Dunkirk (Lille), France

Dunkirk is France’s third-largest port. Located on the low-lying area of French Flanders near the Belgian border. It is perhaps most famous as the site of the “Dunkirk Miracle” evacuation of nearly 400,000 troops from under the guns of the German forces during WWII in May of 1940. By order of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and fleet of over 900 ships and boats was dispatched across the English Channel and retrieved the British and French troops trapped there to safety in England. Less well-known, the free-standing Dunkirk Belfry played an important role as one pole of a scientific measurement at the end of the 18th century that resulted in the creation of the standard meter length measure. Nearby Lille, France possesses one of the most gracious city centers in Europe, the Grand Place, graced with beautiful and elaborate civic buildings and churches.