Esquelbecq_le château © Stephane Fedorowsky-Association du ChâteauEsquelbecq, le château et les jardins
©Esquelbecq, le château et les jardins|Stephane Fedorowsky-Association du Château

Flemish style: follow the crow‑steps!

Look upwards when you explore the Flemish towns of French Flanders, whether roaming the narrow streets of Lille’s old town and Bailleul, or smaller villages like Cassel. You’ll see many of the houses and buildings display the region’s characteristic high gables finished in a step pattern, known as crow-stepped gables and called “sparrow steps” in French. This is only one expression of the Flemish style – a blend of originality, gentleness, the desire for simplicity, solidity, and endurance… just like the people of this region! Enjoy a uniquely Flemish experience with a trip to Esquelbecq, in the heart of French Flanders.

Northern France _ Cassel ©crtc Hauts De France Benjamin TeissedreNorthern France _ Cassel ©crtc Hauts De France Benjamin Teissedre
©Northern France, Cassel

Esquelbecq, a heritage village on the Yser river

As well as being an official Book Town, Esquelbecq is the very quintessence of Flemish style! Presiding over its Place d’Armes (public square) is the Saint Folquin hallekerque (hall church) with its trellis-like brickwork in yellow and red, flanked by coloured brick houses with sculpted facades. This town will surprise you with its artful mix of contrasts, mingling sobriety and baroque! The hallekerque has plenty more surprises in store for you!

Its diffuse light filters in exclusively through the lateral naves, so you have the impression of being under a celestial vault when you’re standing beneath the wooden ceiling decorated with golden stars.

The fact that Saint Folquin was first cousin to Charlemagne makes the place all the more prestigious!

Château d’Escquelbecq: step into a Medieval engraving

Just opposite stands the castle, the only extant example of the characteristic Flemish Renaissance-period château-and-gardens layout. It’s built on a large four-sided plan with eight crow-stepped gables.

Even if you give the building a miss, don’t deny yourself the pleasure of visiting the garden!  It’s like walking into a Medieval engraving. A cross-shaped layout separates the two sections of garden, and the architecture is symmetrical; water flows in the moat, there are topiary and hedges, carefully trained and pruned pear and apple trees, and the lush smell of the vegetable garden pervades everything.

Feel the timeless nature of this place, which is constantly drawing closer to its original spirit!

Local’s tips

Laurence ClaeysenLaurence Claeysen
Architecture buffs, visit Malo-les-Bains – Dunkirk’s seaside district

In 1858 a Dunkirk industrialist named Mr Malo bought 641 hectares of dunes for agricultural plantations. His project never took off, since sand and the salty sea air aren’t conducive to growing plants. And so the place was turned into a seaside resort (a fashion started by Empress Eugénie in Biarritz in 1854). Promenade along the dike or stroll through the streets for a look at the wildly eclectic styles of the seaside villas, mainly built in the late 19th or early 20th centuries, along with some Art Nouveau and Art Deco villas too. Look upwards so you don’t miss the houses’ quirky architectural details and decorative ceramic touches. You’ll also have a magnificent sandy beach to enjoy – a massive playground, whatever your age.

Laurence Claeysen, Dunkirk greeter and expert of the area
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Useful Info

Address

9 place Alphonse Bergerot

F-59470 ESQUELBECQ

Contact

Tel: + 33 (0)3 28 62 88 57

www.ot-hautsdeflandre.fr/en

Address

10 Place Alphonse Bergerot

F-59470 ESQUELBECQ

Contact

Tel: +33 (0)6 73 44 06 66

www.chateau-esquelbecq.com

Address

1 place du Centenaire

F-59240 DUNKERQUE

Contact

Tel: +33 (0)3 28 58 10 10

www.dunkirk-tourism.com/

Address

3 bis rue de Bergues

F-59470 ESQUELBECQ

Contact

Tel: +33 (0)6 10 59 72 48

www.esquelbook.com/en/

Address

7 Place Alphonse Bergerot

F-59470 ESQUELBECQ

Contact

Tel: +33 (0)3 28 68 01 55

www.ot-hautsdeflandre.fr/en

Address

9 Place Alphonse Bergerot

F-59470 ESQUELBECQ

Contact

Tel: +33 (0)3 28 62 88 57

www.ot-hautsdeflandre.fr