The world’s northernmost Francophone city is just minutes from the border with Belgium. Life in Dunkirk has always been oriented towards the sea, whether through historic whaling and fishing or trade. The port remains active today and also shuttles passengers across the channel to Dover.
But for you and me the sea also brings fun at the beach or exhilarating walks in dune landscapes. The name “Dunkirk” is also synonymous with the withdrawal of the Allied armies from France in 1940, and there’s a top-notch museum set right where this operation was coordinated. In the city don’t miss the UNESCO-listed belfry and museum of the port with its historic ships.
Lets explore the best things to do in Dunkirk:
1. Musée Portuaire
Dunkirk’s 19th-century tobacco warehouse is one of the few historic buildings spared by the war and offers an evocative home for a museum that will tell you the long and absorbing story of the port.
Among the many exhibits are those devoted to the city’s whaling and cod fishing industries in the 19th-century that required six-month expeditions to the waters around Iceland.
There are three heritage ships moored at the quay next to the museum, the largest of which is the three-mast Duchesse Anne, built at Bremerhaven in Germany in 1901 and the only tall ship you can board for a tour in France.