The Best Museums and Galleries in Biarritz, France

The Cité de l’Océan offers many hands-on experiences
The Cité de l’Océan offers many hands-on experiences | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Biarritz is ideally situated on the beautiful Bay of Biscay, in the Basque region of southwest France. With stunning coastal landscapes and temperate weather, the city also benefits from an array of museums and galleries. Here are Culture Trip’s favourites.

Musée Asiatica

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France, Pyrenees Atlantiques, Biarritz, Musee d'Art oriental Asiatica (Oriental Art Musuem)
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Perhaps not the obvious choice for enjoying a day out in this luxurious coastal town, the Musée Asiatica hosts an incredible array of artefacts and artwork illuminating Asian cultures, including India, China and Tibet. The exhibitions are so expansive and engaging that you might forget you’re in the South of France and feel like you’re in the Himalayas or the temples of Kathmandu.

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Musée Historique de Biarritz

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The Musée Historique de Biarritz, which lies inside a picturesque former Anglican church, is a great choice if you’re looking to expand your general knowledge and widen your cultural understanding of the city. Its displays delve into the history of the area, from its days as a fishing village to its development as a seaside resort after Napoleon III chose it as his summer residence and its dramatic transformation after World War II bombings brought the city to its knees.

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Biarritz Aquarium (Musée de la Mer)

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France, Pyrenees Atlantiques, Bask country, Biarritz, the main facade of the Musee de la Mer built in 1933 by the architects Hiriart, Lafaye and Lacoureyre
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The Biarritz Aquarium, also known as the Musée de la Mer, lies inside a beautiful art deco building and makes for a great day out. The museum features 20 aquariums containing a wide variety of fish and other colourful and exciting marine life from the Bay of Biscay and oceans around the world. There is even a seal pool, offering an underwater viewing platform where visitors can watch the seals being fed every morning, as well as a shark tank for up-close views of the predators. It has knowledgeable and energetic staff on hand to ensure you’re well informed.

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Cité de l’Océan

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The Cité de l’Océan, on the outskirts of Biarritz, is a stunning, contemporary building with glass walls and sea views. The museum works in conjunction with the city’s aquarium, expanding upon its exhibitions, with information on science, sea life and marine history. It promotes hands-on education and has fun, interactive displays, including a surfing experience and a storm-out-at-sea simulator.

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These recommendations were updated on September 17, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.