European Beach Retreats

January 29, 2016

22 comments

For many people, especially in Britain, the defining image of a holiday is of a seaside getaway. Whether it’s pearly-white sand and crystal clear waters somewhere tropical, or with rubber rings and ice cream somewhere more family-friendly, the British love affair with the beach is one of our most enduring tourism traits.

Back in the bad old days, families would head to the nearest seaside resort for their holidays, but these days it’s so quick, convenient and cheap to head abroad and enjoy a break on a beautiful, warm, spacious European beach.

France is home to some of Europe’s most famous beaches, the southern coastline in particular needs no introduction, however the country’s northern and western coastlines also contain some gorgeous beaches. Dieppe’s beach resorts are known as the northern playground for Parisians, after it became the country’s first seaside holiday destination in the early 19th century. Dieppe’s coastline was also part of the Normandy landings, although not as large a part as other beaches in the region.

Also in Normandy is La Hague, a small resort on the tip of the Contentin peninsula, surrounded by green and picturesque scenery, and Etretat, which was the home of many illustrious artists.

Of all of the beaches in France, the area that has been most enduringly popular with British tourists is Le Touquet. This beach town, which celebrated its centenary in 2012, was known as the preferred holiday destination of Winston Churchill, Noel Coward, HG Wells and Edward and Mrs Simpson, among others. At times it was said there were more British MPs in Le Touquet than in the House of Commons!

Le Touquet is a classic Anglo-French seaside resort, with British-style pubs nestled in between chic and elegant restaurants, such as the Michelin-starred Westminster. It also, however, has spectacular sporting facilities, making it the ideal place for an active and outdoorsy break, whether you’re into cycling, riding, tennis, golf or just about anything else.

France isn’t the only country in western Europe with beaches worth visiting, and while Belgium may not be the country which springs to mind when you imagine your seaside holiday, its Ostend beach is a popular destination for many European tourists. With long, sweeping, golden sands, there’s plenty of space for families to enjoy themselves, or to chill out in a sun lounger!

Holland also has popular beach resorts such as IJmuiden, with its famous dunes and Scheveningen, the playground of the rich and famous residents of Den Haag. If you’re looking for an active seaside break then IJmuiden is perfect for you, for a more elegant and relaxing break, try Scheveningen, either way, you’re sure to find something for you.

22 comments on “European Beach Retreats”

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March 05, 2020 01:12

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March 05, 2020 03:56

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July 14, 2020 14:35

Great list, thank you! I haven't been to any of these yet, so lots of exploring still to do. I love the idea of riding horses along the beach. I would like to visit the Normandy beaches too- such an important part of the war and see the concrete bunker. Thanks again.

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