Dunkirk's Beaches

Malo-les-Bains, 2km northeast of Dunkirk's city centre, is a faded turn-of-the-20th-century seaside resort; its broad, sandy beach, Plage des Alliés, is named in honour of the Allied troops evacuated to England during Operation Dynamo. A further 7.5km northeast, off Zuydcoote, the wrecks of vessels sunk in 1940 can be dived; certified divers can contact local scuba club Dunkerque Plongée (www.dunkerque-plongee.fr) to join organised wreck dives. A handful of wrecks are accessible on foot during especially low tides; the tourist office has details of guided tours.

Stretching east from Malo-les-Bains to the Belgian border, the Dunes Flamandes (Flemish Dunes) represent a unique ecosystem harbouring hundreds of plant species, including rare orchids. Tides permitting, you can walk or cycle along the wet sand or the GR path from Malo-les-Bains to Leffrinckoucke, Zuydcoote and Bray-Dunes.