BUZIOS

Enlarge the Buzios Armaçao Pier pictureAs far as thank-you gifts go, this is a good one. The Brazilian seaside resort of Buzios honoured its favourite holiday-maker with her very own stretch of seafront. And what a strip of land the Orla Bardot is, running from the centre of town to one of the peninsula's 23 beaches with breathtaking views of the bay.

Enlarge the Buzios Center pictureEver since Brigitte first “hid” here with her Brazilian boyfriend in 1964, a litany of world stars, from Mick Jagger to Madonna, have followed her path. But none left quite the impression Bardot did. Her declaration of love for the tiny fishing village catapulted it into the global spotlight and led to its inevitable, albeit tastefully restrained, development as a hub of upmarket tourism. These days it is, rather unsurprisingly, known as Brazil's St Tropez.

Enlarge the Brigitte Bradot Sculpture pictureNot that the locals seem to mind her intervention - with good reason, they positively celebrate it. There's a Bardot cinema. There's even a plaque commemorating the room in which she stayed for the summer. And in the middle of the Bardot seafront sits a bronze statue of the French actress, straw hat in hand, savouring the view as if it were 1964 all over again.

Enlarge the Buzios Beach pictureNowadays, the comparisons with St Tropez extend well beyond Bardot's patronage. For Buzios, just three hours' drive from Rio, is the playground of Brazil and Argentina's elite.
There is glamour here all right and it's very, very Brazilian. Every torso is tanned to the shade of the wood that gave the country its name and many look like they are no stranger to the scalpel.

Enlarge the Geriba Girls pictureBut it's the de rigueur beachwear that sets Brazilians apart. “Tiny” is about the only way to describe it. The girls favour bikinis the size of Dairylea triangles with thongs that could cut their own slice of cheese, while boys see no shame in skimpy white briefs that look like they were bought from Versace Junior. It wouldn't work in Brighton, but in Buzios it all looks right.

Enlarge the Buzios at Night pictureNight-time in Buzios is when its cobbled and immaculately manicured central area really comes alive. Well-groomed tourists amble down Rua das Pedras, the town's busiest street, casting a critical eye over the boutiques and international restaurants that run its length. But the real focus for these well-heeled perambulists is each other: this is where the evening stroll is turned into an art-form. For those without a jumper to drape over their shoulders, the best thing to do is skip dessert at whatever eaterie you choose, grab a chocolate crepe at the open-air Chez Michou, sit back and watch the action.

Enlarge the Buzios Caipirinha pictureNight-time in Buzios also means one other thing: caipirinha, the ubiquitous Brazilian cocktail of cane spirit, sugar and lime. A caipirinha may be the closest that alcohol gets to class-A drugs. It has a taste so sweet that one is never enough and a kick as hard as a Roberto Carlos thunderbolt. Four of them and you'll be talking to your flip-flops.

Enlarge the Buzios Buggy pictureBut people don't come here primarily for the night-time action; they come for the beaches. And they have a pretty daz zling selection to choose from. Many of Buzios' 23 glorious specimens are within walking distance of the town. Much better fun, however, is to hire an open-top buggy (think of a Mini Moke designed by the Cartoon Network) and decide which stretch of sand suits you best.

Enlarge the Buzios Sunset pictureThe best thing about Búzios, however, is still free: the view from its seafront. Tiny white fishing boats pegging the curve of the bay. The sea is the cobalt blue of Brazilian football shorts. Yachts and water-taxis skirting around the Ilha do Caboclo, a tiny fist of green just a few hundred yards out to sea. With a scene like that, it's little wonder.

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Buzios Adventure Hostel [Buzios, Brazil]
Buzios Adventure Hostel
Av Jose Bento Ribeiro Dantas, 1200 Fds - Tartaruga
28950-000 Buzios - Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
Phone: +55 (22) 2623 3013
Fax: +55 (22) 2623 6367