The west coast of France is ideal for luxury travellers seeking natural beauty, gastronomy and outdoor adventure. We’ll show you the coast’s most exclusive and stunning places
Situated on the splendid Bay of Biscay, Biarritz is one of the west coast’s most-coveted destinations for nature lovers, those in search of gorgeous beaches and maritime activities, excellent food and local culture. While it has a reputation as mainly being a hub for surfing and other rugged water sports, luxury travellers who prefer more low-key activities will also find plenty to love about this Atlantic-coast hub in France.
For one, it offers a variety of sublime beaches and wild coastal scenery. Whether you wish to get out into the water to try your hand at kitesurfing or scuba diving, take a stunning coastal walk along the Basque coast toward destinations such as Hendaye and Guethary, or prefer to spend most of your time indulging in seawater treatments at one of the area’s luxurious spa hotels, there’s something for all tastes in Biarritz. And if secluded, private beaches are what you’re after, we’ll make sure you gain access to some of the very best.
Stay & Eat in Biarritz
Two of the finest hotels in this seaside city also boast wonderful onsite spas. The Hotel du Palais, a historic gem that was built in the mid 19th century as a summer residence for the Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugenie, crowns the Grande Plage, one of the city’s most important beaches. Its onsite spa and Guerlain treatment rooms, luxurious pools, gourmet restaurants with seaside views and other amenities make this an obvious choice for visitors in search of a little regality and history.
Meanwhile, the 5-star Sofitel Biarritz le Miramar Thalassa hotel and spa is less historically important, but is also a wonderful place to enjoy luxurious suites overlooking the blue waters of the Basque coast, pamper yourself with spa treatments from La Prairie and Decleor, and swim in heated seawater pools situated on the deck and inside. Private villas at the hotel mean total exclusivity is a possibility at this hotel, and the onsite gastronomic restaurant serving Basque specialties with an emphasis on healthy, fresh ingredients will add to your sense of luxuriant well-being.
Some of the finer restaurants in Biarritz include the Les Rosiers, a one-star Michelin establishment renowned for its innovative, modern creations rooted in Basque gastronomic traditions. Meanwhile, L’atelier de Gaztelur features remarkable cuisine focused on fresh local ingredients, and is situated in a medieval building with a lush, greenery-filled patio.
Heading north to the Acquitaine region and its own breathtaking coastlines, the resort town of Arcachon offers all manner of charms for the discerning visitor. Situated only about an hour away from Bordeaux, this seaside town– along with Pyla-sur-Mer (see #3) are favoured by those who embark on wine-tasting in the region, then want to return to the fresh coastal air and rugged luxuries of the Atlantic coast.
Built in the 19th century as an oceanside health resort for the residents of Bordeaux, Arcachon boasts charming beaches with sparkling water, and is especially reputed for its oysters. Anyone who loves oysters or is open to discovering their gourmet possibilities will find plenty of opportunities to do so in Arcachon.
Exceptional Hotels & Restaurants
Near Arcachon, the Villa La Tosca is an opulent haven in a quiet corner of the Arcachon Bay, tucked close to lush pine forests. Private villas are also available for rental, offering an additional level of luxury and exclusivity. An outdoor pool, “zen garden”, and private access to a calm corner of the bay make this a prized spot for high-end visitors. Private chefs, meanwhile, prepare dedicated gastronomic experiences for guests, who can taste wines to pair from the villa’s own cellar. This also makes an ideal spot for a luxurious honeymoon in France, with a dedicated romantic package offered for couples. Quiet, seclusion, and true luxury? Yes, please.
Notable restaurants in the Arcachon area include the restaurant at La Co(o)rniche in Pyla-sur-Mer, and Le Patio, boasting a Michelin star and featuring some of the region’s finest seafood. Both are ideal for tasting Arcachon’s world-renowned oysters and shellfish.
Meanwhile, the nearby town of Pyla-sur-Mer, with its formidable sand dune standing 110m high and 600 m wide, is a true natural wonder: nestled between the ocean and a pine forest, the dune is a sublime site to behold, and has been described as a “menacing sand wall” by many. Pyla-sur-Mer, a place ideal for private, quiet luxury, offers much more than this odd natural feature, of course.
Where to Stay & Dine
In Pyla-sur-Mer, not one but two remarkable hotels designed by Philippe Starck are situated in close reach of the Dune du Pilat: La Co(o)rniche is a chic, gorgeous spot overlooking the sea and the dunes, conceived in a bold modern style that nevertheless harmonises well with natural landscapes. With the entire design centred around poetry and collage, this hotel is ideal for guests who adore art and culture as much as they do exclusive surroundings. Large, luxurious rooms with expansive terraces look out to the sea and the dunes; meanwhile, the onsite Ren spa affords moments of true indulgence and relaxation.
Meanwhile, only a couple of minutes away is the 5-star Ha(a)itza hotel and spa, opened only in 2017 and already renowned as one of the west coast’s most-coveted places to stay. With the (re)design of this hotel, Philippe and Ara Starck chose a warmer and more traditional register, transforming the iconic hotel first built in 1930 and popular with celebrities including Yves Montand and the designer Jeanne Lanvin into a new treasure for the 21st century. Colourful stained glass windows created by Ara Starck catch the light differently at different times of the day, creating enchanting reflections and prismatic effects. The onsite spa Haaitza, like its counterpart at the Co(o)rniche, offers relaxing treatments by Ren, and the hotel’s Skiff Club restaurant
This coastal city in rugged, breathtaking northwestern Brittany doesn’t always get associated with luxury, but for those in search of peace, quiet and intimacy, it might make for an ideal high-end break. As The Telegraph notes, its quiet, unassuming charm and characteristic Breton architecture make it worth at least a weekend of exploration, fresh air, gastronomic discovery and pure relaxation.
Situated in the Finistere section of Brittany on the Atlantic coast, Roscoff is located along one of the west coast’s loveliest cycling routes, stretching 1,400 km along the coast. For anyone in search of outdoor adventure, this is an ideal hub for exploring the coast by bike. Sailing fan? Taking a private sailing tour along the Finistere coast and visiting gorgeous local islands such as L’ile d’Ouessant, l’ile de Batz and Belle-Ile-en Mer is highly recommended to discerning travelers with an adventurous spirit.
Roscoff is also noted for its distinctive architecture, wonderful seafood and quietly luxurious amenities. Far from ostentatious, it can’t be called glamorous, but it offers the deeper charm of historical riches and cultural authenticity. Its nearby megalithic sites, distinctive Breton architecture, hamlets and understated manors are sure to charm anyone who appreciates depth over glitz.
Where to Stay & Dine
The Hotel Brittany & Spa in Roscoff makes an ideal hub for exploring the region by bike, sailboat or yacht. Boasting a spa, heated swimming pool and private access to the beach, this is a gem of a hotel with a rustic but luxurious atmosphere. The onsite restaurant Le Yachtsman, helmed by chef Loic Le Bail, focuses on fresh local produce, delicious seafood and Breton specialities.
Meanwhile, the 4-star Hotel le Temps de Vivre is an unpretentious but lovely choice for a stay in the area. Offering sea views, a lovely garden and authentic Breton appeal, the hotel is ideally situated and quiet.
Restaurant worth exploring in Roscoff include the 2-star Michelin Patrick Jeffroy, lauded for the creative use of shellfish and other products derived from earth and sea.
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