The Port of Dunkerque (known as Dunkirk by the English) is in the French department of Nord Pas-de-Calais, and situated just to the north east of the Dover Straits. It is the third largest port in France after Le Havre and Marseille and the second French port for traffic with Great Britain. In 2003, some 6,700 ships called at Dunkirk, mainly freight. The port of Dunkirk has some 8.5 miles of quay and can handle all sizes of ship, from the smallest to giant tankers and container vessels. It also has four dry docks and two floating docks for repairs plus numerous storehouses for grain, fruit, refrigerated and other products. Major imports into the port include coal, phosphates, fuel oil and minerals, whilst exports include cement, sugar and chemical products. Container traffic continues to grow and two new seaside berths in the 600m quay extension will be able to berth some of the world's largest container ships. The docks are connected to the all-important points in Belgium and Northern France by a complex system of canals and railways.
For Car drivers, the Port of Dunkirk is good alternative to Calais port being just 10 km from the Belgian border. The Dover to Dunkirk ferry service was launched in May 2000 and is run by Norfolk Line ferries and with three of the most modern vessels on the Channel, offers up to 10 sailings daily from Dover.
Dunkirk History. Dunkirk was established in the 8th century as a small and simple fishing harbour. Dunkirk and surrounds were much disputed between Spain, England, the Netherlands and France, until it became definitively French when Charles II of England sold it to France for 40000 pounds on 17 October 1662. During the reign of Louis XIV, a large number of pirates had their base at Dunkirk. In World War II, heavy fighting took place around Dunkirk during the German invasion in 1940, but a lull in the action allowed over 300,000 French and British soldiers to be evacuated to England amidst constant bombing (the miracle of Dunkirk, as Churchill called it). The British evacuation of Dunkirk was codenamed Operation Dynamo.
Dunkirk Shopping. Little remains of the old town following World War II. However Dunkirk nowadays offers a great selection of shops from modern supermarkets to colourful weekly markets. Shoppers can choose from a wide variety of local crafts, including crystal, pottery and lace. First-rate French wines and foods are offered at the shopping centres and specialised shops. When you get tired of the shopping, Dunkirk and nearby areas have a great selection of bars and restaurants offering French and international cuisine.
Dunkirk Access by car: From A25 Lille: Join the A16, direction Calais. From A16 Dunkerque/Belgium: Take exit 24. Follow signs Port Rapide/Car Ferry . From St. Omer: The D600 crosses the A16 direct to the Terminal. From Dunkerque Centre: Follow signs for Calais either A16 to exit 24 or on RN1 follow signs to Loon Plage/Car Ferry