ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Malo-les-Bains, Dunkirk, France and its ornate, former Town Hall: shifting municipal identities

Updated on October 11, 2013
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Former town hall, Malo-les-Bains
Former town hall, Malo-les-Bains | Source
Former town hall, Malo-les-Bains
Former town hall, Malo-les-Bains | Source
Former town hall, Malo-les-Bains
Former town hall, Malo-les-Bains | Source

Neo-Flemish style, dating from 1899/1903

When visiting Malo-les-Bains in northern France, the visitor may come across a prominent-looking edifice which suggests itself as the local administrative centre. This must be the town hall! the observer may muse.

Well, it isn't.

It used to be the town hall (French: marie), however. Today, the term mairie-annexe has to suffice. Because in 1970 Malo-les-Bains ceased to be an independent municipality and was absorbed by the city of Dunkirk (French: Dunkerque).

So what to do with the former municipality's fine, former town hall? Well, it was still to be used for local administrative purposes, but under a different label.

Thus it was that, when I first recall passing this building in Malo-les-Bains, I remember thinking that it looks ornately upscale enough to be a town hall...and yet to its immediate environment there seemed to be the absence of life and bustle that one associates with town halls in France.

Unlike in various English-speaking countries, France's political system has traditionally revolved around people as much as around parties. Thus it is that a prominent French politician might well serve over the years in various ministries in the national government, but have his or her political base for decades as a particular town's mayor. Added to the fact the government ministers cannot be members of the National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale), a particular town hall — sometimes quite splendid in its appearance — can often take on the aura of being more or less coterminous with the career of a prominent, household name in French public life.

The substantial and ornate town hall at Malo-les-Bains would also look as if would qualify as an ideal-looking base for a nationally-aspiring leader: but alas this is not now likely to be case, because its forme function has now been subordinated to the town hall of Dunkirk (itself a striking building with a conspicuous belfry).

Executed in Neo-Flemish style in a combination of red brick and white stone, the former town hall at Malo-les-Bains was built between 1899 and 1903 (1). Careful examination of some of the photos of the building (right) will show the former municipality's arms depicted on the gables, complemented by Syrian arches; this styloe of arching is a recurring feature of the building.

A bust of the former municipality's founder Gaspard Malo, which stands in the main courtyard of the building, dates from 1966; interestingly it was erected in its present position in 1971, that is, after the incorporation of Malo-les-Bains into Dunkirk.

October 11, 2013


(1) Source:

Map location of Dunkirk
Map location of Dunkirk | Source

Also worth seeing

In Dunkirk itself, other significant structures include a belfry at the City Hall, a 15th century belfry, the Leughenaer Tower and a statue of former pirate Jean Bart.


How to get there: The nearest large international airport to Dunkirk is Belgium's Brussels Airport (Brussel-Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), where car rental is available (distance between Brussels Airport and Dunkirk: 168 kilometres). Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)