With a long sandy beach adorned by a famous art deco pier – and lots of bars to relax in after a walk around the dunes – Blankenberge is one of Belgium’s top seaside resorts. At one point it was once very exclusive: Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his family for example were supposed to holiday there in 1914 after a last official engagement in Sarajevo.
Today Blankenberge wants to extend a warm welcome to all of us, royal background or no. Obviously, the main attraction is the beach. Yldau and Fabian spent the day with Tim, a Blankenberge lifeguard. Tim proudly showed them some newly renovated lifeguard posts, which EU funding helped to achieve.
The Belgian coast might not have the same glamour factor as the Côte d’Azur, but the locals (and that includes Belgians, Dutch and Germans) are very fond of it and it can get rather crowded in peak season. The beaches of East Flanders and of the neighbouring Dutch province of Zeeland boast some of the finest sand in Europe.
With the new posts, watching the beach dwellers has become easier, Tim explained.
People are not aware enough of the dangers of the sea, he added, and it’s not funny seeing them going into the water where signs are up warning them not to, because of the beach’s treacherous submerged rocks.
Without a doubt a highlight for our travellers came when Tim arranged for them to check out all the vehicles at the life guards’ disposal: quad bikes, a jeep and a lifeboat. Another one was catching the view from the rooftop of the restaurant on the famous pier.
Now, Blankenberge wants to raise its game even higher. In a joint project with Zeeland called “120 kilometers of quality coastline” the beach managers are developing ecological and innovative ways of looking after the coast.
They carry out beach clean-ups and do campaigns to raise awareness of the coast – its wonders as well as its dangers for holidaymakers. Last but not least, they’re aiming to run all beach facilities on renewable energy. Way to go, Blankenberge!
Cycling through Slovenia and Italy, jumping on a boat to save the sea, getting artsy in Ravenna, nurturing peace in Marzabotto, and lots and lots of food. Catch up with us on week 3 of the Mediterranean route!