Biarritz, FranceNovember 2015
Today the city of Biarritz is world renowned as a hotspot for glitzy resorts, casinos, sunbathing and surfing.
Instead of lounging in the nonexistent summer sun, we viewed Biarritz through autumn-coloured glasses. Outside of tourist season, the city seemed positively barren. The few people we did see about were bundled up warm against the sea breeze, though there were a few surfers and boogie boarders braving the swells. I also took the opportunity to purchase stamps for postcards I had held onto since Siena (yes, Siena in Italy, which we had left over a month before).
The symbolism of whales is prevalent almost to overuse, where it can be seen on churches, restaurants, and even bins. Whaling was a lucrative business in the Bay of Biscay from the 12th-century, though over the centuries the whales stopped visiting and the whalers had to venture much further out or turn to cod fishing. With the increase of tourist spending, fishing disappeared completely. (Let me interject here about tourist spending. We passed a gelateria which we were tempted by until we saw that one scoop cost €3! Biarritz is way too swanky.)
The other is only tenuously linked to a writer, that being Earnest Hemmingway. When Hemmingway's novel The Sun Also Rises was being turned into a film, several different locations were used. One was Biarritz (big surprise, I know, as this is a blog post about Biarritz). The screenwriter Peter Viertel was on set when a friend of his from California came to visit. With him he took a large plank of wood commonly known as a surfboard and was the first person to catch a wave in Biarritz. The rest is surfing history.
Today's post was almost called: Drinking In The Emperor’s Bathwaters