Since I was little, I have been going to the Belgian coast at least once a year. De Panne, Ostend, Blankenberge, Knokke,… I have been around all the stations a bit, and yet, I believe that until now I had missed the most beautiful of all: De Haan, or Le Coq en French. One thing is certain: those who say that the Belgian coast is not beautiful may not know Le Coq-sur-Mer! This astonishing seaside resort has kept its charm of yesteryear, with a Bel Epoque style which can also recall certain seaside resorts in the North of France.
What to see, what to do, where to sleep, where to eat in De Haan… In this article, I will share with you my good addresses to (re) discover De Haan / Le Coq, the most beautiful seaside resort on the Belgian coast.
LA CONCESSION, THE BELLE EPOQUE DISTRICT OF DE HAAN
What makes De Haan so charming is its historic residential area, called the Concession. There are many architect-designed houses in the Anglo-Norman style. To discover them, the best is to walk around aimlessly, since the center of De Haan is quite compact and is very easy to explore on foot. It is simply splendid!
You will discover there in particular the majestic city hall of De Haan (Leopoldlaan 24), which was once the first luxury hotel with running hot water in the city, the beautiful villas of Vaerwyck on the Rembrandtlaan, the splendid former Art Deco Astoria hotel ( which has just reopened!) or the pretty De Haan tram station , which has even retained its original signs.
You should also not have too much trouble to come across the statue of one of the most famous inhabitants of the Rooster… Albert Einstein , who lived there in 1933! On Normandiëlaan, you can take a seat next to him on a bench. It is also possible to glimpse the house where he lived, the Villa Savoyarde at 5 Shakespearelaan (its current owners have a lot of humor since we can currently see a picture of Einstein wearing a mask on one of the windows. !).
Good to know: the De Haan tourist office offers two chargeable thematic itineraries to learn more about the history of the district
DE HAAN BEACH SIDE
The sea wall at De Haan is just as astonishing since there are no tall apartment buildings that characterize most of the other Belgian seaside resorts. The dike opens onto a long and large beach bordered on either side of the resort by large dunes. For water sports enthusiasts, you will also find the Windham, the Coq nautical club. And with a little luck, in the evening, you will be able to attend a splendid sunset …
WHERE TO EAT IN DE HAAN?
We stayed in De Haan at the very beginning of the deconfinement and unfortunately a lot of restaurants were still closed. Despite everything, we managed to find two excellent restaurant addresses!
We start with the Casanova restaurant, a gourmet restaurant with excellent value for money on the sea wall, facing the beach. This one has a well-deserved Bib gourmand in the Michelin Guide, thanks to its excellent 3-course menu at 39 €, which I recommend. The menu obviously gives pride of place to fish, but there is still the choice between meat or fish for the main course.
BISTRO VILLA JULIA
In the heart of the Concession district, we found another little nugget located in a beautiful Belle Epoque villa (and with a large terrace), the Bistro Villa Julia. You can enjoy fresh, seasonal cuisine. It’s a bit expensive (especially since there is no menu possible, just a la carte), but very good and plentiful. I recommend in particular their delicious omelets!
WHERE TO SLEEP IN DE HAAN?
Who says well-preserved seaside resort says tourist infrastructures on a human scale – well, except for the large Center Parcs on the outskirts of the resort, yet also well integrated into the landscape. But if you want to stay in the most beautiful part of De Haan, the famous Concession, it is towards one of its small charming hotels and bed & breakfasts that you will have to turn. We stayed at the Coq in two wonderful hotels with swimming pools, both members of Romantik Hotels. I recommend you both with your eyes closed!
ROMANTIK HOTEL HET ZONNEHUIS
I fell in love with this charming Bed & Breakfast, whose English decoration takes us directly to the other side of the Channel! The architect-designed house, in Anglo-Norman style, has a beautiful swimming pool and a few comfortable rooms. If the place already tells you something, it’s that its owners, Jan and Bertrand, participated in the program “Bienvenue chez Nous” on TF1 as well as in the program “Met Vier in Bed” on VTM.
ROMANTIK HOTEL MANOIR CARPE DIEM
I also loved my stay at Manoir Carpe Diem, a splendid 4-star boutique hotel located in a quiet street in De Haan, on a dune. This old country house has 16 rooms, all decorated differently, a beautiful heated swimming pool, and a very generous breakfast! The perfect place to disconnect.