City Guide: Dunkerque
Dunkerque is a charming city in the North of France with a beautiful beach, a couple of remaining historic buildings and last but not least, a very troubled past. Check out this city guide to learn more about visiting Dunkerque!
Before we get into what Dunkerque is worth visiting for, it’s worth noting that I don’t think that Dunkerque is one of the most beautiful cities in France. In fact, Dunkerque has such a troubled past, especially with World War II, that it’s surprising that the city could preserve some of its beauty nevertheless. While I’d personally visit other cities in the region like Lille first, I’d say that a day trip to a city like Dunkerque could definitely be worth it.
The city center of Dunkerque – Saint-Eloi Church & Town Hall
The old town of Dunkerque isn’t comparable to the beauty of cities like Strasbourg or Nice. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth a visit as there are a couple of interesting buildings. The highlight definitely is the beautiful town hall of Dunkerque.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most famous building in the city – and it’s really beautiful.
Not far away from here, you can also find a couple of more imporatant historic buildings in Dunkerque, including the so-called Beffroi, the highest tower of the city.
Right opposite of the tower, you can find the Saint-Eloi Church, one of the nicest churches in Dunkerque.
Other places worth checking out in the city center are the Tour du Leughenaer and the Porte de la Marine.
There are also a couple of nice streets, which are worth walking through.
While not the most beautiful old town in France, I still think that walking through Dunkerque is a nice experience and well worth it!
Quai de l’Estacade & the Harbour of Dunkerque
Usually, a harbour area of a city isn’t particular interesting nor beautiful. In Dunkerque, this is only patly true. First of all, there are nice redeveloped areas like the Quai de l’Estacade, which is quite nice.
For those of you who are into architecture, the Quai des Anglais with its unique houses is worth checking out.
Then there’s the original harbour, which is nowadays more of a sports harbour used by locals. It’s quite nice to walk around here for a bit, but it’s not particularly special.
What’s interesting about the area though is that there is a tour of sorts leading you through the history of the city in the World War II (there’s even a movie about it, named after the city).
If you are into history, I’d highly recommend checking out this area of Dunkerque as it’s really interesting if you want to learn more about the past.
FRAC Grand Large & Museum Dunkerque 1940 Operation Dynamo
Speakign of the waterfront in Dunkerque, there’s another area worth noting. A little further from downtown, you can find a redeveloped museum area, which is home to the FRAC Grand Lage, among many other museums.
For example, you can find the famous Museum Dunkerque 1940 Operation Dynamo, which is focusing on the very interesting historic moment, which is also featured in the movie ‘Dunkerque’.
Just around the corner, you can also find a nice sculpture park, which is worth checking out.
When in this area, you should definitely take the Grand Large Bridge, which is leading you to the beach.
It’s a really interesting bridge when it comes to architecture, which is why I’d highly recommend checking it out. As I’ve said before, visiting Dunkerque is less about historic buildings, but more about history, which is why I think that this area of town is so interesting!
Beach of Malo-les-Bains in Dunkerque
Last but not least, there’s one thing about visiting Dunkerque I really loved: The beach.
I was aware of Dunkerque’s location, but just didn’t think that the city would have such a nice sand beach.
There’s also a promenade, which is currently being redeveloped and I’m sure it will be even nicer in the future as there are a couple of nice restaurants and cafés to sit down.
When you are done sightseeing in Dunkerque, definitely go here to sit down and relax a bit!
Overall impressions of Dunkerque
Is Dunkerque the most fascinating place to visit ever? I wouldn’t think so, but it’s a nice enough place for a day or two, especially when you are in the area. There are a couple of nice buildings in the old town, there’s a lot of history with great museums and last but not least also a lovely beach. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back here if I happen to be in the area!