Biarritz A.A. Convention: Resort of the Kings

by Bruce B.

Our Biarritz A.A. Convention has been fortunate to feature A.A. speakers with long-time sobriety—since its inception, the average length of sobriety for speakers has been 40 years. Participants come from all over the Anglophone world with enthusiastic support from the USA and the British Isles.

An excuse to visit France and share recovery

Being a lone English-speaking A.A. in the French Basque country has its limitations. The concept of a Biarritz convention was originally a means to bring quality A.A. meetings to a region where none existed in English. The benefit of organizing the convention has in fact proved to be one of service to others around the world looking for an excuse to visit France and share recovery with others in a safe, friendly, and loving environment.

Photo credits available upon request to thepoint@aasfmarin.org

In 2019, two invited American speakers will share more than eighty years’ combined sobriety between them. A group of San Francisco AAs are pre-booked with plans to incorporate some tourism and go on to the Tossa de Mar Costa Brava convention six hours’ drive away the following weekend.

As with so much in life, the Biarritz Convention started with an unforeseen coincidence spiritualists call “God-At-Work” miracles. A life founded on administration in architecture, building, sailing, publishing and coaching had honed my skills to the point where organizing a convention seemed possible. Thanks to working with the surfing industry in the 1990s and 2000s, I absorbed helpful elements from marketing, trade shows, competitions and storytelling. The result was the excitement of a big, party-like event where everyone was a winner.

Whilst attending an A.A. convention in Spain in 2015, someone suggested another European October convention might fit into the agenda. My imagination fired up and I planned out the essential elements in my mind’s eye with Biarritz’ associated surfing, quality hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. We planned the schedule and invited inspiring speakers.

Service to others around the world

Biarritz, with its history of royal connections, is constantly the center of the world’s attention. In 2016, the city hosted the World Surfing Games, forerunner to the 2020 Japanese Olympic Games surfing events. In 2019, Biarritz is hosting the G7 meeting and World Longboard Surfing Championships. And in 2024, Biarritz will host the Olympics surfing competition.

Attendees like the sound of Biarritz (even though they don’t know it), the Indian summer weather in October is superlative, and the World Surfing Tour French Pro is on at the same time. Plus, Lourdes is only 90 minutes away for those seeking spiritual immersion.

No need to worry about your French, Spanish or Basque language talent—most people in the area speak English. World-famous San Sebastian and Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum are close by, just across the Spanish border, as well as some of the finest dining in the world. The Basque Culture is a unique experience of language, seafaring, music and dance. Whaling was developed by the Basques as early as the seventh century. The region has a wealth of tourism attractions with no glitter, noise, or razzmatazz. Access is easily accomplished by air, train and road.

The pièce de résistance for 2019 is the venue hotel, designed like a cruise ship and located right on a southwest-facing beach, a unique situation in Biarritz (truly a regal resort). One point of interest is the person who took me to my first meeting in 1990 was the first speaker at the first edition of the Biarritz convention. Reflecting the quality and merits of our Biarritz Convention, he will be returning in 2019—we are all winners.

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