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Calais France Northern France Calais

Calais France French Holidays

Calais, a busy port, is only 40km from Dover and welcomes 9 million British travellers and 1 million day trippers every year. It was under English control until 1558 and has suffered quite a lot of damage because of its strategic position on the coast.


Visitors usually arrive in Calais by ferry from Dover. From the port there is a free (but infrequent) bus service into town which stops at the place d'Armes and Calais ville train station. Calais has two train stations: Calais ville and Calais Fréthun (for TGV and Eurostar). You can get the bus to Calais Fréthun or catch a train to Boulogne that stops there on the way.

The tourist office at 12 boulevard Clemenceau (03 21 96 62 40) offers a free accommodation booking service for hotels and also has a list of gîtes in the region too. A couple of hotels worth a mention are the Meurice, 5 rue Edmond Roche (03 21 34 57 03), a three star hotel behind the Musée des Beaux Arts that costs from €70 €90 for a room, and the Richelieu, 17 rue Richelieu (03 21 34 61 60) that is €40 €50 for a room.

The town of Calais has two sections: Calais Nord is the renovated and drab old town with the place d'Armes and rue Royale, Calais Sud's main attraction is the boulevard Jacquard shopping street.

The Musée des Beaux Arts et de la Dentelle displays 16th to 20th century art, including Picasso and Dubuffet, and a history of lace making. It costs + €5 and is closed on Wednesday. Rodin's sculpture the Burghers of Calais is in front of the Hotel de Ville, a Flemish style building that was finished in 1926. There is also the Musée de la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale, which is excellent value at + €5.

Markets in the place d'Armes (Wed/Sat) and on boulevard Lafayette (Thurs/Sat) are worth a look, or if you prefer to shop in huge supermarkets, you can't go far wrong with the Cité Europe just off the A16 (or bus #7), a gigantic conglomeration of shops open Mon Thurs Sat 10am 8pm, and 10am 9pm on Friday.

As for going out in Calais, there are plenty of Irish themed pubs and fairly mediocre places to eat. Le Troubadour on the quai du Rhin is good for pool and rock music. If you are looking for something more classy try the George V, 36 rue Royale (03 21 97 68 00), a traditional brasserie with white tablecloths and good food (€30 €50). Le Channel, 3 boulevard de la Résistance (03 21 34 42 30) has menus from €20 €65.

From Calais you can drive along the old D940 coast road to Boulogne and see the cliffs and windswept beaches of the Cote d'Opale.