Yannick Merckx, from Hetisdemerckx, recounts:
Exploring charming Middelkerke
Yannick Merckx is a 23-year-old YouTuber from Antwerp, who loves sharing his creative stories via funny and energetic videos. He’s a cheerful chap who manages to get the best out of everyone, hence his determination to make everyone smile.
Travelling is a passion Yannick shares with his girlfriend Lesley. It is something that grew over time. He originally started his YouTube career producing funny and entertaining videos of his student days. And that entertaining aspect and positive vibe still comes through in the videos he posts today. Via his videos, he tries to take people along on his travels and to get them to join him on his many adventures.
Lesley Van Loon is a 23-year-old female blogger from Antwerp who is always at the ready to embark on new adventures and discover new places. She became part of the 'Het Is De Merckx' team in 2016, when the team switched to producing travel videos. Exploring the world and discovering new cultures is a passion Lesley & Yannick share.
While she regularly features in the entertaining videos, the blog, which complements the videos and contains buckets of information, is her baby. Her greatest passion is photography which she uses to try to inspire people to push back the boundaries.
Middelkerke (Westende) is a small and charming seaside resort situated between the well-known Oostende and the luxurious Nieuwpoort. Though right in the centre of our coastline, this adorable town is often forgotten when people talk about the Belgian Coast. Aside from the new casino, the Belgian cartoon characters and the Dronkenput, this seaside resort has so much more in store! We spent a weekend in Middelkerke and are happy to share our favourite places.
Where to stay? For peace, quiet and unadulterated luxury check into Bed & Breakfast ‘Het Zilte Zand’
Make your acquaintances with Marina and Mike. This charming couple from Antwerp are the proud owners of luxury Bed & Breakfast ‘Het Zilte Zand’****. They took over this cottage villa that dates from 1926 a year and a half ago and have been lovingly tending to their guests ever since. They make sure you feel at home straightaway. The convivial atmosphere, charming decor and excellent location are only some of the aspects that made us fall in love with the place from the word go. ‘Het Zilte Zand’ is located at 300 metres from the beach in a quiet street and is surrounded by fields. The perfect combination to find your inner peace again!
Did you know that the villa has even made it onto the “Protected Heritage” list? Just like ‘Duinenlaan’, the street where ‘Het Zilte Zand’ is located!
Each room tells its own rustic story
Bed & Breakfast ‘Het Zilte Zand’ numbers 5 characteristic rooms, among which 1 suite. Each room has its own identity and associated charm. The new orangery is the perfect spot to enjoy an extensive luxury breakfast. Yes, you heard correctly, ‘luxury breakfast’. Expect various types of bread, a glass of bubbles to start with, sumptuous yoghurt with granola, a sweet croissant and plenty more! From the orangery and the terrace you have a stunning view (stretching some 4 km) of the vast polders!
Extras: the owners of the B&B really left nothing to chance. They even have electric bikes their guests can use free of charge to explore the surrounding area. Make sure to test the Mobibike, a “next level” electric bike from Germany that is guaranteed to make heads turn!
The motto of ‘Het Zilte Zand’ is “You arrive as guest and return as a friend” is one we can wholeheartedly confirm.
Het Zilte Zand
8434 Westende (Gratis parkeren mogelijk)
Fine-dining at Restaurant Vlass
Restaurant Vlass, known as ‘De Vlasschaert’ was completely renovated 3 years ago. This prestigious restaurant is run by Stefaan Lauwereins, Tineke Derycke and their children. Talk about a culinary family! Here, they only work with fresh regional produce they source from the farmers in the area, thereby doing their bit for the environment and for the local economy. As they are dependent on the qualitative products available on the day, the menu may change in line with what the market has to offer. Quality takes precedence over quantity!
What makes Restaurant Vlass so special and unique? The cosy and intimate atmosphere raises your culinary experience to a higher level. They serve fish, meat and game dishes, all finished with the utmost elegance. Each dish is a ‘little work of art’ that melts in your mouth!
Restaurant Vlass also prides itself on its high-quality wines that pair beautifully with the food. Sommelier and son Kenzo looks after that. He is a specialist in the world of wines and has been the driving force behind the recent renovations at Vlass. We were immediately won over by his passion for wines! The detailed explanation of the background and subtleties of the wines makes that you can pin-point the tastes and bouquet straightaway.
Anyone looking for a nice and original location for a business lunch will be well looked after at Vlass. They have a separate room with a large table that seats 14 people.
Mind: book ahead (about 2 weeks in advance) especially if you want to get a table during the weekend!
Paddle boarding at Beachclub De Kwinte
Beachclub De Kwinte nestles between the dunes of Westende and has an area that is specifically reserved for water sports. Many wavesurfers, windsurfers and kiters consider this the hotspot of Westende. If you’re not that keen on water sports you can always have a bite to eat or something to drink on the beach bar’s cosy terrace. A refreshing cocktail with some nibbles or an evening meal under the sunset? Now, there’s an offer we couldn’t possibly refuse!
Fancy trying your hand at wavesurfing, paddle boarding or prefer to stick to kayaking? We decided to up our ‘paddle-boarding skills’! The club supplies all the equipment, explains what to do so and lets you off to try it out for yourself. A fun and sporty experience for young and old with plenty of water fun into the bargain!
During the holiday periods, they organise various camps where you can try your hand at a number of water sports, great crack guaranteed!
Cruising by electric bike
West-Vlaanderen’s vast cycle network has quite a few nodes that take you along the various sights and unique spots in the wider Middelkerke-Westende area. From ‘Het Zilte Zand’, you can go on a 32 km cycle that takes you through a. o. Lombardsijde, Mannekensvere and Middelkerke. Best to get those legs in good nick!
A bit of history in Raversyde
Protected dune reserve Raversyde is situated about 10 kilometres from B&B ‘Het Zilte Zand’. Perfect for walkers and cyclists who enjoy a little history while away for the weekend! The domain consists of 3 parts: open-air museum Atlantikwall, ANNO 1465 and the nature reserve.
With an area of 50 hectares, nature park Raversyde is ideal for walking and cycling. Here you can take in the varied landscape as it changes with the seasons: from the summery hayfields to the woods with their stunning autumn colours.
Fascinated by the 2 World Wars? Atlantikwall is a unique historic site and war museum that gives you an insight into this period of history. The 60 bunkers, various observation posts and casemates, connected by 2 km of open or underground trenches, have been fairly well preserved because Prince Charles made it his business to ensure that the complex would not be lost.
We rounded off our stop at Raversyde with a visit to ANNO 1465, an archaeological collection of remains of a 500-year-old medieval fishermen's village consisting of 3 cottages and a bakery that was reconstructed with the bricks found on the site. The audio guide completely immerses you in the way of life of the 15th century fishing families in the village of Walraversijde.
How to get around Middelkerke?
Guests of B&B ‘Het Zilte Zand’ can avail of the (electric) bikes or the golf cart (on request) free of charge. Clearly cycling and walking are the sportiest options and the various hiking and cycling trails are a great way to explore the region.
The coastal tram covers the entire coastline, from De Panne to Knokke
Needless to say, the coastal tram also runs through the coastal resort of Middelkerke/Westende. It’s a marvellous service if you don’t want to waste time getting from one end (Ostend) to the other (Nieuwpoort).
CIRC scooter-sharing system, a cool and cheap mode of transport
As you might have guessed, the ‘scooter craze’ has also hit the Belgian Coast. Via the CIRC app you can find a scooter in your vicinity. There are scooter docking stations in Westende, Leffinge, Slijpe, Mannekensvere, Schore, Lombardsijde, Oostende, Bredene, De Haan and Sint-Pieters-Kapelle.
(Payable) parking in Middelkerke (Westende)
Like in every seaside resorts along the Belgian Coast, you need to pay for parking (until 19:00) if you want to park your car on the public road in Middelkerke (Westende).
Various restrictions apply:
- Short-term parking - pink zone: €1/hour - max. 2 hours from 09:00 to 19:00
- Short-term parking - marked area: 30 min. with parking disk
- Annual fee - red zone: Kerkstraat and Paul de Smet de Naeyerstraat
- Daytime parking - orange zone: €1/hour - €5/day from 09:00 u to 19.00 u
The weather in Middelkerke
Middelkerke is especially popular during the summer months and July and August are considered high season as the Belgian schools are closed for the summer then. During these months, temperatures range between 18 °C and 25 °C. But as there is no accounting for the Belgian weather, we would advise you to check the weather forecast before you leave if you’re only coming up for the day! You can find the weather forecast for Middelkerke in real time here!