De Panne Tourist Attractions
It was originally a fishing village, very popular with artists, which quickly developed into a modern holiday center. It is much favored by the French, and has many attractions and all kinds of leisure activities. The township and its surroundings became famous during the First World War as being the only unoccupied part of Belgium and the residence of King Albert and Queen Elizabeth, whose government had moved to Le Havre. The king's military headquarters were in Veurne.On the far side of the frontier lies the French town of Dunkerque (English Dunkirk), heavily fought over in both world wars.
De Panne Beach
At low tide De Panne has the broadest beach of the entire Belgian coast, some 400m/440yds wide. This extends 12km/7.5miles to Nieuwpoort and in the other direction to Dunkerque in France, 17km/10.5miles distant. It is not surprising that the brothers Dumont constructed their first sailplane here more than 80 years ago. In doing so they instigated a sport which is ideally suited to the beach of De Panne. From time to time a spectacular sailplane race takes place here in November.
Dunes of Westhoek
To the west of De Panne extends the 340ha/840-acre national nature reserve of the Dunes of Westhoek, probably the finest dune landscape in Belgium, in which live ermine, martens, owls and rabbits, and the central part of which is reminiscent of the Sahara. The nature reserve is crossed by six signposted paths.
Dunes of Oosthoek
To the southeast of De Panne stretch the 61ha/150 acres of dunes of Oosthoek, which are adjoined by the wooded area of Calmeynbos, planted in 1903. In this area there are well signposted walks to be enjoyed.
Only 3km/2miles south of De Panne on the French frontier near Adinkerke lies the "Melipark" amusement park. Here is a fairy tale garden, animal enclosures and, as the principal attraction, a huge waterway, 520m/570yds long, which passes through an imitation medieval knights' castle.