Overlooking the Strait of Dover, Calais is a trading gateway for France and Britain. Throughout history, Calais has been a major port for ferrying goods. In the 14th century, England annexed Calais and made it a centre for wool production. However, by 1558, France had taken over this major city and almost 300 years later; Napoleon landed his army in the same region to invade England. In World War II, the Germans bombed Calais, razing it to the ground. This was part of their plan to attack England. Modern-day Calais is still one of the main cities linking England to France. However, the Channel Tunnel has made it possible to link other nearby towns like Folkestone and Coquelles.
Calais is the first stop for most UK citizens wanting to anchor in France. It is also very well connected through major highway and train intersections. Only 47 kilometres to the east is Dunkirk, while Paris is about 288 kilometres away to the south. Both of these cities and some more like Saint Omer, Lens, Bethune and even Arras can be accessed easily when you get a car for hire in Calais. Geographically, Calais is flanked by the English Channel to its north, Coulogne to the south, Sangatte to the west, and Marck on the eastern side.
Calais is a modern town due to the heavy trade activity that goes on there. However, it has still managed to preserve some bit of history in the town centre, called the Places d'Armes. Here one can see a 13th century watch tower and some remains of the walled city. Most buildings in the centre are box-shaped and quite unlike other the architecture in France. You can rent a car in Calais and head to the 19th century light house that stand at a height of 50 metres. You would have to climb only 271 steps for a great view of the English Channel. Apart from these historical structures, there is the Notre Dame Church, the Calais theatre, the Remembrance Monument and the Jacquard Statue which should be a part of your sightseeing.
Lot of people come to Calais for the numerous options that it provides for shoppers. There are many bargain hunters and citizens from England who come to Calais for to buy essentials at a cheaper rate. A little distance away from Calais is the Cite d'Europe. This is a shopping area where you will find many fellow shoppers looking for good deals. On busy days, the area is packed with people and access by road can be difficult. In such a case, hire a car in Calais and try other mega markets like the Auchan market; if you are looking for just wine and cheese, everyone has the best of these.
Calais is definitely a city worth visiting to witness all the activity and excitement in the port area. When you have eaten some fresh fish, drunk the best wine, bitten into good French cheese, and bumped into an Englishman for some chit-chat, that's when you will have toured this delightful city.
03 April 2020
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