Name / Description

Biscay, Bay of


Banks, Bays and Sounds



Part of / Flows into



France (off Atlanic coast)

Additional Notes

wide arm of the Atlantic Ocean, indenting the coast of W Europe from Ushant island off W Brittany (NW France) to Cape Ortegal (NW Spain); 45�00'N 03�00'W. Noted for its sudden, severe storms driven by NW winds. The tidal range (up to 40 ft) is among the highest in the world. The rocky NE (Breton) and S (Cantabrian) coasts of Biscay are irregular with many good harbors. The SE shore is straight, and lined with dunes. The chief ports are Brest, Lorient, Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle, Rochefort Arcachon, and Bayonne in France and San Sebasti�n, Bilbao, and Santander on N coast of Spain. Nantes and Bordeaux, at the head of the Loire and Garonne estuaries, respectively, are reached by oceangoing ships. There are several well-known resorts along the Fr. coast, notably La Baule, les Sables-d�Olonne, Biarritz, Royan, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The bay has important fishing and oyster grounds. The Span. term Mar Cant�brico [Cantabrian Sea] and the Fr. term Golfe de Gascogne [Gulf of Gascony] refer to the respective abutting natl. territories of Spain and France; the former is limited to the waters off the N coast of Spain, while the latter usually applies to the waters S of Brittany and off the Landes and Basque coasts. The coastline forms a right angle where the Fr.-Span. border reaches the bay. The name of Biscay is an anglicized version of Vizcayan , its Basque name.