zondag 2 oktober 2016

Out of the city and down to the seaside

No trip to the Westhoek would be complete without a visit to the seaside.

From Poperinge, it isn't too far to De Panne, at the western end of Belgium's straight coastline, which is about 67 kilometers long.

I am not a great fan of the Belgian coast, generally finding it too built up with ugly apartment buildings catering for the many tourists who flock to the coast in the summer months.


De Panne's promenade, in fact, has a backdrop of nondescript high rise buildings casting a permanent shade. Pranged between these monstrosities are some relics from a gentler age, typical seaside villas dating from around 1900, some of them in disrepair, as if they have given up competing with the modern age. Quite sad, really.


I am not a great fan of crowded beaches either, and I shudder at the thought of spending time there on a fine summer's day in high season.
It isn't too bad though on a bright September day, after school has started and the majority of the tourists have gone.

September 2014

The town does have its finer qualities. At the far west, extending into France, is the Westhoek nature reserve, which is the oldest in Flanders, founded in 1957, consisting of a large expanse of sand and dunes, where you can walk for hours. Trudging through the fine sand is quite a slog, and at times it feels like you are surrounded by nothing but sand. One of the sand plains seems so endless that you might think you were in the Sahara, which is its nickname!

September 2014
In the town itself, away from the sea, is the Dumont quarter, which has been protected since 1995. This quarter is a gem of architectural heritage created in the late 19th and early 20th century under the direction of architect Albert Dumont and his son Alexis, who designed the unique construction plan with rural cottages, built with respect for its existing surroundings. The villas were originally built in a cottage style, with more modern villas added later on.


As we'd done both the nature reserve and the Dumont Quarter in previous years, we just walked along the beach, savouring the sea air, shells crushing under our feet.


We admired the colourful beach huts De Panne is famous for and, although my camera must get tired of snapping these things, I snapped away, as I never tire of the cheery sight of them.


After lunch at the Kursaal, on the Promenade, we decided on a tram ride.
There's a tramline covering the whole stretch of coast from De Panne all the way to the chic resort of Knokke at the eastern end, so we hopped on and after about 30 minutes hopped off again in the town of Nieuwpoort.


Nieuwpoort is where the River IJzer meets the sea, and the very place where the controlled flooding of the IJzer plain, which changed the course of the First World War, was put into motion.


Along the western side of the estuary, a promenade of 2 kilometers leads from the town (Nieuwpoort Stad) to the sea (Nieuwpoort Bad), passing the marina, while on the eastern side there is a nature reserve. The two sides are connected by a ferry, which sadly only runs in high summer and during weekends.


The beach was strewn with razor shells, while small mussels clung to the western breakwater, being picked over by gulls and sandpipers in search of an easy meal.


After a bracing walk, our shoes full of sand, we took the tram back to the Panne, where our car was waiting to take us back to Poperinge.


Oh, and here's a proper look at the dress which was admired by some of you in one of my previous posts.


It seems like our little break whizzed by in a nano-second, and all too soon it was time to go home, just taking our memories and photographs with us.


26 opmerkingen:

  1. i would photograph the beachhuts again&again too! :-)
    together with the parasols and deckchairs they look so pretty in their striped "dress".
    your day by the sea looks lovely - and thank you for the pics of our fav architecture style, "heimatstil" called around here - it was quite a movement to build houses that match the environment.
    and you in your colorful dress match the sunny seaside perfectly!! <3
    xxxxxx

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    1. Those striped beach huts, deck chairs and parasols are what I think of when I think of the seaside. They've got such an old-fashioned appeal! On a grey day like this, I really wish I was there again ... xxx

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  2. Oh how lovely! I don't know what I like the most, the old villas, your bright dress, or the beach huts!

    Thank you for the seaside pics.

    Happy thrifting ;)

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    1. It's been a pleasure showing you these end-of-summer seaside pictures. Wishing you happy thrifting too! xxx

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  3. Gosh what a lovely day out you had. Two towns for the price of one. Was it too cold to go swimming in the sea or did you just not fancy it? I'm always tempted. The second town looks beautiful, how very well planned to have a tram all the way along the coastline. You look like summer in your dress and I love the striped beach huts xxx

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    1. It was a lovely day indeed, and probably warm enough to go swimming, but I did not fancy it. Come to think of it, there weren't too many people swimming ... That tram is really something, and the good thing is that I could use my regular travel pass for it. xxx

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  4. Your photos are gorgeous. I love all the striped canvas brollies and deck chairs, they look so inviting. Nothing quite like spend some time at the beach, and what a beautiful place to visit.

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    1. Thank you Sue! I agree that there is nothing quite like a visit to the seaside. It sure blows the cobwebs away! xxx

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  5. I love a day at the beach but I'm not too keen when it's packed with tourists, now is a perfect time to visit. Have loved taking the trip with you and learning more about Belgium, your photos are fab...I can never resist a beach hut either. x

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed that, Fiona. It was indeed a perfect time to visit. We always go the week after school has started ... xxx

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  6. Those beach huts are exactly as they were depicted in some children's book I remember from long ago! I almost feel like I know the place, and it is so wonderful to see your photos. Strange, the things a photo can trigger in long-forgotten memory.

    That dress. That DRESS! Sigh, it is perfect.

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    1. That dress has definitely been getting a lot of love. Oh, and I can imagine those beach huts in a children's book. That is probably part of their appeal. Glad to have triggered that long-forgotten memory for you. xxx

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  7. That really is a proper old fashioned kind of beach! isn't it marvelous? So much colour! Your dress fits in a treat! xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix! This beach is the longest on the Belgian coast, and it's certainly the most colourful. xxx

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  8. How pretty is your dress! You look fabulous!

    The red and white hut on wheels, isn't that one of those Edwardian bathing machines? It's beautiful xxx

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    1. Thanks Melanie. That beach hut look like those bathing machines indeed, but I guess they are all just regular huts. They certainly look kind of romantic, in an old-fashioned way ... xxx

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  9. That's a LOT of razor shells. I've eaten razor clams in Spain but wasn't keen on them; are they eaten in Belgium at all?

    You look fab in that dress. ALL the colours!

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    1. Thank you Mim! I'd never seen so many either! It was quite spectacular. They aren't really eaten in Belgium as far as I know, maybe just in some fancy restaurants. xxx

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  10. what pretty sunny images, i love your red handbag too

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    1. Thanks! I love using that handbag when travelling. It's waterproof and all! xxx

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  11. Fabulous dress, dear Ann. Love the punchy, cheerful hues - perfect for a lighthearted, happy place like the beach.

    Many hugs & happy start of October wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thank you so much Jessica. Those stripy seaside hues never fail to cheer me up. xxx

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  12. It is just SOOO quaint! I adore it! We have a Kursaal in Southend too!x

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    1. Thanks Kezzie. And fancy there being a Kursaal in Southend as well ... xxx

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  13. Wonderful photos! I would also have snapped away at those cheery beach huts and all of those wonderful older properties. Looks like a great seaside break x

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  14. Thank you! Those beach huts, parasols and deckchairs are simply irresistible. xxx

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