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For other places with the same name, see Calais (disambiguation).

Calais (Dutch: Kales) is a city in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of France. It is the closest point on the French mainland to England; Dover lies across the English Channel (La Manche) just 32 km away. The town has a major cross-Channel ferry port, and the French entrance to the Channel Tunnel is nearby.


The seafront in Calais

Over 10 million people visit Calais every year. Many of these visitors are British day-trippers arriving by ferry or on Channel Tunnel shuttle trains: one reason being due to the fact that France has lower taxes on alcohol and tobacco than the UK. Large warehouse supermarkets have sprung up on the outskirts of Calais just to serve these British "booze cruisers", who return to the UK with their car suspensions groaning under the weight of cheap alcohol and cigarettes. Since Belgium now has cheaper tobacco than France, it is becoming increasingly common for British day-trippers to travel to the nearby town of Adinkerke, 60km from Calais, and return to France to purchase their alcohol. While most tourists view the town as simply a port where one can buy cheap alcohol, cigarettes and groceries, there is more than that.

Get in[edit]

Passengers travelling from the UK to France go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before embarkation, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling in the other direction go through French exit checks and UK passport/identity card checks in France before embarkation. UK customs checks take place on arrival for those arriving by ferry or Eurostar, and before embarkation for those travelling by Eurotunnel.

By ferry[edit]

Calais is connected to Dover in England by ferry services operated by P&O Ferries [1] and DFDS Seaways [2]. Ferry crossings between Dover and Calais take typically around 1 hour 30 mins. Ferries operate 24 hours per day - combined between the operators, there are up to 41 sailings daily. The check-in time is 30 minutes before departure for vehicles and 45 minutes before departure for foot passengers.

Bear in mind that foot passengers are not allowed on services operated by DFDS Seaways, and can only travel on P&O services between the hours of 08:45-19:05 between Dover and Calais and 07:05-20:55 between Calais and Dover.

The Strait of Dover is one of the most frequented shipping lanes in the world. The Calais ferry port allows easy access to the town itself as well as the warehouse supermarkets outside the town.

Free car parking facilities are available in front of the Calais ferry terminal and the maximum stay is three days.

Another popular ferry route is Dover to Dunkirk (near Calais) which is operated by DFDS Seaways and takes around 2 hours. This route is popular due to the fact that the nearby town of Adinkerke (in Belgium) has lower taxes on tobacco than both France and the UK, thus British day-trippers have convenient access to both cheap tobacco and alcohol rather than just the latter via this ferry route.

Fares for the Dover-Calais ferry vary heavily, depending on which company you book with and when you travel. As a typical example, if booked online, P&O charge £35 for a single, £28 for a 3-day return and £45 for a 5-day return for a car and up to 9 passengers.

Tickets can be booked directly through the company websites or via and

It should be noted that in case of bad weather (or strikes), the ferry traffic is diverted to the tunnel and long queues can form on the autoroute itself.

By train[edit]

Tour Bus, in a train car, in the Chunnel


Eurostar [3] operates high-speed trains between Calais Fréthun station and the following destinations in the United Kingdom and Belgium:

  • London St Pancras International station (1h 2 min; 3 daily from London; 2-3 daily to London)
  • Ebbsfleet International station (44 min; 2 daily from Ebbsfleet; 1-2 daily to Ebbsfleet)
  • Ashford International station (35 min; 1 daily from Ashford)
  • Brussels Zuid-Midi station (1h 2 min; 2-3 daily from Brussels; 3 daily to Brussels)

Note that Calais Fréthun station is some distance from Calais city centre, but there are a number of trains operating between Calais Fréthun and Calais Ville (in the city centre), as well as taxis.

The Eurostar timetable is available from their website [4].

Those travelling by Eurostar between Brussels and Calais are within the Schengen Area, however passengers are still subject to UK immigration controls. The Brussels Midi-Calais Fréthun route can't be purchased through the Eurostar website, however it is available on the Belgian Railways website [5].

Eurostar fares start from £66 return (under 26) and £69 return (adults) from the UK to Calais [6].

Eurotunnel (Le Shuttle)[edit]

Running from Folkestone to the western edge of Calais (Coquelles), this car shuttle service operated by Eurotunnel [7] takes about 35 min (although only about 20 min of the journey is in the tunnel) and offers the fastest way to travel between the UK and Calais. This train service is for passengers with cars only, who remain with their car for the duration of the short trip. There are toilet facilities onboard.


Running from Lille, Boulogne, Dunkirk and Paris, Calais is well supported by the French national rail network [8]. Calais Ville is the station serving the city centre, whilst Calais Fréthun is located on the outskirts of Calais. There are trains that operate between Calais Ville and Calais Fréthun stations.

Train & Ferry[edit]

Southeastern [9] offer the Calais Day Tripper ticket - an integrated same-day return from London to Calais - for around £40, which can be purchased on the day at Charing Cross or Victoria stations. This ticket is significantly cheaper than buying a one-way train ticket to Dover plus a one-way foot passenger ferry fare to Calais. However, the ticket is not valid on any high-speed services to Dover - just the ordinary slow trains.

Note that P&O ceased its shuttle bus between Dover Priory train station and the ferry terminal in 2014. However, they are still linked by the number 63 bus, which departs from outside the railway station.

By road[edit]

Calais is directly linked to the French autoroute system. The two autoroutes that serve Calais are the A26/E15 (Autoroute des Anglais), which provides access to the heart of France (including Paris and beyond) and the A16/E40, a gateway to the Benelux and the northern European motorway systems. The A16/E402 (L'Européenne) also directs you to western France, including Boulogne, and is an alternate route to Paris and the South.

By bus[edit]

Eurolines [10] operate daily buses from Paris, Lyon and London to Calais. Some services from London also stop at/near Gillingham, Canterbury, Folkestone and/or Dover en route. The Eurolines stop in Calais varies - services which operate across the Channel via the tunnel stop at the Cite Europe shopping centre, whereas the services which use the ferry stop at the ferry terminal. Fares from the UK to Calais are around £33 for a single and £44 for a return.

An alternative option for travellers from the UK is to take a National Express [11] coach from London to Dover (Ferry Port bus stop) and board the ferry as a foot passenger. This option, however, is significantly more expensive than the Eurolines service.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

Most people travel by car around the town, but there is a comprehensive network of buses operated by Vivabus [12], running from the town centre to the suburbs and Cité Europe. The port is served by a special shuttle bus, although via a footbridge the centre and the harbour terminal are only 15 min apart.

Bus 1 is useful for reaching the Cité Europe shopping mall. Services run every 30 min during the day and costs €1 per ticket, €3 for a day pass or €7.50 for 10 tickets - board through the front door and pay the driver.

There is a free minibus service called Balad’in, which runs in the centre of Calais. The buses are bright yellow/blue and easy to spot. They stop at yellow Balad’in bus stops. The buses operate from 0900 to 1900, Monday to Saturday and operate every 12 minutes. The route goes from Jardin des Plantes to Matelote (near the lighthouse) via the Calais-Ville train station.

Timetables for all buses can be found here [13].

By bicycle[edit]

There are a few different bike rental programs in Calais:

  • Les Vél'in ☎ +33 3 68 78 01 62 A modern bicycle-sharing system operated by Vivabus. Users will find it similar to that of the "Vélib" system in Paris and the "Santander Cycles" system in London. There are 35 stations where you may pick a bike, and leave it at another station. Via the Internet, by phone or at the office at 68 Boulevard Lafayette, you can subscribe for 1 day (€1) or 7 days (€3) with a security deposit of €150. After which, you may access a bike with a Vel'in contactless card or mobile phone.
    The first 30 min are free, the following 30 min costs €1, the following hour also costs €1 and each additional hour costs €2.
  • Opale Vélo Services ☎ +33 3 21 00 07 41 Conventional bike hire offering bicycles by the hour, half-day, day, weekend, 3 days, week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks or month.

See[edit][add listing]

Église Notre-Dame de Calais
  • Rodin's Artwork outside the town hall
  • The 2 parcs : Have a look around the Parc Saint-Pierre to see nice typical bow windows houses
  • The town Hall : Get in, and go upstairs through the majestous staircase to the first floor and the wedding room, the ballroom, and the "parlement" room. Self visit (signs to read) or guided tour by Opale Tour. End 2010 it will be possible to climb the Belfry with an elevator.
  • Light Tower : Visit and climb up to the light. Wonderful view. Little museum.
  • Cité Internationale de la dentelles et de la mode : An old manufactury refurbished in a "living" museum about the story of the lace, and especially the mechanic lace made in Calais on levers. You can see 2 machines working for real. Restaurant, bar and lace shop. Really worth to do. You need at least 2 h to see it. 03 21 00 42 30 [14]
  • Modern Art museum : 25 rue Richelieu, permanent and temporary exhibitions. Sculpture, paintings. Great expo from George Rousse untill end of January.
  • War museum : Parc Saint Pierre in front the Town Hall, located in a real bunker
  • Theater : Place Albert Ier, guided tours by Opale Tour
  • Le Channel, Scène Nationale : Shows, Library, restaurant, in a former slaughterhouse. Really worth a visit for the archictecture /
  • Église Notre-Dame de Calais - the only church built in the English perpendicular style in France.
  • Courgain Maritime and fish market : A former fishermen quarter outside the walls of the city. Rebuild after the war, but nice palce to buy fresh fish and have a drink.
  • The beach and the jetty : To have a look on the ferries playing the route between France and Britain
  • The White Cliffs of Dover : In the distance
  • Citadelle and Fort Nieulay : Renaissance fort with guided tours

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Swimming pool (Piscine Ranson or ICEO complex), to the skating rink (Iceo)
  • Char à voile, base des Hemmes de Marck
  • Sailing school : Base de voile, Blériot-Plage (coast road to Sangatte)
  • Cinemas : Alhambra (beside Town Hall, VOSTF films !) or Gaumont Multiplex (Cité Europe)
  • Bowlings : Bowling de Calais , avecnue de St6exupéry or Bowling quai 121, (Cité Europe)
  • Visit the Coast up to "Cap Blanc Nez" (White Nose Cap), Unesco Classified site. If you have no car, you can take the bus (double-decker) at the theater or the station for 1 € there along the see road. Really cool.
  • Exhibitions
  • La cours d'artistes : 294 grande rue du petit courghain, 62100 Calais 0660846363, [15]
  • Mondiavision : galerie de photos , rue du Vauxhall, Calais

Buy[edit][add listing]


As is the case in the rest of France (and most of Europe), the sole official currency is the euro (EUR, €). However, many shops frequented by tourists (particularly the alcohol-selling warehouse supermarkets on the outskirts of the city) also accept the pound sterling (GBP, £).


  • Cité Europe [16] - Large shopping centre containing 147 shops, 20 restaurants, a 12-screen cinema and a bowling alley. Located next to the Channel Tunnel terminal (Junction 41 or 42 on the A16). Note that the shops do not sell tobacco and are also closed on Sundays, except for the five Sundays before Christmas and the first Sunday after Christmas.
  • Alcohol – since France has lower taxes on alcohol than the UK, various establishments have set up to cater for British day-trippers; although sometimes it can be a little cheaper to go to a local hypermarket (and you can also pick up groceries). The main hypermarkets are Auchan and Carrefour, the latter within the Cité Europe shopping centre, and can both be reached on bus 5. In the town centre, there is a smaller Carrefour located at the back of the Quatre Boulevards shopping centre (near the Opéra).
  • Markets - Place Crevecœur on Thursdays and Saturdays - Place d'Armes on Saturdays
  • Lace : three places worth a visit
  • - Museum shop
  • - Boutique Noyon : 85 rue de Vic - 62100 Calais Tel : 03 21 46 78 04, / old factory turned into a designer shop
  • - Les dessous de Calais : Boulevard Lafayette - 62100 Calais tel: 03 21 97 59 16 : outlet design shop for lingery and clothes with great discounts !

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Baba ô Rhum - 5, Rue André Gerschell - 62100 Calais - Tel: 0321 96 51 27‎ : no more food but great bar.
  • Au Cadre Vert - 3 Rue André Gerschell - 62100 Calais Tel: 0321 34 69 44 : for people who are really hungry, best quantity/quality value. Worth a visit for Christiane.
  • La Guinguette - 17 rue Félix Cadras - 62100 Calais Tel: 0321 36 96 95 : Home Food, family atmosphere , best quantity/quality value. Open 7/7
  • L'Ambrosia - 14 Rue de la Mer - 62100 Calais - Tel : 0321 36 09 89 : Wok specialist but not Asiatic with good value and price.
  • L'Hovercraft - Boulevard Clemenceau - 62100 Calais - Tel : 0321 34 59 73 : bar and brasserie - The largest choice of "welsh" dishes (speciality from Calais/Boulogne) - Open late - Big terrace
  • Le Melting potes - 2 Rue Jean de Vienne - 62100 Calais - Tel : 0321 19 11 46. New restaurant with more than 50 dishes from France and abroad. Cheap and ok
  • Chocolat'Thé - 53 rue Royale - 62100 Calais - 0321 34 34 85 : great home made food and excellent place for a Tea/coffee break in the afternoon
  • Friterie des Nations - Parking de la plage - 62100 Calais : Some chips in front of the see
  • Friterie Wilson - Avenue Wilson (Parc Saint-Pierre)- 62100 Calais : may be the best chips in town - near Town Hall and railways Station
  • New Way - 3 rue Babinet (Place Crevecoeur) - 62100 Calais Tel: 0321 85 02 13 : fresh Sandwiches, Soups, Pastas and salads you can create by your own

For a lot more infos, have a look on the Couchsurfing Wiki Page of Calais. [17]

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Le Baba O Rum - Rue Gerschell - 62100 Calais
  • La Mauvaise Herbe - Rue Royale - 62100 Calais
  • L'Arsenic - Rue Royale - 62100 Calais
  • Le bar du Yacht Club - Bassin Ouest - 62100 Calais : nice 1980s music... particular atmosphere
  • Le n'importe koi - Rue de la mer - 62100 Calais : concert every sunday afternoon. You can borrow free games to play inside.
  • La Suite - Rue Jean Quéhen - 62100 Calais : night bar : to carry on after Baba ou Mauvaise herbe
  • Le 555 - rue Royale - 62100 Calais : old but famous disco ...
  • La Nauvia - Rue Jean Quéhen - 62100 Calais : disco
  • Le Temple - Sortie Calais ST Pierre - 62100 Calais : best disco
  • Le Casino de Calais - 59 rue Royale - 62100 Calais : slot machines, blackjack
  • Le Channel Scène Nationale - 173 Boulevard Gambetta - 62100 Calais - 0321467710 or : Former slaughtery house , refurbished in a huge cultural center with various rooms, café, resto, bookstore. This is a really great place.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Auberge de Jeunesse de Calais - Avenue du Maréchal DeLattre de Tassigny - 62100 Calais Tel :0321 34 70 20 / email : [email protected] .... Youth hostel, but no age limit with private room. really close to the beach. Nice place
  • Au mouton Blanc - 44 rue du Vauxhall - 62100 Calais - Tel :0321 34 71 52 / near the theater and 4B shopping center ... family owned ... Guide du routard recommended


It is not unknown for strikes to occur in Calais. Typically, strike action shuts down the port, and sometimes the Channel Tunnel as well. It is therefore advisable to check whether any strikes are due to occur when you plan to travel to Calais.


  • Gr-flag.png Greece, 12, Boulevard des Alliés, BP 450, +33 321-972700 (fax: +33 321-974159).  edit


Get out[edit]

For a more 'traditional' experience of France, the town of Saint-Omer is a mere 26 miles (43 kilometres) down the road from Calais and is well-signposted. The Saturday morning market on the main square, the Place Foch, can be enjoyable. There are also good affordable restaurants and friendly bars, as well as interesting architecture.

Dunkirk is 30 miles (48 kilometres) east of Calais along the A16.

Other options:

  • Ardres — for the old city and its lakes
  • Guines — with its marshes, forest and old tower
  • Wissant — with the Le site des 2 Caps on the seaside
  • Oye Plage — with the natural reserve of Le Platier d'Oye

To hitchhike to Belgium or the Netherlands, if you leave the terminal, you must walk 500 m through a large car park, after which you will see roundabout and an on-ramp to the motorway. That is the place to hitch a ride: there is enough space even for a big lorry.

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