When you make a trip to Búzios, as you do your research, you’ll find that the French played a significant part in its history. It was French pirates who in the mid 1500’s made great friends with the local Tamoio Indians and harvested Brazilwood to take back with them to France.
But didn’t the Portuguese discover Brazil?
Yes, but because of the nooks and crannies of the Buzios Peninsula, the French were able to work with little hinderance from the Portuguese.
It lasted only twenty years until finally the Portuguese had enough. In 1575, the whole area was cleansed of the Tamoio and the French. Portugal’s D. Antônio Salema, the newly appointed Governor of Rio de Janeiro, massacred the tribe of Tamoios and expelled the French.
Some creative entrepreneurs turned to planting bananas in the nearby flats, but eventually Buzios would revert to what nature provided best – fish.
And it was a tiny fishing village with few homes when again in 1964, the French paid a visit. Actress Brigitte Bardot, near the prime of her career, arrived in Rio in January of 1964, to enjoy time with her Brazilian boyfriend Bob Zagury. Bardot couldn’t even venture outside Zagury’s oceanside apartment because of the paparazzi. She had almost decided to simply fly back to Paris when she came up with a plan she hoped the media would agree to.
The plan was to let Zagury’s friend, French photographer Denis Albanèse, who had been living in Rio for about ten years, journal Bardot’s vacation in Brazil and simply share the photos with the press if they agreed not to hound her.
The plan worked.
A thrilled Bardot was able to venture out in Rio, incogneto, wearing a coat and black wig. But days later, boarded Zagury’s yacht to beautiful Angra do Reis and eventually north to Búzios. No need to travel in disguise, Brigitte Bardot walked the beaches of Búzios and enjoyed it so much she stayed until mid April.
And keeping her promise, she authorized Denis Albanèse to release some 400 photos of her stay in Brazil.
From that visit and the media coverage that followed, global curiosity grew about a place that a world famous movie star so loved, she stayed much longer than planned. Indeed, Bardot came back later in 1964, in December, to celebrate Christmas in Búzios.
If you’ve ever been to Paris in Decemer or January, you’ll realize why Bardot chose the beaches of Búzios.
An attempt to have her back to Búzios in 2004, celebrating 40 years since her very first visit was met with failure. Bardot, then 70, didn’t get around that much and had a different agenda, animal rights. It would have been nice to have her there even though so much has changed. Most credit Bardot with putting Búzios on the map.
In her honor, the municipality of Búzios commissioned local sculptress Christina Motta with creating a statue which now sits on the Orla Bardot. It’s a great likeness of Brigitte, sitting on her suitcase, hat in hand, and gazing out on the ocean.
The Bardot Cove is lined with stores, restaurants, and a few hotels. It’s a nice walk at any time of day, starting from the town pier and heading east toward Praia da Armação. You’ll note the schooners anchored here, and the tiny colorful fishing boats bobbing along the curve of the bay.
But the best time to visit the Orla Bardot is near sunset. The sea is a cobalt blue. The sky in all shades of yellow, orange and red. As you take it in, small boats make anchor as the daylight comes to an end.
A glance at Brigitte, and she’s still sitting – looking out in awe. And with a sunset in Búzios, it’s little wonder.
Orla Bardot – Shore Index:
- Sand – very little, near the pier area. No beach. In low tide, area is covered in rock and marine life.
- Facilities – make sure to make a stop at nearby Bar do Ze for coffee or drinks. Other restaurants/facilities abound.
- Shade – several gazebo-like structures placed along the walk give shade.
- Notes – after a nice sunset, walk back west to the center of town and enjoy Rua das Pedras, the main drag. Enjoy!