The west coast of France faces the Bay of Biscay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. The bay is noted for its sudden, severe storms and strong currents. The Côte d'Argent is the long stretch of coast from the mouth of the Gironde River to the Spanish border, which – at over 200km – is the longest, straightest and sandiest in Europe.
The endless beaches are backed by high sand dunes, while behind lies the largest forest in western Europe, Les Landes. Despite these attractions, the lack of conventional tourist sights means that outside July and August the coast gets comparatively few visitors, and away from the main resorts it's still possible to find deserted stretches of coastline.
There are several resorts along this coastline, most notably Biarritz, about 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the Spanish border. Biarritz is a stylish coastal town, 8 km west of Bayonne. Biarritz is a well known and popular seaside resort, but the town is expensive.
In the eighteenth century Biarritz took the first step to becoming a tourist destination when Comtesse de Montijo spent two relaxing family holidays here. During the following century the town's popularity increased, Kings and Queens from different nations as well as celebrities from the film world were guests. Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth all explored the “Atlantic Monte Carlo”. Today the city is mostly a tourist destination, but it still maintains its personality and has avoided downgrading. The majority of visitors come from nearby Spain and the rest from France.
Grand Plage is the classic beach and Miramar beach is the most fashionable on the entire Atlantic coast. Biarritz has become a hub for surf enthusiasts and surfers gather here and at several other beaches from Biarritz all the way up to Hossegor.