Surfing

Once the almost exclusive haunt of the rich and pampered, Biarritz is now known more as the capital of European surfing (although in truth, the real centre of European surfing are the small towns of Hossegor and Capbreton, around 25km to the north). The city's main beach, Grande Plage, is good from mid-low tide on a moderate swell, but the 4km-long stretch of beaches that make up Anglet to the south are usually more consistent.

There are loads of surf schools around town that offer lessons from around €35 per hour; the tourist office keeps a list. Make sure your school is registered with the Féderation Française de Surf (FFS; www.surfingfrance.com) to make sure you get the best standard of training.

Thalassotherapy

Thalassotherapy ('sea healing'), using the restorative properties of seawater (along with seaweed and mud), has been popular in Biarritz since the late 18th century and continues to serve as an antidote to 21st-century ailments such as stress and insomnia.

In Biarritz, put thalassotherapy's curative powers to the test – or simply bliss out – at the following:

Thalassa Biarritz Oceanfront luxury and relaxation at the Sofitel.

Thalmar Biarritz This spa at Plage de Marbella is part of an established network.