Life is always better at the beach right?! In that spirit my friend Jill and I decided upon a beach day a couple of weeks ago. Usually when I plan a trip to the Belgian Coast I end up in Knokke or Ostend, so we figured it was time for a change and went to Blankenberge instead. Unfortunately the weather gods weren’t exactly in our favor, so we could forget about working on our tan and sipping on cocktails in one of the many beach bars. Luckily Belgium’s second largest beach resort has plenty to do besides chasing the sun. The city has a beautiful heritage from its Belle Époque past so we decided to learn more about that and explore Blankenberge during a historical city walk.
City walk along Blankenberge‘s main sights
Strolling the streets of the city center you are constantly reminded of Blankenberge’s glorious Belle Époque past. The term Belle Époque refers to the period from 1870 to 1914, which was a time of innovation and prosperity in Western Europe. A new elite of rich middle-class people came to be and their desire for ‘joie de vivre’ and travel started the first seaside tourism. It is in that time that Blankenberge went from being a small fishing village to one of the most popular seaside resorts in Europe.
The first landmark we encountered during our walk from that period, was the Paravang. It was built in 1908 by the local government to provide shelter from the wind for travelers enjoying the fresh sea air while watching the fisherman at work in the port. The paravang is well preserved, so you can still enjoy its promenade with shell motifs while overlooking the marina.
Another architectural treasure is the Belgium Pier. Ever since its construction in 1894 it has been an irreplaceable part of our national heritage. It’s a real joy to walk over the 350 meters long promenade over the sea and enjoy the spectacular views.
Enjoy ‘Moules Frites’ at Montmartre
Belgium is famous for its seafood and Blankenberge is no different! As the mussel season just started we were eager to try the mussels at Brasserie Oosterstaketsel, known for its delicious seafood. Unfortunately for Jill and I, the brasserie was enjoying a day off, so we end up going to Montmartre, a Parisian-style restaurant located between the Casino and Belgium Pier. Montmartre is the ideal stop for travelers who love enjoying the sea and the delicious Belgian cuisine.
Visit the Belle Époque Center
If you would like to know more about the Belgian Coast towns during the Belle Époque, a visit to the Belle Époque Center is key! The museum takes you back in time through posters, postcards, clothing and film material, which was very interesting. The highlight of the visit was the Rooftop Terrace, with a beautiful bench made out of mosaics from Belle Époque villas.
Shop at Escape Store
I’ve said it before you guys (and I’ll propably say it again!); Instagram introduced me to some fine spots over the years and that was also the case with Escape Store! This amazing concept store is located in the ‘Kerkstraat’, Blankenberge’s main shopping street. The quote ‘I got a crush on the world’ immediately caught my eye upon arrival and I knew that this was a store that I was gonna’ like! You can find so many items that will help you bring back those holiday feels home with you! And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that right?!
Coffee & Cake at De Kolonel
If we would have visited Blankenberge on a sunny day, we probably would have ended our day trip over cocktails at Bamboo Beach or Salito Beach Club. However as that wasn’t the case, we figured that ‘coffee is always a good idea’ and went to the new coffee bar ‘De Kolonel’, located near the harbor. Make sure to try their ‘Kolonel Cappuccino’, which does not only looks good, but tastes good too. Oh and don’t get me started on that Tiramisu pie; simply delicioso!
At first I was a bit disappointed that our beach day wasn’t as sunny and hot as we hoped for! Luckily we ended up learning a lot about the history of Blankenberge and the Belgian Coast, which I taught was very interesting. Nevertheless, even on a cloudy day, life is better at the beach! Walking in the Dunes plus a fresh sea breeze, equaled relax to the max and that’s all that mattered right?!