Petit-em tells about her coast
The Belgian Coast / A family trip to Nieuwpoort
Blogging for some ten years now, I finally launched Petit-em, my latest blog, in 2013, just before my daughter was born. I wanted to turn this online space into a source of inspiration for creative families. Thus, I talk about interior design, DIY, kids-friendly trips and places in Brussels and further afield. Living in Brussels, we, as a family, love nothing better than escaping to the Belgian Coast for a weekend away. So nearby, yet so relaxing!
When you live in Brussels, it’s easy enough to say midweek “how about a trip to the seaside this weekend?” - no major organising involved, under two hours by car, inhaling the sea air and walking in the sand (not always warm, admittedly). When the weather turns fine, we often spend a weekend or two at the Belgian Coast, before the annual holiday, to give us a foretaste of a well-deserved break. This year, after having visited Saint-Idesbald in May, we had the opportunity to explore Nieuwpoort in June. Even the major storm that made landfall in Belgium on the eve of our departure wasn’t going to deter us. What we discovered was a bustling and welcoming resort, with no shortage of things to do for all tastes.
On a discovery tour of Nieuwpoort
Situated between Oostende and Koksijde, Nieuwpoort is easy enough to get to from Brussels. Like in Oostende, we really loved the bustle of the city. Albert I laan, which runs parallel to the promenade is a shopping street with one trendy clothes shop after another and small coffee shops that beckon you to call in for a rest. At the other side of the small town centre, with its De IJzermonding nature reserve and iconic lighthouse, you’ll find yourself transported to a completely different world. We didn’t have the time to explore the whole nature reserve (the weather left a lot to be desired) but the small ferry that took us across the Yser to drop us off there and our walk through the dunes gave us a wonderful glimpse and above all an urge to explore it properly the next time round.
Near the harbour there is also loads to see! The marina is one of the largest ones in Europe and the adjacent centre is a hive of activity. As our weekend coincided with the fish festival, we got to attend a super concert and to enjoy some entertainment before we went for a bite to eat.
Naturally, there was no way we were going to pass up a go-cart ride in spite of the debris the storm of the night before had left and the gusts of wind on the promenade! We were rather impressed by the driving talent of our girl racer, despite the wind! As the day was drawing to a close and the wind had finally calmed down, we saw the most amazing sunset while savouring a gorgeous ice cream, magical! We are really beginning to enjoy our evenings with the little one, she doesn’t tire as easily anymore, and it’s wonderful to have her share these precious moments in the great outdoors, to make the most of the last sunrays, even if it’s late.
History, culture and architecture
Nieuwpoort abounds with activities, monuments and architectural nuggets; we adored the diversity of this city! To brush up on our history, we visited the Albert I monument, which was erected in memory of the late king and his role in the Battle of the Yser during World War I. The impressive rotunda also houses a museum that takes you through that part of history. To nurture your cultural inner, I can highly recommend the installations of the Beaufort project. We came across the gilded sculpture of the man straddling a tortoise by Jan Fabre, which is situated quite close to the seafront.
Incidentally, the tourist office published a great little map to introduce children to these works of art which I would advise you to get, it’s free!
Fans of architecture, you too will be in your element here. On the seafront, I spotted a few gems that stopped me in my tracks.
Places to stay and eat
We discovered a few nuggets during our short stay which I am only too delighted to share with you!
We stayed at the very nice Hotel Cosmopolite, ideally situated at a stone’s throw of the seafront, between nature (nature reserve) and the shopping district. We got a great welcome and the room was lovely. For the first time ever, we were given a family suite and our daughter had a little room all to herself, a luxury for all concerned! For the record: as we arrived late on Saturday evening we had a quick bite to eat in the hotel’s brasserie. It was super, there was a little play corner for children and the food was excellent!
Albert I laan 141
We had the pleasure of being invited to a fabulous restaurant I can highly recommend to any discerning gourmet. Restaurant La Muse, located in a quiet street near the harbour, was perfect in every way. A friendly welcome, a refined and contemporary decor, dishes as beautiful as they were delicious…. The fish, seafood and seasonal produce were masterfully cooked and presented. I have fond memories of my starter based on asparagus and shrimps, a delight! Our culinary experience was a treat from start to finish!
Fancy an ice cream?
Check out ice cream parlour Paulina on the seafront. It’s open until 22:00 so that you can savour your ice cream while watching the sun go down!
A little retail therapy?
As per usual, I took a particular interest in children’s fashion, it comes with the job you see, and caught myself drooling over the collections at Fred + Ginger (number 269) and Filou & Friends (number 255) on Albert I laan, two brands I really love. Boutique Basile (Franslaan, 20/22), which stocks beautiful clothing brands like The Animal Observatory, Bobo Choses and other trendy brands, provided us with even more eye candy.
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