'Small but beautiful' is a catchphrase that certainly applies to the small beach resort of De Haan. Thanks to careful architectural planning, De Haan does not suffer from the same 'apartment-blocks'- disease that sometimes disfigures other Belgian coastal cities. A visit to De Haan is like a return to the 'Belle Epoque' of the turn of the century. The name DE HAAN means literally 'The Rooster'. According to a legend the place got this name because a rooster rescued a group of stranded fishermen. His crowing guided them to this safer place.
The reality, however, is more prosaic. De Haan was opened for tourism on the 22nd of July 1888 when the 'Hotel du Coq' was opened. Soon afterwards the Belgian state gave a concession of 49ha for 90 years to two architects so that they could construct a new, carefully planned beach city.
The concession was sold and in 1896 a new company the 'Societè Anonyme de Coq-sur-Mer' started to construct new villas in cottage style with gardens around them.
Most of these villas have been preserved and this gave De Haan its 'Belle Epoque' image, which has been preserved until today. Also, from the beginning strict rules determined the implantation of green areas, woods and shrubbery.
Even today De Haan boasts a total of 150 ha of woods. The style of the houses in De Haan is very reminiscent of the English country style as well as of the cottage styles of Normandy in France. Here and there influences of the Art Deco style are visible. One of the highlights is the little tram station of the city (featured above).
The territory of De Haan now comprises the territory of four different communities (De Haan itself, Wenduine, Klemskerke, Vlissegem, and Vosseslag). The coastline and beach promenade is about 2 Km long.