Visit Dunkerque in Hauts-de-France: sandy beaches steeped in wartime history and Flemish-influenced cuisine.
Feel Dunkerque with our top 5 sensory experiences…
See the stunning views from the recently re-landscaped, 27-hole Golfe de Dunkerque Grand Littoral
Hear the fascinating commentary on a boat cruise around Dunkerque’s historic port
Smell steaming bowls of moules-frites served on restaurant terraces by the water
Taste Flemish and Picard influences in the rich local stews and casseroles, and accompany them with an artisan beer or juniper liqueur
Touch the bar of a windsurf as you catch the waves, or the handlebars of a bike to explore the coastline.
Dunkerque is a town steeped in history, despite being badly damaged during the battles of 1940. One of the most memorable events in wartime history was played out on the beaches of Dunkerque: thousands died during ‘Operation Dynamo’ but, thanks to the heroism of the rescuers and the evacuees, the end result was the conservation of a much-needed fighting force that helped to turn the war.
The area around Dunkerque has miles of sandy beaches and vast dunes. The beach at Malo-Les-Bains is particularly popular in summer for swimming and sunbathing and when the winds are prevalent, wind surfers are in their element. Local watersports centres specialise in sailing, sand-yachting and canoeing and inexpensive tuition is available on the beaches at Gravelines and Dunkerque itself. A stunning golf course at Golfe de Dunkerque Grand Littoral has been recently re-landscaped to provide a 27-hole course inspired by Dunkerque's 17th century fortifications – taking a swing off artillery towers and bastions and navigating water hazards make for an unforgettable golfing experience. For those who enjoy walking and trekking, there are 600 hectares of protected dunes along the sea between Dunkerque and the Belgian border. Cycling is another popular way to explore the coastline. Visitors can also hire rowing boats, electric boats and water bikes, or choose a tour with commentary onboard a passenger boat which will provides a fascinating and educational one-hour cruise around the port.
A blend of Flemish and Picard influences, Dunkerque’s cuisine is rich and varied. Endives are a local speciality, as are carbonade flamande (a beef and onion stew made with beer), coq à la bière (chicken in a creamy beer sauce) and rabbit with prunes. Choose from the artisanal beers and local liqueurs, such as genièvre (made with juniper), to accompany your food. The cheeses of the region are full of character, especially the Vieux-Lille and the strong cow’s-milk cheese Maroilles, which is used to make the local tart known as flamiche. The famous moules-frites should be eaten with your fingers, fresh from a chip stand.