Every Belgian has a favourite beach town. Some like Ostend for its urban buzz. Others go for Knokke for its chic art galleries and restaurants. But De Haan has an authentic charm that is hard to beat.
Le Coq (as it was originally called) was built in the dunes in 1889 by the German urban planner Hermann-Josef Stübben.
He shaped the resort with winding lanes, quaint white villas in English country house style and large gardens. The houses have romantic names like Little Red Riding Hood and look like drawings in a German fairy story.
While other resorts on the Belgian coast have become overdeveloped, De Haan has hardly changed.
The strict planning laws laid down at the time have prevented the construction of modern apartment buildings, and you still find small family-run hotels, unique B&Bs and friendly restaurants.
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.