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Established at the end of the nineteenth century, DE HAAN was carefully conceived as an exclusive seaside village in a rustic Gothic Revival style known as Style Normand. The building plots were irregularly dispersed between the tram station and the sea, around a pattern of winding streets reminiscent of – and influenced by – contemporaneous English suburbs such as Liverpool's Sefton Park. The only formality was provided by a central circus around a casino (demolished in 1929). The casino apart, De Haan has survived pretty much intact, a welcome relief from the surrounding high-rise development, and, flanked by empty sand dunes, it's become a popular family resort, with an excellent beach and pleasant seafront cafés.
There are plenty of walking and cycling routes in the vicinity of De Haan. One pleasant option is the 43-kilometre Oude Dijken (Old Dykes) cycle route, which threads along several canals and passes a number of country pubs. Cycle hire is available at several outlets, including André Fietsen, on the central circus at Leopoldlaan 9 (Tel:059 23 37 89).
Cream of the crop of places to stay at is the first-rate Auberge des Rois, at Zeedijk 1 (Tel:059 23 30 18, www.beachhotel.be ; Price: 100–120), a smart, modern, medium-sized hotel overlooking the beach and adjacent to an undeveloped tract of sand dune; ask for a room with a sea view. Needless to say, it's popular – reservations are advised. A very good second choice is the three-star Grand Hotel Belle Vue, in one of the attractive Gothic Revival piles close to the tram stop at Koninklijk Plein 5 (Tel:059 23 34 39, Web: www.hotelbellevue.be ; Price: 80–100).
Café-restaurants line the seafront, and your best bet is to stroll along until you find somewhere you fancy. The bar of the Hotel des Brasseurs, just across from the tram stop, has the resort's widest and best range of beers.