Malo Les Bains Beach
Malo-les-Bains seaside resort tourist information
48bis, digue de Mer
Tel: 0033 (0)3 28 58 10 10
Open during the tourist season
Dunkirk’s seaside is located on the east side of the town astride the residential district of Malo Les Bains.
It was founded in the 19th century by Gaspard Malo, a shipowner and the son of a pirate and offers seven kilometres of vast gently sloping sandy beach that stretches all the way to the Belgium border. It was from here that over 300,000 Allied troops were evacuated during the epic Operation Dynamo retreat in May 26–June 4, 1940 and this is what makes Dunkirk a heroic town.
Today, Malo is a leisure beach as fine as any you would find elsewhere, but it still hasn’t managed to transcend its dark war-torn history and emerge as a seaside resort in the minds of holidaymakers. This is a shame because its blond soft sands are ideal for grabbing some rays and its attractive promenade is perfect for a slow seaside saunter between Digue des Alliés, where most of the cafés and restaurants are located, to Digue des Mers where the view becomes more industrial. On the western end of the promenade is a monument that commemorates the soldiers who fought until 4 June 1940 and the 250 boats lost in the evacuation.
When the autumnal winds come to town, the beach becomes a haven for local kite fliers, adrenaline junkies who surf the waves and sand yachters. Beyond the beach and especially into the residential streets that pan out from the coastal road you’ll find a few grand villas left over from the resort’s Belle Epoque heyday when follies were the fashion. There’s also a grey brick casino and a variety of atmospheric bars and cheerful seafront restaurants. Two popular beachfront brasseries, are L’Iguane, 15 Digue des Alliés, a down-to-earth establishment offering generous servings at €7 a plat, and the stylish but more expensive Le Pavois, at 175 Digue de Mer (menu €16).