John has been a rugby enthusiast for many years, particularly supporting Ireland and Irish teams - both parents are Irish, his mother coming from Cork - but, since going to Biarritz, he has become an avid BO supporter. The BO v Munster Game is his dream match but leaves him in a quandry as to which team to support on April 3rd.
Moira's main proccupation is to learn French. She says she is also "learning rugby" having discovered that it can be enjoyed in warm sunshine with a plastic glass of ros wine in hand.
John and Moira are retired (early, of course!) and enjoy living in Biarritz with their brown standard poodle, Seamus.
In general, they find French people friendly and helpful, particularly if you say the odd word in French, announce early on that you are Irish, Scottish or Welsh and say, "Comprenez-vous anglais?" rather than, "Parlez-vous anglais?" - which usually produces the reply: "Non, mais vous parlez fran ais". !!
Bad timing actually finds them and Seamus in England at the time of the match. However, John has been awarded a solo passout to enable him to fly to Biarritz for the necessary long weekend. A Dublin friend will be joining him to give him moral support on the vital day.
They have produced the following information which they hope will be of benefit to those Munster supporters planning to visit the Pays Basque and like members of the Biarritz Olympique club, the O'Briens urge those supporters to base their visit in the beautiful resort that is Biarritz.
Places To Stay, Eat & Drink In Biarritz.
Biarritz is not a very big town, but still large enough to be interesting. There s a huge range of bars and restaurants and the following suggestions are based on personal tastes and preferences.
In general, we d avoid Place Clemenceau, the main street where prices are high. It s pretty touristy , but you might like that. Certainly, if the weather is warm, you can sit outside and watch the world go by. All roads lead from Place Clemenceau so it s a useful place to ask for if you are lost. Galerie Lafayette is also there if you have time to visit only one shop when you are in Biarritz.
More scenic, perhaps, is the area between Place Clemenceau, the Casino and the Grande Plage, where there are several restaurants and bars.
Biarritz has a wide range to suit all tastes and pockets. Try these web sites: http://www.ville-biarritz.fr/ANGLAIS/cadre_accueil.htm http://www.ville-biarritz.fr/ANGLAIS/cgi-bin/hebergement.asp http://www.novaresa.com/Biarritz/disponibilites.php
Quartier D Espagne
The centre of Biarritz is fine but the area we prefer as more authentic and one which is beginning to come up in the world, is in part of the Quartier d Espagne. There are a number of restaurants and our favourite real French local Bar in rue d Espagne and rue Harispe. These are about 10 mins walk from Place Clemenceau. Either go straight up ave Victor Hugo, then ave Mar chal du Joffre and, when you can t go any further, turn right into rue d Espagne. Rue Harispe is on the left, at the junction, about 70 metres along the road. Alternatively, go up rue Gambetta, past Les Terrasses restaurant at the roundabout, past the next roundabout (and magnificent painted wall) on your right, and straight into rue d Espagne.
** Bars and restaurants with the asterisk symbol are located in rue d Espagne or rue Harispe in the Quartier d Espagne.
Your walk back to your accommodation afterwards should include a detour via rond-point Liechtenberger and nearby car park to look at the sea at night time.
There are many little bars and restaurants that serve a plat du jour over lunchtime. This is simple, not expensive and usually good. About 8 -11 for one or two courses, plus coffee or glass of wine. Service is also quicker if you opt for the plat du jour dishes rather than pick from the wider menu.
House wine is sold by the pichet 1 litre, or litre. It is usually cheap and reasonably good. Red is best value for money; ros is drunk a lot in this area; white is not usually so good; a named bottle is a better choice. Juran on sec is a pleasant, fairly dry, local white.
Majestic 5 avenue Reine Victoria. Decent pizza restaurant and quite inexpensive. Restaurant les Terrasses 31 avenue de Londres. Excellent pizzas, pastas and general French cuisine. The Magret du Canard [duck] is recommended as is their fish dish, Merlu. It is inexpensive and fairly central perhaps 20 for two courses plus house wine for one.
Very busy, popular with locals and tourists alike. Good service and friendly. Located beside the roundabout Helianthe, next to the Radisson SAS Hotel. From the town centre, walk up rue Gambetta.
Restaurant le Taj Mahal, avenue de la Gare. A rarity in France a good Indian restaurant. Restaurant Pascal Ondarts 14 esplanade Port Vieux. A well know rugby watering hole, owned by a former French rugby international player. Food served too.
If you are looking for something a bit more upmarket Chez Albert in the Vieux Port and L Operne (fantastic view out to sea), avenue Edouard V11, the street between Place Clemenceau and Hotel du Palais are both worth a try. Crabe Tamboure rue d Espagne ** Busy, local restaurant beside the excellent PMU Bar Tabac. Has good fish dishes, but a full range of meat dishes as well. Inexpensive, about 20-25 per person, including wine. Best to book beforehand to be sure of a table. Le Caf d Espagne 39 rue d Espagne. ** Late night bar. Does salads, sandwiches and tapas. New owner, needs a helping hand. Txititun (rue Harispe)** This is a recently renovated restaurant, which has excellent food, but needs support. If you are in a fair-sized group you could almost certainly get in without pre-booking and liven the place up. The young couple running it will love you for ever. It s close to Le Crabe Tambour, if you find that full up, and the PMU Bar. House red wine is ok. Connoisseurs should taste the white before risking the litre pichet, we think Les 3 Salsas 5 rue Harispe ** Mexican. We have never eaten there, but it is always busy and friends recommend it. Opposite Txititun. L Auberge 22 rue Harispe ** Small restaurant specialising in dishes of the Pays Basque. Again, recommended by friends. Maharahaja Caf rue Harispe ** Indian restaurant. Cannot honestly comment on this one. La Tantina de Burgos, 2 pl Beaurivage ** Basque and sea foods. Located on the far side of the roundabout at the end of rue Harispe. Bar attached. Easily identified by its blue and white tiles exterior d cor. Semi-trendy.
Bars Generally bars charge between 2 and 2.75 for 25cl of Amstel type beer. A glass of house wine red or ros are best - usually around 1.30 -1.60 . If you enjoy red, a glass of Bordeaux is worth the extra few centimes.
i Ethorri [PMU], 47 rue d Espagne ** Our favourite bar in BTZ. Very friendly owner, Georges Mireaud. Completely unpretentious, locals welcome visitors and some will try out their English on you. In common with many French Bars, it opens at about 7am and closes at 8 pm, 9 pm on Fridays, but there is some flexibility. Handy for the Crabe Tamboure, other Quartier Espagne restaurants; and Les Terrasses Restaurant. Miguel, 11 rue Perspective, Cotes Basques. Said to be good. (Brother-in-law told us he had been at The Barmy Whale one Sunday evening, when we thought we d lost him). du March beside Les Halles, the main market [off rue Gambetta] Good place for a morning beer, coffee or hot chocolate. Excellent wine by the glass. Jean beside Les Halles, the main market [off rue Gambetta] Stylish bar, haunted by the local movers and shakers .(The cognoscenti might recognise Karl Lagerfeld when he is there). Serves good tapas. Caf , 9 avenue Foch Very popular with BOPB supporters owned by Serge Betsen and Phillippe Bernat Salles. Does some food plats du jour. Probably the best known Rugby bar in town. La Coupole, 22 place Clemenceau. Good central location and place to watch the world go by. Has a Brasserie and serves plat du jour. Les Colonnes, avenue Edouard VII. Good central location also; outlook to the sea. Similar to Les Colonnes. Bar Plaza Berri 42 avenue Foch A very friendly Basque sports bar, with a pelotte indoor court. Stays open late. Just up from the Shell garage, about 10 minutes from Place Clemenceau. Nice owner- Jean Pierre Machicote. Handy for a drink before or after a meal at Restaurant le Taj Mahal, avenue de la Gare Bar Haou, rue Gambetta. Location is all. If the weather is good, it s nice to sit out on the pavement, with beer, wine or coffee, watching the world go by, especially people breaking bits off their freshly baked baguettes purchased from the nearby boulangerie. The Irish Bar, rue Victor Hugo. This Bar might be open. We have yet to meet anyone who has been in it so cannot offer an opinion. It s painted turquoise and a Beamish sign hangs outside.
This is a beautiful city. There many bars and restaurants. It is famous for its Tapas Bars Remember that Spanish restaurants don t usually start serving evening meals until about 9.30 pm.
Spain is less expensive than France for food and drink. Restaurant food is generally regarded as being inferior to French cooking. Tapas (usually priced per item, total cost not high but worked out, somehow, by the bar attendant) are good between meals and to help absorb the alcohol. They are available over lunchtime and early evening.
This narrative runs the risk of becoming too long BUT it s worth mentioning local bus services as well. They run to timetables (copies available on the buses or from a booth in Place Javelquinto, where No 1 and No 2 can be picked up) and every bus stop has a printed sheet showing the estimated time of arrival at that particular stop. Tickets are a flat 1.20 regardless of the number of stops on your journey. They can be bought on the bus, have to be validated in a machine just beyond the driver, and can be re-used within an hour of the first franking.
If the proposed Rugby Party at Stade Aguilera takes place on Sat 2nd April, Nos 1 and 2 buses go fairly close to the Ground (where there will be a bar and snack bar). Walking from the centre of Biarritz take avenue Verdun from Place Clemenceau - to the Ground takes 30-40 minutes, or longer if you stop at other bars on the way.
Bayonne (the home of the bayonet) is worth a visit if time permits. No 1 bus takes you there by the shortest route, a journey of 25-30 mins for 1.20 each way. It is a working town , but with a range of things of interest. Cazenove in Rue Pont Neuf is famous for its drinking chocolate, an experience (not cheap) not to be missed. On the rugby front, Bayonne has just entered the Top 16 in France. To everyone s surprise (in both towns) Bayonne defeated Biarritz in their first encounter of the tournament early in the season. For BO supporters this was worse than defeat by any foreign team. The replay in Bayonne is due to take place on 25th or 26th February. Bayonne play in pale blue and white so be careful in your choice of outfit in Biarritz.
In Biarritz and San S bastien you are in the Pays Basque, seven regions which overlap France and Spain. There is a wealth of history, culture and tradition and many people as proud as the Irish - regard themselves as Basque first, French or Spanish second.
Munsterrugby.ie would like to warmly thank John and Moira O'Brien for the time they took in compiling the above information. We suspect that by the time the kick-off comes on April 3rd, John will have solved his quandry and be firmly on the Munster side and to that end we pledge to have him seated right in the midst of the Munster supporters.