The latest Christopher Nolan film, Dunkirk, has been highly anticipated and was launched with much fanfare. Telling the story of the Dunkirk evacuation when British and Allied troops were surrounded on the beach by enemy forces, the film boasts a star-studded cast, including Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Harry Styles.
Much of the film was shot in Dunkirk and the film gives an amazingly real sense of what the evacuation must have been like. The film crew used 6,000 extras and even used ships that had participated in the evacuation, as well as using genuine planes where possible.
But, what better way to get a feel for Dunkirk and the beaches than by visiting them in person?
Dunkirk is best reached by ferry – just two hours sail from Dunkirk you can be on the shores of France, seeing for yourself the stunning sandy beaches and soaking up the history of the area.
DFDS Seaways operates ferries from Dover to Dunkirk – there are 12 crossings each day and fares can be purchased for as little as £30 each way, including a car and up to nine people.
Dunkirk port is not as busy as nearby Calais, but still takes 3.2 million passengers each year. Travellers use it for ease – its size means that it hardly takes any time to exit and you can be on the road straight from the ferry in a matter of minutes. Its location east of Calais means that it is a perfect point of entry for onward travel into France, but also to neighbouring Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.
Before you leave the Port though, why not stay a while in Dunkirk?
The beaches, of course, are not to be missed. Aside from their historical significance, they are wonderful to stroll along, and if you are an outdoor enthusiast, then you can try kitesurfing, land sailing or even mountain boarding over the beautiful white sand dunes.
Other ‘must sees’ in Dunkirk include famous World Heritage belfries, of which there are three; the Gravelines belltower; the Saint Eloi lighthouse; and the watchtower of Dunkirk’s town hall. All of which can be climbed, with stunning panoramic views from the top. A perfect way to kick off your trip and get your bearings.
While in Dunkirk, you can’t leave without visiting the Dunkirk War Museum, located in Bastion 32, the headquarters for the French and Allied Forces during the Battle of Dunkirk and Operation Dynamo.
At low tide, several shipwrecks from Operation Dynamo can still be seen, including the wreck of the Crested Eagle, a British paddle steamer. Some of the shipwrecks are also now an important natural habitat for several different species. There are several guided tours available for visitors.
Finally, a trip to the Forts des Dunes is recommended. A military installation designed by General Sére de Rivières and built in 1878, it’s located in front of a natural reserve and played a big part in the Second World War and the German occupation.
So, if the film has inspired you, then why not hop on a ferry and sail over to Dunkirk to experience the area for yourself. You definitely won’t be disappointed.