Le Weekend à Biarritz

Le Guide de Biarritz

For the rugby fan, three bars will stand out: Red Café (9 Avenue Marechal Foch) is owned by Serge Betsen and Philippe Bernat-Salles and is the liveliest rugby bar in town, lined with souvenirs, shirts and flags. The Red Café will be the URSC HQ for Le Weekend. A message board will be set up there, so fans can be kept informed of the latest supporters’ information.

Down towards the beach on Place du Port Vieux is Café Caritz, a stylish bar/restaurant owned by another French international, prop Pascal Ondarts. Finally, Cote Vestiaire near the indoor market on Rue des Halles is small but perfectly formed, and kitted out to look like a changing room, complete with maillots from all over France and further afield.

The bars: As well as the Red Café, where there will be apero-tapas and a bit of craic for all Ulster supporters, an early evening spent in Place Sainte Eugenie, beside the church, is as pleasant as it gets in Biarritz.  Head for Le Napoleon and watch the sun go down with a 50cl pichet of the house rose, a carafe of water and a plate of olives.  Tell Antoine, the manager, that Terry Jackson sent you and you will get a warm welcome.  There are plenty of bars in the area serving tapas but the open aspect of the square gives Le Napoleon the edge.

The restaurants: You’re spoilt for choice again, but if you want a bit of rugby with your three-courser, Café Red and Café Caritz both offer lunchtime menus, and the restaurant at Hotel Au Bon Coin (just off the Avenue de Verdun on the road from town to Parc Aguilera) is a veritable maillot museum – you’ll spend more time recognising the framed shirts that line the walls than you will tucking into your steak-frites. Bar Brasserie Le Bartocq, opposite les Jardins Public further up Avenue Foch, is another rugby haunt – listen to the locals discussing the fates of Biarritz and Bayonne over an aperitif before watching a match on the big screen in the restaurant area. Others recommended by the local rugby fraternity are bar-brasserie du Jardin (avenue foch), Les Colonnes (avenue edouard VII), La Tratoria (pizzeria) (avenue edouard VII). On match day, if you book early, the brasserie at Parc Aguilera itself offers a no-nonsense pre-match three-courser that’s low on choice but high on quality. If it is a drink you need, in addition to the Red Café, try Les Colonnes (avenue edouard VII)or La Tasca (rue gambetta).

Le Cidrerie: For hearty dining and a certain amount of carousing and splashing around in hard cider, make this short excursion east of San Sebastián to the town of Astigarraga. Gigantic wooden barrels line the walls, and sidra al txotx (cider drawn straight from the barrel) is classically accompanied by ciderhouse specialties such as tortilla de bacalao (codfish omelet), txuleta de buey (beef chops), the smokey local sheep’s-milk cheese from the town of Idiazabal, and, for dessert, walnuts and membrillo (quince jelly). For those of you who have signed up to go on the URSC/Aupa Cidrerie trip to the Spanish Basque country, the bus will leave Parc des Sports Aguilera at 12 noon on Saturday 16 October, returning to the Red Café around 7pm.

Le Pre-Match Experience: Before the match, sample a bit of the pre-match anticipation with a three-courser or just a demi or two in the bustling Brasserie du Stade as mentioned above, and pick up a merguez and another demi round the back of Tribune Serge Blanco, where the supporters’ band will keep the atmosphere going.

Le Match: The match kicks off at 4pm on Sunday 17 October at the Stade at the Parc des Sports Aguilera.  Parc des Sports Aguilera is a five-minute taxi ride or a half-hour walk from town, straight up the Avenue de Verdun. The 13,500-seat arena is one of the most modern in the Top 14, and its two stands are named after the two Serges who have dominated the club’s recent history – former player and now club president Serge Blanco, and BO benefactor Serge Kampf.