the Landas, in French Basque Country or Iparralde, in the Aquitaine Region (left photo 1).

Screenwriter Peter Viertel, husband of Deborah Kerr came to Biarritz in 1957 to film "Le Soleil se lève aussi" He brought from USA their surfboards to practice at the Gran Playa a native Hawaiian sport: surfing. He quickly found adherents in France, including Joël de Rosnay. The practice of this sport was so successful that surfers founded in 1964 the Federation of Surf-Riding and shortly after, the Institute of Biarritz City created a department called "Surf Sport Studies." Today, the main beach is one of the best places in Europe to attract many surfers from around the world. In 2007 Biarritz celebrated 50 years of surfing in France ( left photo 2).

Like a wave, the thalassotherapy fashion spread in France gaining more and more followers. The term Thalassotherapy, we owe a doctor from Arcachon, seaside resort near Bordeaux. Baths of warm sea water, algae and mud baths, invigorating showers, steam baths sea, physiotherapy in water: thalassotherapy techniques today are very sophisticated. All are based on the benefits of marine climate and seawater have the power to "clean up" the body, vivify, reduce the pace to bring a rest and load the body with all the rich trace elements found in seaweed, sea mud and seawater. In 1979, the former champion cyclist Louison Bobet decided to install in Biarritz a thalassotherapy institute adapted to contemporary evils: stress and anxiety.

Biarritz consolidates more and more as the "capital" of thalassotherapy, welcoming all year SPA patients attending in  two international centers.

During recent years. Biarritz is equipped to meet the demands of a new client, the business tourism. The city is distinguished for having restored his "historic" buildings preserving its charm. "Le Bellevue" and "Le Casino Municipal" (built late last century), 2 La Gare Du Midi "(in the building of the old station) and Halle Iratí scheduled to open in December June 2009..  Since 1994 congress rooms, meeting and Casino Municipal Theatre are managed by Biarritz Tourisme.

Le Bellevue is considered a privileged location overlooking the ocean 11 modular rooms spread over 3,500 square meters with a audiotium with capacity for 480 people and a room with a circular layout, with an exceptional view. The historic building was renovated in 1999 by Jean Michel Wilmotte, one of the greatest contemporary French architects (left photo 3).

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Thanks to:
Collection of old photographs and present photographic material, courtesy of the Communications of the city of Biarritz. Biarritz City Hall. / Foto: "Costume de dame pour les Bains", courtesy of the Musée de la Mer, Biarritz.

European Tourism Consultant and Thermal Management.


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