Gravelines (Grevelingen) lies on the Opal Coast, at the mouth of the river Aa.
The town consists of 4 hamlets:
The historic town is still completely walled and surrounded by waterways, which are connected to the sea via a channel (chenal). Back in the Middle Ages the town was part of a series of Flemish port cities (together with o.a. Nieuwpoort, Damme, Dunkirk). The city owes its current star-shaped form to Vauban, who fortified the city in the 17th century (other examples are Sluis and Willemstad in the Netherlands).
The walk on the city walls is definitely recommended. From the top of the ramparts you have the best views both on the city center and on the surroundings.
Petit Fort Philippe is located on the north side of the canal. The center is near the beach. The pier along the canal goes a kilometer far into the sea: a nice and easy walk. There are several restaurants along the canal. The lighthouse (with 116 steps) can be visited during the season.
From the pier, you also get a nice view on the six nuclear power plants of 910 megawatts, the only blemish on this nice area.
During our last visit to Gravelines we discovered a small town some 7 kilometers further inland: Bourbourg . The small town has an impressive church, the église St Jean Baptiste . The church dates from the twelfth century. In the Second World War the church was badly damaged. An airplane crashed right next to the gothic choir. The choir burned out completely. During the reconstruction, the choir was initially separated from the rest of the church. Only at the end of the last century, the restoration of the choir was started. Under the direction of the English architect Anthony Caro, the choir was converted into an exhibition space in which about 15 sculptures are set up. Quite impressive and worth a visit (which is free of charge).