Biarritz has a charm that connects directly to the sea. The waves reign supreme – stores have been known to close when they get too big. That lends an ease to life: everything is kept in perspective by the pull of the Atlantic. I first visited at the age of eight, with some family friends who have had a home here since the 1960s. Something about the place grabbed me and I convinced my family to begin an annual pilgrimage. I grew up in London, but every time my feet hit the land here I felt at home. 

Rocher de la Vierge headland
Rocher de la Vierge headland © Neige Thébault

We decamped to Biarritz from New York in 2020. My husband [the hairstylist Duffy] was working in Paris when all the airports started to close. We had an apartment in Biarritz at the time and decided to meet there. What began as a temporary stay turned into a permanent move. 

Lucy Chadwick outside at Miremont
Lucy Chadwick outside at Miremont © Neige Thébault

After more than a decade working as a gallerist in New York, I was keen to open a gallery somewhere that could foster a different kind of engagement. It had always surprised me that the contemporary art behemoth hadn’t found its way to this corner of the world. In July 2021, I opened Champ Lacombe with no real understanding of what the reception would be like; very quickly I started getting regulars. My dream would be to have some fellow galleries here, as community helps to sustain and develop an audience long-term. 

Beach cabins on the promenade
Beach cabins on the promenade © Neige Thébault

Biarritz is actually best in winter. The low-lying sun, dramatic sea and shift in pace after the summer means you can really enjoy the best of the region. I’ve also learnt its discretion. Biarritz is not somewhere that puts on a show or lends itself to airs and graces. It’s temperamental, which you either love or it’s not for you. I live in the centre of town, in the midst of the organised chaos, and a five-minute walk from our main gallery space (we have a second gallery 40 minutes inland, in Les Landes). Les Halles food market is my first stop every morning: Lobita serves the best coffee in town. 

Chadwick in Miremont tearoom in Biarritz
Chadwick in Miremont tearoom in Biarritz © Neige Thébault

I also live opposite Miremont, one of the oldest regional tearooms founded in 1872. It’s best on a rainy day when you can watch the storm over the sea from the main window. Make a stop at Maison Adam, founded in 1660 and known for the most addictive macarons – they’re not the Ladurée variety but a chewier Basque style. It also makes a great regional classic, Gâteau Basque à la Cerise, a cherry pie. And don’t miss Maison Arostéguy, the oldest family-owned delicatessen in France, with wall‑to-wall jars of spices, teas and wines. 

The façade of Miremont on Place Georges Clemenceau
The façade of Miremont on Place Georges Clemenceau © Neige Thébault
Chadwick at the patisserie counter at Miremont
Chadwick at the patisserie counter at Miremont © Neige Thébault

Michel Pujol, the vintage bookseller, is only open for a few hours a day, but it’s worth catching him for piles of rare and fascinating finds. I also religiously visit Fadead Vintage for the best vintage Levi’s outside the US. My favourite flea market is along the banks of the river in Bayonne every Friday. Watch a pelota game too – the local ball game is a rite of passage.  

Maison Arostéguy, a family delicatessen founded in 1875
Maison Arostéguy, a family delicatessen founded in 1875 © Neige Thébault

For restaurants, Chez Albert in the old fishing port is great for seafood. Café des Artistes is a classic bistro with delicious steak frites, run by close friends; Cheri Bibi has insanely fresh ingredients; and De Puta Madre, founded by the family behind the guesthouse Villa Magnan, is an essential visit when it opens in the summer. The latter is an extraordinary place to stay – a living, breathing theatre set, complete with resident donkey.

Chadwick walking at Les Cent Marches
Chadwick walking at Les Cent Marches © Neige Thébault

For most special occasions we congregate on the steps on the seafront at the Côte des Basques, where I have memories of family picnics that turned into community get-togethers. The best picnics are the simplest – fresh cheese, baguette, salad from Les Halles. After our summer gallery opening last year we had 35 pizzas delivered to the beach and laid them out on the concrete. Everyone grabbed a beer or went for a swim. We emerged to find people carrying a grand piano down the steps. The beach turned into a classical music festival – it was so magical and elemental.  

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