Calais is one of the three major cities on the Opal Coast (next to Dunkirk and Boulogne). It is located near Cap Blanc Nez, where the Channel is at its narrowest. In UK, the North Sea is often referred to as "the Strait of Dover".
The Pas de Calais is geologically a very recent phenomenon. Barely 20,000 years ago, during the last ice age, the level of seawater was so low that the Channel was a valley through which the Rhine flowed. The Meuse, the Schelde and the Thames were lateral rivers of the Rhine. At the end of the last ice age, as far as 12,000 years ago, the Channel was cast in its current form.
Calais is the departure point of the ferry to England, one of the busiest navigable sea routes for passenger transport. Every day there are about ten transfers for both passengers and freight transport. The route follows the coast from Calais to Cap Blanc Nez and offers a beautiful view of the Opal Coast and the two capes.
The main tourist attraction of Calais is the City Hall (26) , with its tower that rises above the city. It was only built in 1911 and is a combination of neo-Renaissance and Flemish style.
The Belfry was built against the town hall in 1925. There is a lift that takes you 75 meters up to enjoy a beautiful view of the city and the harbor. (entrance fee: 5 EUR, closed on Mondays and public holidays).
In front of the town hall there is a sculpture (25) by August Rodin. The statue dates from 1888 and is one of Rodin's most famous works. It is called "The Citizens of Calais" and depicts 6 prominent citizens of the city who in 1347, after an 11-month siege, were on their way to the King of England to offer their lives in exchange for saving the city. The gesture was appreciated by the English King Edward III (at the urging of his wife Filippa of Hainaut) and both the lives of the 6 citizens and the city were spared.
There are twelve versions of the sculpture (different casts). Other versions are in the Rodin Museum in Paris and in the Musée Royal de Mariemont (Belgium).
In the northern district of Calais (north of the town hall), you will find
(the numbers above refer to a card in our guidebook - still to be translated in English )