"La Belle Vie"

Bergues makes the big-time

Gravelines and Bergues – between them these twin charmers fortify, in every sense, the fascination of this historic corner of the Flemish coast.

Star-shaped fortresses designed with wall-to-wall flair by Vauban, Louis XIV’s military mastermind, each plays a starring role. Bergues boasts tree-lined canals and a slender, sandy coloured belfry with a nine bells’ chime. Wait for the full carillon of 50 played live at the Monday market selling specialist cheese, beer or sausages.

Gravelines, the fort by the sea, muscles in (or should that read mussels) with seafood fare and tours on foot or by boat. Learn about cross-Channel ‘smogglers’, the buccaneering Jean Bart and how it grew as a port for Icelanders fishing for cod. Chill out amid the blooms and bronze statues in Les Jardins de l’Arsenal.

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