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Biarritz is a city which lies on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast, in south-western France. It is a luxurious seaside town and is popular with tourists and surfers.

Biarritz is located in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in the Aquitaine region. It is adjacent to Bayonne and Anglet and 11 miles (18 kilometres) from the border with Spain. It is in the traditional province of Labourd in the French Basque Country.

Vikings who invaded Gascony in 840 settled in Biarritz, which later participated in the whaling trade. Biarritz is a basque name attested Bearriz in 1170, Bearids in 1186, Bearritz in 1249. The Scandinavians settled in the area above the Gardague Beach. It has been suggested (disputedly) that the remaining Vikings became "Agots", a social group in Gascony not allowed to mix with the population at large. Segregation among these communities—there were many in Gascony and Navarra— disappeared only in the early 20th century.

Biarritz has long made its fortune from the sea: as a whaling settlement from the twelfth century onwards, in the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic properties, inspiring patients to make pilgrimages to the beach for alleged cures for their ailments.

Biarritz became more renowned in 1854 when Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III) built a palace on the beach (now the Hôtel du Palais). The British royal family regularly took vacations in Biarritz: European royalty such as Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and Alfonso XIII of Spain were frequent visitors.

Biarritz's casino (opened 10 August 1901) and beaches make the town a notable tourist centre for Europeans.

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Additional Photos by Manuel Mayorga (ManuMay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2370 W: 272 N: 4277] (34411)
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