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In 1940, Dunkirk (French: Dunkerque; French Flemish: Duunkerke, meaning 'church of the dunes') became world famous thanks to the heroic evacuation of Allied troops. Destroyed by German attacks, it was rebuilt after the war – though, alas, during one of the most uninspired periods in the history of Western architecture. While the modern city has precious little charm, it does offer visitors worthwhile museums, a family-friendly beach and colourful pre-Lent carnivals.

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