Port of Calais

About Calais, Guide and Tourist Attractions
(Calais, Pas-de-Calais, France)

Calais is a town rich in history and cultural heritage and one in which holiday makers can spend a pleasant couple of days exploring. It is an ideal gateway to a variety of charming French towns and villages.

Alternatively if you just have a few hours to spare while awaiting the departure of your ferry to Dover, there are a number of local attractions worth checking out.

What to do in Calais

The city is divided into two parts and exploring both is a good way to spend the time while you are waiting for your ferry crossing to England or before moving on to other nearby destinations. Calais-Nord, the old town, is perhaps more typically French and those looking to sample a bit of French culture should venture into its depths, where the place d'Armes and rue Royale are the dominant features. Calais-Sud is the place to go for a spot of shopping, with Lafayette and Jacquard boulevards offering some of the best retail outlets.

Tourist Attractions

There are a variety of small towns in the area that are worthy of a visit. Cassel, for example, is only a short drive away and is notable for its tranquil parks and magnificent architecture. Equally close is Le Touquet, a seaside resort with sandy beaches and good tourist amenities.

For a spot of history head to Dunkerque, the scene of significant military conflict or to St-Omer's, where the 13th century Notre Dame Cathedral takes pride of place. If you only have a short time at your disposal then consider heading for one of the town's interesting museums. At the Calais Museum of Fine Arts and Lace for example, visitors will find various fine examples of sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as an exhibition giving an insight into the history of the lacemaking industry that the town prospered so greatly from in the period following the Napoleonic wars. At the Calais Second World War Museum meanwhile, visitors will find a facility housed in a converted Nazi bunker that now contains various artefacts that give some insight into the conditions experienced during the German occupation of the area. For more on the same theme visit Le Bloquehaus, Forest of Eperlecque; the remains of a Nazi base at which the V2 rockets which were used with devastating effect against England, were assembled, fuelled, and launched. Tours, videos, photos and CD-ROMs offering a greater insight into the bunker's history are all available on site.

If sightseeing isn't your thing then head for the Park Richelieu in the old city centre where you can easily while away a few hours relaxing with a book. Alternatively, the city is home to a number of giant wholesale stores where you can buy a variety of cheap goods; alcohol and cigarettes being popular with UK visitors.

Calais Port

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