Blankenberge used to be one of the most fashionable beach towns in Europe. But that was a long time ago. It was hit by a construction frenzy in the 1960s that destroyed much of the old charm.
But this town has been making a serious comeback. You might be surprised by the hip beach bars and cool B&Bs that have popped up recently. It also has some beautiful Art Nouveau houses hidden in its quiet streets.
A few blocks from the beach, the Belle Epoque Museum occupies a row of three houses built in 1894 in the flamboyant style of the late 19th century. The houses are filled with relics from the time when Blankenberge was the most elegant resort on the North Sea.
Visitors can enter a living room furnished in period style, listen to old music hall songs on headphones and step out onto an astonishing roof terrace with a replica Gaudi bench made using ceramic tiles salvaged from demolished seaside houses.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.