During our mini-vacation in the Basque Country, we of course had to visit the northern part (Iparralde) as well. Things are different there than in the southern part (Hegoalde). Window shutters in red and green still dominate, but blue is quite frequent as well. The housing estates come across as overly planned and perfect with their shiny white buildings. Except for the souvenir shops and a set of Basque flags over the vegetables in the Champion supermarket, Biarritz (Miarritze) above all felt French.
Last week, Biarritz obviously was the place to visit. When we walked over the bridge and up to the view point at la Rocher de la Vierge, I think that everybody around us spoke Spanish. Looking out over the beach where the view of a classic grand hotel was disturbed by a number of modern monster constructions, I realized how reluctant I would be to fight for a square meter of sand here during the high season. If my wife insisted we go, I would prefer to stay at one of the cafes in the idyllic town centre.
One of the advantages of expat life is that you have the chance to (relatively) easily go to places which did not make it to the top of your travel list while you were in your native country. Who am I to judge Biarritz after all? I have never dreamt going there.
Having said that, only today did I realise that there is an Orthodox church which we missed to look for. It was built for the Russian aristocrats who used to frequent Biarritz before the revolution. I cannot deny that there is a special charm in these traditional posh resorts.