Cities and ports
At the roots of our maritime traditions
If you're comfortable on a boat, if you love walking along the marinas, if the harbour atmosphere gives you the urge to travel, then you might well be descended from pirates or Icelandic fishermen; or is it just that the sailing style suits you down to the ground?
Louis XIV, famous for his naval prowess, left his mark all over Dunkerque Flandre Côte d’Opale. When this King made the privateer Jean Bart a noble, he turned the Dunkirk sailor into a symbol of courage. Today, in the port of Gravelines, the region's maritime heritage takes pride of place - with the construction of France's biggest historical sailing ship. On the quays of Dunkirk, you'll find the magical past of France's 3rd biggest port.
Take a trip back in time on board the three-masted Duchess Anne, a training vessel and the only ship of its kind in France, moored right by the city centre. Or, if you dare, head off to sea on board a speedboat, 'Le Texel', to see the docks from a whole new angle. In the quayside museums, there are reconstructions displaying the old harbour professions and the courage of the men who used to head off straight into the storms, men on whose shoulders rested the fates of whole cities.
The German army once flew its flag from the Risban lighthouse; nowadays, you can walk up the 276 steps to the most breathtaking of panoramic views. To the West, the Petit Fort Philippe lighthouse, with its 116 steps, looks down over the banks of the Aa river and the bird sanctuary.
So, all aboard?