Surfing in Europe: The New Cité de l'Océan et du Surf Museum in Biarritz

Biarritz first earned its claim to fame when Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie chose to summer in Southwest France. (Their villa has since morphed into the Hotel du Palais, a sumptuous spa hotel overlooking the Atlantic.) The beaches near the Basque coast of Spain are also renowned for their surf. This is where the world’s best surfers come to play on the waves by day, and tuck into fabulous French-Basque cuisine by night. News from France: The surf capital of Europe has opened a cutting-edge museum designed by architects Steven Holl and Solange Fabião around the concept “under the sky”/ “under the sea.”

The Cité de l'Océan et du Surf Museum strives to “raise awareness of oceanic issues and explore educational and scientific aspects of the surf and sea and their role upon our leisure, science, and ecology.” The building itself is an architectural masterpiece shaped like a wave, seamlessly integrated into the surrounding landscape. Exhibits provide historic and scientific info about the world’s oceans, and IMAX simulations recreate the surfing experience so dramatically that even landlubbers will get a kick out of it.

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