Waterways # 5: Port of Dunkerque, France

  • 01_Dunkerque_Port_Vracs_liquidesThird largest port in France
  • The leading European energy centre

Strategically placed close to the city of Lille, at the centre of the Paris-London-Brussels triangle, the Port of Dunkerque is in the heart of an important European market, with all its terminals providing excellent road, barges and railway network connections.

Besides, the Port of Dunkirk offers excellent accessibility to shipping and large land reserves and its facilities mean it can handle all kinds of cargoes and the largest ships.

The port extends along a frontage of 17 km and has two entries for shipping : the older, to the east, which is restricted to ships with draughts of 14,2 metres (Eastern Port), and the other to the west, which is more recent and can accommodate ships with draughts of up to 22 metres (Western Port).

Classified as the 7th port of the North Europe Range which extends from Le Havre to Hamburg, it is also France’s leading port for ore and coal imports; France’s leading port for containerised fruit imports; France’s leading port for copperimports; and France’s second-ranking port for trade with Great Britain.

The history of the port of Dunkirk is one of contrasts, marked down the centuries by rivalries with the fleets and ports of Belgium, Holland and England, and by an ambiguous attitude on the part of the government which sometimes favoured Antwerp to the detriment of Dunkirk, causing a decline in industrial activity, and at other times gave strong support to its development, leading to a spectacular growth in traffic and industrial activity.

The port started out as a centre of herring fishing under the Counts of Flanders in the 11th century. But it was only after 1350, as a result of contacts with Holland and England, that it began to engage in commercial traffic; as noted by a Dunkirk historian,“At the time Dunkirk was just the small port between Gravelines and Nieuport, and merchant ships did not know the way to it”.

Source | Port of Dunkerque

Simone Ribeiro
Hi! I'm Simone, a citizen of Britain, where I live for over a decade, and of Brazil, where I was born. Midlands Traveller is where I combine my passion for travelling, business and an Eco-friendly lifestyle.

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