De Haan is a beach resort on the Belgian sea coast in West Flanders. Thanks to a clever real estate policy, De Haan has kept the charm of the 1930s, with a lot of white villas and no skyscrapers.
The coastal tram (de Kusttram in Dutch) is the easiest way to reach De Haan by public transport. The tram line runs from De Panne near the French border to Knokke near the Dutch border. One could take the train from Ghent or Bruges and transfer to the tram at Ostend, the railway and tram stations being next to each other. De Haan has 3 tram stops; you probably want the stop at De Haan aan Zee which has a very quaint, photogenic station building. De Lijn operates the coastal tram.
The central portion of the town is about a kilometre long and just over half as wide, so you can get around easily on foot.
A distinctive characteristic of De Haan is the fanciful architecture of many of its buildings, both commercial as well as residential. Many buildings are in the belle époque style. The buildings can be a reason in itself to visit De Haan. Most such buildings of interest are between the tram line and the beach. The commercial buildings (hotels, restaurants) are on the route from the tram station to the beach and along the beach itself. One should also look at the houses along residential streets as almost all have some degree of quaintness.
The tram station itself is much photographed. The name of the station De Haan aan Zee literally means the rooster by the sea. Between the tram tracks is a historical sign saying "don't step on the tracks" in Dutch on one side and in French on the other. The coastal tram used to be part of a much larger network of cross-country trams (known as the Vicinal in French and the Buurttram in Dutch) of which very little remains in operation today.
There is a small park at the end of the street Normandiëlaan which contains the life-size statue of Albert Einstein sitting on a park bench. Albert Einstein lived in the villa "Savoyarde" for six months in 1933 after leaving Germany.
- Strand, Zeedijk 19, ☎ +32 59 233425. A brasserie on the beach. A great place to drink a trappist beer or eat a shrimp croquette. €15-25.
- Rabelais, Van Eycklaan 2 (centre, near tramway line), ☎ +32 59 433399. We-Su. Imaginative and tasty cooking, cosy interior, efficient service. €100.
- Romantik Manoir Carpe Diem, Prins Karellaan 12, ☎ +32 59 233220, fax: +32 59 233 396, e-mail: email@example.com. A charming little four star hotel in the Concessie (the white villas part of De Haan), near the beach and the natural "dune" reserve and not far from the village. €150-250.