Difference between revisions of "Calais"
Revision as of 09:04, 4 October 2009
Calais 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 (20 miles) away. The town has a major cross-channel ferry port and the French entrance to the Channel Tunnel is nearby. Calais is popular with 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. 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 suspensions groaning under the weight of cheap booze and cigarettes. While most tourists view the town as simply a port there is a little more to the town.
From Dover takes just over 1h15 minutes; the operators are:
Running from Folkestone to the western edge of Calais the service takes about 35 minutes (although only about 20 minutes are in the tunnel) and offers the fastest way to go between the countries; this service is for passengers with cars only who remain with their car for the duration of the short trip, onboard there are no restaurants (although there are facilities – a fast food restaurant and various shops in the terminal buildings) but there are toilets.
Running from London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet and Ashford, Eurostar offers Calais in 1 hour; there are around 3 trains a day in each direction. Note that the Calais Fréthun TGV stop is some distance from Calais itself; there are however shuttle buses and taxis.
Cars can be taken to the South of France, destinations such as Narbonne, Marseille and Lyon can be reached by train (your car is carried with you).
Most people travel by car around the town, but there is a comprehensive network of buses 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 mins apart. Bus #5 is useful for reaching the large Auchan and Carrefour hypermarkets and the Cite Europe shopping mall and #6 goes to Calais Frethun Eurostar station. Services run every 30 minutes during the day and cost between 80c and €1 (board through the front door and pay the driver) and all terminate outside the Gare D'Ville.
There is not a great deal to do in Calais, mainly shopping... So if generic clothing, touristy-style tat, or copious amounts of alcohol do not suit your most favoured shopping habits, then skip to “Get Out”.
There is a fantastic crepe restaurant called La Chênaie in Rue Jean de Vienne.
To hitchhike to Belgium or the Netherlands, if you leave the terminal, you must walk 500m 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.
For a more 'traditional' experience of France, Saint Omer is a mere 26 miles (43 kilometres) down the road from Calais. The Saturday morning market on its main square, the Place Foch, can be enjoyable. There are also good affordable restaurants and friendly bars, as well as interesting architecture.