Are you visiting Biarritz France and the Basque Country soon? The Rocher de la Vierge is a must, as is the Grande Plage or Port des pêcheurs, the fishermen’s port.
Even if you live here like me, the walk from the lighthouse to the Basque Coast, via the Rock, is one of our favourites.
In this article, you will discover:
- why visit Rocher de la Vierge, the rock of the Virgin Mary.
- practical information to prepare your trip.
- the history of the rock.
Updated on 29.05.2023
If you are looking for a hotel near the rock, read my article How To Choose The Best Luxury Hotels In Biarritz France here
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Where are the Rocher de la Vierge and the Museum of the Sea?
The Rocher de la Vierge and the Museum of the Sea are situated in the centre of Biarritz, in the South-West of France, at about 10 minutes from La Grande Plage. They are situated face to face, the Rock being on the ocean side. It is located between La Grande Plage and the Côte des Basques beach.
What is the Rocher de la Vierge?
It is a rock formation with a statue of the Virgin Mary, which is accessed via a metal footbridge. In English, you can translate it “the Rock of the Virgin”.
Why you should visit Rocher de la Vierge?
The rock is one of the emblematic monuments of the Biarritz waterfront. It is a must see place for walks, 10 minutes from the Grande Plage. With a blue sky, after a storm, during a storm, with a few clouds, by rough sea or by calm sea, at sunset, the panorama is always different!
It offers a 360° view:
- the ocean as far as the eye can see,
- Landes beaches on clear days,
- the Bayonne estuary and the beaches of Anglet,
- the Biarritz lighthouse,
- Miramar Beach,
- Biarritz Grande Plage with Hôtel du Palais,
- the Atalaye plateau,
- the Museum of the Sea,
- the beach of Port-Vieux,
- the Villa Belza,
- the Côte des Basques beach,
- the Pyrenees,
- the coast with Saint Jean de Luz, Hendaye and Spain on a clear day.
It is one of the best places to enjoy Biarritz sunset.
How to organise your visit of Rocher de la Vierge?
Rates and opening hours.
The site is accessible free of charge and freely, at any time of the day or night. The only restriction is on days of severe storms when access may be prohibited because it is too dangerous.
How to access it?
The rock is located in the centre of Biarritz, about 10 minutes from the Grande Plage, between the Fishermen’s Port – port des pêcheurs – and the Old Port – Port Vieux – and opposite the Museum of the Sea.
You will have to walk to it. There are only a few parking spaces reserved for people with reduced mobility, the tourist train and buses. However, there are many paid and parking spaces throughout the centre.
You will arrive on the esplanade opposite the Museum of the Sea, cross the Eiffel footbridge, the tunnel under the Virgin and reach the end of the rock.
If you come with city buses, buses 10 and 13 drop off at Place Clémenceau, about 10 minutes from the rock.
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Where to stay close to le Rocher de la Vierge?
Of course, the best choice is the only palace hotel and Napoleon’s house, Hotel du Palais.
The Windsor Grande Plage Biarritz is also a very good, less expensive, choice.
The history and legend of the rock.
You will find everywhere the legend of the rock, linked to the presence of the statue of the Virgin Mary: Biarrots fishermen, caught in a storm, saw their last hour coming. A miracle happened. A divine light led them to the port and they returned safely. They erected this statue in gratitude to the Virgin.
A lovely legend…
The true history of this rock and statue is linked to Napoleon III. Following the construction of his summer villa on the Grande Plage de Biarritz, his relatives and the greats of the other European courts wanted to do the same. The city became a fashionable seaside destination. Napoleon needed a port to accommodate his friends’ ships. The task was started, but several successive storms destroyed the protective dike. Napoleon surrendered to the force of the elements.
However, one of his Italian prince friends had sent a statue of the Virgin Mary to protect the harbour entrance. Napoleon installed it on the rock, looking at the entrance of Bayonne harbour, in order to protect the boats that leave it…
FAQ on Rocher de la Vierge.
No. The Rock of the Virgin is a free and open place you can visit 24 hours a day, except during big storms.
The best way is to walk along the ocean, from Biarritz lighthouse to Côte des Basques. You can also ask me to organise your Basque Country tour. Find the information here
The famous Biarritz palace hotel, Hotel du Palais, is near the rock. See other suggestions here
Musée de la Mer is on the opposite side of the road. Côte des basques, Port Vieux, Villa Belza, Port des pêcheurs, Grande Plage, Hôtel du Palais, the Russian church, Sainte eugénie church, Biarritz casino, the Empress chapel, Biarritz lighthouse, Biarritz markets are all situated at a walking distance. They are the main attractions in Biarritz. There’s also a lot of bars and restaurants.
You now know why and how to visit Rocher de la Vierge in Biarritz, as well as the history and legends of this magical place.
Have you ever visited Biarritz? Did you know the legend related to the Rock of the Virgin Mary? Do you have other visiting tips to share? Feel free to share it with us as a comment.
You can read my full guide to Biarritz here
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