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

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.

Get in


From Dover takes just over 1h15 minutes; the operators are:

  • Seafrance
  • P&O


Le Shuttle

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.


Tour Bus, in a train car, in the Chunnel

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.


Running from Lille, Boulogne, Dunkirk and Paris, Calais is well supported by the French rail network.


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).

Get around

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.


  • 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 upstairs through the majestous staircase leading to the first fllor and the wedding rooms, the ballroom, and the "parlement" room. Self visit (signs to read) or guides tour by Opale Tour. mid or end 2010 will be possible to climb the Belfry with an elevator.
  • Light Tower to visit and climb up to the light. Wonderful view. Little museum.
  • Cité Internationale de la dentelles et de la mode : open in june 2009 . / 0321 00 42 30: old manufactury refurbished in a "living" museum. All about the story of the lace, and especially the mechanic lace made in Calais on leavers . You can see 2 machines working for real. Restaurant, bar and lace shop.
  • Modern Art museum : 25 rue Richelieu ... Permanent and temporary exhibitions. Sculpture, paintings
  • War museum : Parc Saint Pierre in front the Town Hall, located in a real bunker
  • Theater : place Albert 1er : guided tours by Opale Tour
  • Le Channel, Scène Nationale : Shows, Library, restaurant, .. in former slaughtery house. Really worth a visit for the archictecture /
  • Notre-Dame Church : unfortunaltely in refurbishment. End in. From 1300's. Tudor Style.
  • Courgain Maritime and fish market : former fishermen quarter out of the walls of the city. Rebuild after the war, but nice palce to buy fresh fish and have a drink. Guided Tour buy Opale Tour
  • 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 faint distance
  • Citadelle and Fort Nieulay : 15-1700's fort . Guided Tours


  • See above
  • You can also do to the swimming pool (Piscine Ranson or ICEO complex), to the skating rink (Iceo,
  • Cinemas : Alhambra (beside Town Hall) or Gaumont Multiplex (Cité Europe)
  • Bowlings : Bowling de Calais , avecnue de St6exupéry or Bowling quai 121 , Cité Europe
  • Vist the Coast up to "Cap Blanc Nez" (White Nose Cap), Unesco Classified site - If you don't have a car, you can take the bus (double deck) at the theater or Railway station. it will cost you 1 € to go there along the see road. Really cool.


  • Cite Europe - Large shopping centre containing 147 shops, 20 restaurants, and a cinema. Located next to the Channel Tunnel terminal (Junction 41 or 42 on the A16). Note that the shops are closed on Sundays and none of them sell tobacco.
  • Alcohol – since France has slightly lower taxes on alcohol than the UK various establishments have set up to cater for day trippers, although often it is a little cheaper to go to a local hypermarket (and you can pick up other stuff). The main hypermarkets are Auchan and Carrefour - the latter is located within the Cite Europe shopping mall and can both be reached on bus #5.
  • Lace : 3 places worth a visit

- Museum shop - Boutique Noyon : 85 rue de Vic - 62100 Calais Tel : 0321 46 78 04, / old factory turned into a designer shop - Les dessous de Calais : Boulevard Lafayette - 62100 Calais tel :0321 xxxxx : outlet design shop for lingery and clothes ... Great discounts !


There is a fantastic crepe restaurant called La Chênaie in Rue Jean de Vienne.

For more, have a look on the Couchsurfing Wiki Page of Calais :


A lot as you can imagine ... too close to UK ! ;-)

Have a look on the Couchsurfing Wiki page of Calais :


If unfortunately, you don't find a couch, here are 2 cheap but serious adresses :

  • 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

Get out

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.

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