Posted February 1, 2010 by Jamie Moore
In summer, beach bums on a budget and ultra-chic jet-setters alike flood the gorgeous beaches of Biarritz, one of Europe's best surf spots. In this little town in southwestern France, you'll find people eating three-course meals or dropping big bucks at exclusive shops just steps from the sand. But you don't have to spend a fortune to feel fabulous here. Celebrate frugality with a stay at an 18th-century home, a taste of Basque culture at a chocolaterie, and a stroll on the seafront's promenade.
Grand Plage Promenade: Thanks to a major revamp from the city, the seafront now spreads out to a gorgeous and foot-friendly downtown. Terraced gardens and pathways lead from the city's shops and cafes to the Grande Plage, Biarritz's most popular beach. So take in the sea air mingled with the scent of magnolias and hydrangeas while you listen to the rhythm of your flip-flops and forget that you're not staying forever.
Maison Paries: When you work up an appetite from all that sunbathing, head a few blocks from the beach to this 1894 gastronomie/chocolaterie for a decadent delicacy. The mouchous (biscuits) and kanougas (chocolate toffees) tempt even the most dedicated dieter, and the gateaux Basques (Basque cakes) are renowned well beyond the Basque region. Try one with soft almond cream filling for €11 (about $15; see XE.com for current exchange rates).
Hotel Alcyon: This historic 18th-century home-cum-hotel, in the middle of all the action, is an absolute find. From here you can easily walk to the beach, casino, restaurants, bars, and shops. Or retreat in one of the 15 comfortable, modern rooms with LCD televisions and grand arched windows that stretch taller than you. Room rates begin at only €85, or $118.
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