When you ask tourists to name Belgian cities, the ones that immediately come up are Brussel and Bruges (dubbed as the Venice of the North). However, 20km from Bruges is a little seaside town called Knokke.
I’ve heard people compare Knokke to St-Tropez, but I think this is rather exaggerated. The Belgian resort is more family-oriented and life goes at a more relaxed pace, even during at its most frequented. It lies adjacent to the Dutch border. The main language is Flemish/Dutch, but a lot of people speak French and English as well. Judging from the car plates, most people arriving in Knokke come from France, Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg and the UK.
ECOLOGY: As pretty and charming as it is, Knokke is also full of contradictions. The number of people biking is as high as the number of people using their cars. The shop windows, such as the O’Neill store promotes its ‘collect + recycle’ line which is made from recycled beach plastic. Yet, when you go to the beach, the scene is less than charming. The picture below captures the sight you’ll be welcomed with every evening. Despite the presence of garbage bins at every corner, the ‘easy-as-pie’ habit of picking up your trash before you leave, is a rare occurrence. If you’d like to read more about ocean preservation, our Sun & Sea Issue covers the topic (here).
FOOD: Knokke is not the most vegan-friendly (nor vegetarian-friendly) place. Mussels, french fries cooked in beef fat, charcuterie, and shrimp croquettes are highly popular. If you have certain food allergies or are following a specific diet, the best option would be to rent a place with a kitchen to cook for yourself, because most restaurants have very limited options, but it’s not all doom and gloom. There are several supermarkets that have a sufficient organic section where you can go grocery shopping and new food places are emerging. While I was there, I found a newly-opened takeaway spot, called Fonteyne the Kitchen.
Fonteyne is a Belgian chain offering various freshly-made salads and healthy meals. There are several vegan options available. The real standouts were the seaweed salad, the Busaba salad with caramelized onions and the Thai salad were truly delicious. I also had watermelon water for the first time, a really refreshing drink during the heatwave.
I might be rambling about keeping it ‘healthy’ during the holiday, but I had my fair share of sweet indulgences (that’s what we call balance, isn’t it?). Knokke has a wonderful selection of pastry shops and ice cream parlors. Le Glacier de la Poste offers excellent ‘artisanal’ ice creams and sorbets, a wide range of flavors from classic ones to funkier ones (such as Amaretto Yogurt, Biscotto Croc, Kinder Bueno or Cookies Nougat). I also enjoyed some delicious cocktails at the Knokke Strand beach bar, my favorite was the virgin Mojito. La crème de la crème though was visiting the Pierre Marcolini chocolate store. Pierre Marcolini’s drool-inducing Belgian chocolate is heavenly good, but since it was scorching hot I passed the chocolate and opted for macaroons instead. They were delicious and more flavorful than the macaroons from Ladurée. I wish I could go back in time just to grab another box.
SHOPPING: When it comes to organic shopping, there’s a small grocery store Quattro offering food, drinks; beauty products and supplements. The Dutch beauty drugstore chain Da Drogist stocks the French green makeup line Boho Cosmetics. There’s also a Holland & Barrett store with a large selection of organic teas, snacks and beauty products. Less than 4 years ago, there was only the Quattro store for organic goodies. So there’s a noticeable improvement in that field.
Have you heard of Knokke? Any travel destinations you’d like to share with us?
In celebration of Organic September (#organicseptember), we have the pleasure to be part of this incredible competition where you can win a scholarship to become an organic skincare entrepreneur! (here). Also, we’d love to hear what ‘certified organic’ means to you by taking part in our little survey (here).