Small World: Buzios, Brazil

Low-key glamour still lures visitors to Brigitte Bardot's holiday spot

Ugly Island: not the most enticing of labels, but fortunately this isle off the Brazilian resort of Buzios does not live up to its name. Just a couple of hours' drive along the coast from Rio, Buzios is endowed with 26 tranquil coves, plus umpteen pousadas (privately owned inns) and upmarket shopping and eating places.

Ugly Island: not the most enticing of labels, but fortunately this isle off the Brazilian resort of Buzios does not live up to its name. Just a couple of hours' drive along the coast from Rio, Buzios is endowed with 26 tranquil coves, plus umpteen pousadas (privately owned inns) and upmarket shopping and eating places.

Until the collapse of the Argentinian economy, Buzios was the preferred holiday haunt of thousands of Porteños, as the inhabitants of Buenos Aires are known. But now the resort is having to seek business from its European roots.

French pirates first sought shelter in Buzios's quiet coves in the 17th century. Along with the Dutch and the Portuguese, they made it a whaling and slaving station; one of the beaches, Praia Joao Fernandes, is named after a plantation owner. Slavery, on which the economy was based, is still commemorated by a "slaves' graveyard" up the hill beside the little fishermen's church of Santa Ana.

Jump a century and, in 1964, the French returned, courtesy of Brigitte Bardot on an extended holiday. Today the actress is commemorated in the numerous esplanades, night-clubs and hotels named after her, and in a life-size sculpture. The bronze, by Christina Motta, shows her in the familiar jeans and matelot shirt, straw hat in hand and seated on her suitcase - with just enough space for visitors to have their photo snapped sitting alongside her.

In the 21st century, footballers Ronaldo and Romario, and pop-stars Madonna and Michael Jackson have sought ostentatious anonymity here. Yet, with its lack of traffic, casual attire at even the smartest of dinner tables (Jean Troisgrois blazed a trail for Parisian restaurateurs to set up shop here) and mixture of local and visiting populations, there's something beguilingly slow and old-fashioned about the place.

The choice of hotels is vast. It's possible to pay between $250 (£140) a night (on the cliff-edge Galapagos Hotel) or as little as $10 (£6) in one of the many backpackers' hostels on the town fringes. The best rooms, however, are in the middle range. At the Hibiscus Inn, you get bungalow-style comfort set into a hillside garden. Casas Brancas - architect-renovated but still soothingly traditional - offers superlative, inexpensive, luxury. It also boasts a brilliant Uruguayan chef, who uses the best ingredients to create delectable salads and desserts and a mouth-watering lemon risotto.

Despite the tourists and the celebrities, Buzios continues as a fishing port of sorts - anyone swimming out into the sunset from the Praia Azedinha must circumvent the fishermen's nets. While fish are caught in commercial quantities, there always seems enough for each fisherman to carry a bucketful into the prettily whitewashed one-storey beach houses.

And bathers can find fresh fare of their own, choosing between lobster, squid, giant prawns, sardines and a selection of white fish chargrilled at kiosks along the pavement, washed down with copious caipirinhas (Brazil's version of the Cuban mojito: white rum with masses of ice, lime, mint and sugar).

The more permanent restaurants have three-course menus with wine for around $12 (£7): most excellent of all, in our experience, was O Caravelho on the main drag, the Rua das Pedras.

If you're in line for a more energetic holiday, you can take to the hills with a horse or a hang-glider: there are stunning views all round. You can even opt for a night ride when the moon is high. Or sail (with or without your own crew) to the untruthfully-named Ilha Feia (Ugly Island) for some snorkelling or surfing.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee