After a rather difficult year, I was badly in need of a break and my holiday in Biarritz and San Sebastian was just that.
We booked this holiday prior to my accident and it gave me something to look forward to.
We’d found reasonably-priced flights to Biarritz and after I read Indie and Lily’s blog post on San Sebastian, we decided to spend two nights there also.
With the cost of two Airbnb’s and renting a car, it was definitely one of the more expensive holidays I’ve been on.
As we’d booked it a long time in advance, it gave me time to save up spending money, however, I did find myself buying clothes for holidays all summer…
I was worried about how my injury would affect my enjoyment of holidays but I actually walked for at least an hour most days.
The most amazing thing happened during our first evening there. I walked a few steps without my crutches! (I’d been trying to do this for some time but could only lurch rather than walk).
I couldn’t believe it as it had been FOUR MONTHS since I had last walked. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing when I showed my boyfriend and I almost cried with happiness!!
Biarritz is a hilly city so there were lots of inclines for me to navigate.
Our Airbnb host informed us that there was a free shuttle bus (the navette) into the city centre every day and we made use of that on several occasions.
However, the city centre navette only ran till 7.30 pm, which meant we usually went for dinner in the local area.
This wasn’t an issue though because our apartment was only 10 minutes from the bustling Les Halles area, full of restaurants and bars.
Our Biarritz Airbnb was a charming retro apartment with a huge terrace.
We spent most of our time at the apartment on the terrace eating outside or chilling in the sun. It was about a 15-minute walk from the city centre but on crutches it took longer.
One thing I immediately noticed was that there seemed to be few chain restaurants and stores.
I didn’t see one MacDonalds or Starbucks which was really refreshing. (That’s not to say they weren’t there but there certainly aren’t as many as at home…)
We stuffed our faces with delicious food, from ice-cream to seafood, burgers and frites, churros, croque madames et monsieurs and croissants.
Biarritz is full of gastronomic delights and my diet went right out the window!
Alcohol was also plentiful and I enjoyed several delicious mojitos!
We didn’t really go shopping in Biarritz apart from a brief trip to Galeries Lafayette but this was just for a browse.
We took two day trips, one to St Jean de Luz, a pretty little Basque town.
We lounged on the beach and enjoyed lunch there. I even managed to get into the sea and swim – yay!
Basque or Euskara is a bit of linguistic mystery, it has no relation to any other European language.
As we drove out of Biarritz, we saw more signs in Basque and signs featuring the Basque cross.
Sunday was rainy and we decided to drive up into the Pyrenees to a town named St Jean Pied de Port.
The town is famous for being part of the Camino de Santiago Compostela.
The hilly town wasn’t the easiest for me to negotiate but we walked right to the top of the town, stopping off for a coffee and a trip to a tiny local museum.
Walking up the steep hilly cobbled street in the rain was no mean feat!
I then took a rest while my boyfriend climbed up the Citadelle, a 17th century fortress sitting on the highest point in town.
On our last day in Biarritz, we wanted to visit the two main tourist attractions, the Rocher de la Vierge, a statue of the Virgin Mary which resides on a rock formation in the middle of the ocean and Le Phare, the historic lighthouse overlooking Biarritz.
However, my injury presented challenges as the Rock of the Virgin entails a long walk out on a metal footpath and the lighthouse has 258 steps and no lift!
We decided to catch a little tourist train out to the Rock of the Virgin (we thought it would let us off but instead it just stopped on the promenade).
This meant we only saw the rock from the distance but given my limited mobility, it was for the best.
It was €6 for a round trip which dropped us back to the city centre.
We drove to the Le Phare and enjoyed taking some photos of the beautiful scenery outside.
I decided against the climb and enjoyed a coffee instead.
The weather was mid-20’s to low 30’s most days with our final day being the warmest and most humid.
We’d gone to the beach that morning to catch a few rays.
That evening there was a thunderstorm which we enjoyed watching out the terrace doors.
After the storm passed, we went to a hipster burger joint called Bonheur. I wasn’t too hungry so just had fries with parsley and garlic -delicious!
The next day we had to rush as we got a message from our host asking if we’d left – we had forgotten to check what time we had to check out at! Oops!
Luckily, we were pretty much packed and ready to go and we set off for San Sebastian or Donostia as it’s known in Basque.
We were only in San Sebastian for two days but it was a wonderful two days.
Buses were plentiful so we didn’t need to use our car.
Our first day was spent strolling through the city streets in search of pinxtos.
We soon found a pinxto bar on a side street called Bardulia.
We sampled a mix of cold pinxtos here but to be honest they were quite underwhelming.
I noticed that one street was called 31 Agosto and when I discovered that’s because the city was burned to the ground by invaders on the date, apart from that one street.
We arrived on the 29th and apparently, there’s a commemoration on the 31st every year but we were leaving early that day.
We meandered down as far as La Concha promenade and took in the beautiful spectacle of the shell-shaped beach.
The promenade is lined with ornate white railings with old-fashioned street lamps at the entrance to the beach.
Beside the promenade was a stunningly beautiful carousel which stood out against the bright blue sky.
That evening we had burgers and one of the best mojitos I had all holidays at a restaurant called Muuk in the main square.
The burgers came with a tiny serving of potato shavings, kind of like mini chipsticks!
The following day we went to the beach where I finally got to wear my new bikini from PLT.
It turned rainy in the afternoon so we went shopping.
I had my heart set on a Longchamps bag but I hadn’t time to go to the Longchamps store in Biarritz.
However, we tracked down the only store selling Longchamps in the area.
N.B shops in San Sebastian tend to close between 2-4, so be aware of this if you are shopping.
The store in question, Styl, didn’t have a huge stock of Longchamps bags but I decided to get a navy rucksack.
While Stan Smiths were everywhere in Biarritz, in San Sebastian, everyone seemed to sport a Levis t-shirt. I picked one up in Noa and Judy for €25.
I also bought an Iron Maiden tee in Donostia Rock for €24.
After that I wandered through Stradivarius and Bershka, unfortunately, I didn’t get to Zara or Sephora. *sobs*
On our last evening, we stayed in with pizza and beer and watched some ridiculous Spanish TV.
There were some bizarre sketch shows that made us laugh but seeing bullfighting on one channel was horrible.
I highly recommend both cities and wish we could’ve had more time to explore San Sebastian. Have you ever been to either? Let me know.