Dunkirk’s strategic location has aroused envy throughout history and the city has often been besieged. In fact, the military engineer Vauban was asked to protect certain towns, and fortifications still exist in excellent condition in Gravelines and Bergues. But the area is especially known for the heroic episodes of the second world war which etched the city’s name for ever in the history books. Numerous vestiges remain from the Battle of Dunkirk and Operation Dynamo, which many English and American visitors come to see. Nearly 50 wrecked boats lie on the sea bed off Dunkirk, most of them identified as having sunk in May 1940. Even if you don’t go in for diving, you can see some of them at low tide.