DFDS Seaways ferries travel between France and Dover, England with a brand new, state-of-the-art fleet. Crossing time between Dover and Dunkerque is just 1 hour 45 mins, with up to 24 crossing a day.
Dunkerque is the third largest harbour in France, after Le Havre and Marseille. It is also an industrial city, heavily dependent on the steel, food processing, oil refining, ship building and chemical industries.
The area was much disputed between Spain, England, the Netherlands and France, until it became definitively French when Charles II of England sold it to France for 40 000 pounds on 17 October 1662. During the reign of Louis XIV, a large number of pirates had their base at Dunkerque; Jean Bart was the most famous, known for attacking Dutch ships.
In World War II, heavy fighting took place around Dunkerque during the German invasion in 1940, but a lull in the action unexpectedly allowed a large number of French and British soldiers to escape to England. Over 300,000 men were evacuated amidst constant bombing (the miracle of Dunkerque, as Winston Churchill called it).The British evacuation of Dunkerque was codenamed Operation Dynamo. During the war, Dunkerque was largely destroyed by bombing.
On 14 December 2002, the Norwegian auto carrier Tricolor collided with the Bahamian-registered Kariba and sank off Dunkerque harbor, causing a hazard to navigation in the English Channel. The following night, a German vessel, the Nicola, hit the wreck and had to be towed free. On 1 January 2003 the Turkish-registered fuel carrier Vicky struck the same wreck, but was freed by a rising tide.
The best place to to find out more about the port is at the Musee Portuaire Dunkerque, a museum of maritime relics telling the story of Dunkerque and the operating of the port. Miniature tall ships replicas, boats and an array of fishing equipment are all on display. Don’t forget to take a look at some of the historic ships moored outside the museum like the beautiful schooner, Duchesse Anne.