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Biarritz, cradle of surfing in Europe

Biarritz, cradle of surfing in Europe

It was in this little California on the Basque coast that surfing was born in Europe, sixty years ago. Since then, this discipline is distilled daily and prints his lifestyle cool and healthy.

In the heart of Biarritz, a man dressed in Neoprene, dripping with seawater, walks barefoot on the pavement, a board under his arm. These curious silhouettes haunt the streets adorned with beautiful houses. Crossing the city to surf, they cross passers well put. It does not shock anyone, any more than to see a combination dry on a balcony of the Palace Hotel. This palace, former residence of Napoleon III, saw this imperial city take the fold of the surf culture. Over time, the seaside resort, refuge of white Russians, where Coco Chanel and Picasso came on vacation, has weathered cool attitude to erect in lifestyle. While the surf had been banned by a decree in 1957, “it has now entered our genes, says Michel Veunac, the current mayor. People come from all over the world to practice this sport and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle. ” Biarritz lives to the rhythm of the swell, the moment when the best waves are formed. There are those who scrutinize the ocean as they jump out of bed and straddle it at dawn. There are others, who organize their agenda around a single priority: surf at the right tide. And the last, less addicted, who praise, through these rituals, well-being.

In the heart of the city, the Grande Plage Biarritz.© Benjamin Nitot

It all started in 1956. Peter Viertel, American screenwriter, stays in Biarritz for scouting. He is working on the adaptation of “Sun Rises,” Hemingway’s novel. With him, Richard Zanuck, the son of producer Darryl Zanuck. Richard is Californian and surfer. Bluffed by biarrot waves, he brought his US board with the filming equipment. But his father reminds him on the other side of the Atlantic. It is therefore Viertel, a novice, who will try the experience at the beach of the Côte des Basques. On the sand, young people in the area look at this guy trying to stand on a longboard without succeeding. They recover his board on the shore while the American returns to swim. Pierre Laharrague is among them. “The leash, the thread that connects the surfer to his board, did not exist,” says the man, now 81 years old. Viertel will eventually smash his craft on the rocks. He will leave it to the kids and come back the next year, after a few lessons. “He had learned that wax was needed to join. Georges Hennebutte, a friend, had repaired the board from the previous year. Paraffin was used, used to close the jars of jam, and eventually stood up. Thus, the year 1957 is that of the pioneers, those who are nicknamed the surfing Tontons: Jo Moraiz, Jacky Rott, Michel Barland, Pierre Laharrague, Joel Rosnay … Paraffin was used, used to close the jars of jam, and eventually stood up. Thus, the year 1957 is that of the pioneers, those who are nicknamed the surfing Tontons: Jo Moraiz, Jacky Rott, Michel Barland, Pierre Laharrague, Joel Rosnay … Paraffin was used, used to close the jars of jam, and eventually stood up. Thus, the year 1957 is that of the pioneers, those who are nicknamed the surfing Tontons: Jo Moraiz, Jacky Rott, Michel Barland, Pierre Laharrague, Joel Rosnay …

Michel Larronde, the first Frenchman to ride waves of 30 meters, and his daughter Maelee.© Benjamin Nitot

From then on, the surf spirit will creep into the pores of the biarrot city. Even if we do not put ourselves in the water, we go to the Côte des Basques, the most famous spot to admire the knights of the swell that tame the wave summer and winter. To make the beauty between bathers, you have to go to the Grande Plage. “This is where a physical and radical surf was born in the 1980s,” explains Eric Graciet, 55, a local child, who transmitted the virus to his three boys. “This practice has moved to the beach of Marbella,” said Michel Larronde, the first French to face waves of 30 meters. Those looking for tough waves are here. Each spot has its surf schools. Jo Moraiz founded the first one in 1966. “It’s an accessible sport,” explains Christophe, his son, who took over. It only takes an hour to learn how to stand up. For others who have not grown up with a board at hand, it’s often the kids who start, and then the parents get started. Like Jean-Marc and Muriel Dubois, who came on vacation to surf their four children. This Franco-Belgian couple dropped Paris and the job that went with them to settle near the waves and enjoy this lifestyle. They created their activity: Laboratoires de Biarritz make organic cosmetics with red algae from the coast. “When we have big weeks, we surf at 6 o’clock, as others are jogging before going to the office. It’s our valve to support our business leadership responsibilities, “says Muriel. For others who have not grown up with a board at hand, it’s often the kids who start, and then the parents get started. Like Jean-Marc and Muriel Dubois, who came on vacation to surf their four children. This Franco-Belgian couple dropped Paris and the job that went with them to settle near the waves and enjoy this lifestyle. They created their activity: Laboratoires de Biarritz make organic cosmetics with red algae from the coast. “When we have big weeks, we surf at 6 o’clock, as others are jogging before going to the office. It is our valve to support our responsibilities as entrepreneurs, “says Muriel. For others who have not grown up with a board at hand, it’s often the kids who start, and then the parents get started. Like Jean-Marc and Muriel Dubois, who came on vacation to surf their four children. This Franco-Belgian couple dropped Paris and the job that went with them to settle near the waves and enjoy this lifestyle. They created their activity: Laboratoires de Biarritz make organic cosmetics with red algae from the coast. “When we have big weeks, we surf at 6 o’clock, as others are jogging before going to the office. It is our valve to support our responsibilities as entrepreneurs, “says Muriel. Like Jean-Marc and Muriel Dubois, who came on vacation to surf their four children. This Franco-Belgian couple dropped Paris and the job that went with them to settle near the waves and enjoy this lifestyle. They created their activity: Laboratoires de Biarritz make organic cosmetics with red algae from the coast. “When we have big weeks, we surf at 6 o’clock, as others are jogging before going to the office. It is our valve to support our responsibilities as entrepreneurs, “says Muriel. Like Jean-Marc and Muriel Dubois, who came on vacation to surf their four children. This Franco-Belgian couple dropped Paris and the job that went with them to settle near the waves and enjoy this lifestyle. They created their activity: Laboratoires de Biarritz make organic cosmetics with red algae from the coast. “When we have big weeks, we surf at 6 o’clock, as others are jogging before going to the office. It is our valve to support our responsibilities as entrepreneurs, “says Muriel. Laboratoires de Biarritz produces organic cosmetics with red algae from the coast. “When we have big weeks, we surf at 6 o’clock, as others are jogging before going to the office. It’s our valve to support our business leadership responsibilities, “says Muriel. Laboratoires de Biarritz produces organic cosmetics with red algae from the coast. “When we have big weeks, we surf at 6 o’clock, as others are jogging before going to the office. It is our valve to support our responsibilities as entrepreneurs, “says Muriel.

Read too. “It took 60 years to talk about surfers”

The surf attitude is not only available in Volkswagen combis with boards or clothing brands, but also in yoga classes, cafes, restaurants … and even friends, sharing, good food. When the weather is nice, even during school time, families arrive at tea time in one of the beach bars. While the children are playing on the sand, adults are decompressing at sunset. The tables widen around the pintxos (bites), sprinkled with a glass. Picnics are improvised on the rocks. “This art of living is linked to the ocean and the food land,” says Serge Istèque, president of the merchants of the halls. Going to the market is an obligation. In the morning, we shop there before drinking coffee in a nearby bistro. The evening, we go for the tapas bars. “Surf culture is a relaxed spirit, synonymous with well-being, freedom and communion with nature,” adds Pauline Ado. People adhere to what surf represents. Biarritz is a little Malibu with Euskadi sauce. Bascollywood has nothing to envy California, except perhaps its wave, often sunnier. But wet for wet …

The Shaper House© Benjamin Nitot

Surf attitude is also friends, sharing and good food: practical guide

Make your own board

It’s possible at Shaper House. In this warehouse, there are workshops, materials and advice provided by Franck Perez, the pro in this area. In the “shape” room, the polyurethane foam roll takes its shape. In “glass” you can cover it with fiberglass and resin. In a third room, it’s sanding. The operation requires four to five times three hours of work for a subscription of 60 euros per month. The board returns from 500 to 1000 euros, the same price as in a store. “People come here for an experience,” says Julien Créchet, one of the creators of the place: shaping from A to Z the board of his dreams to design. “Shaper-house.com

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