Calais is The Closest Port to the UK

By: Douglas Scott

To many Britons, Calais is their first sight of mainland Europe. Quite what the locals think, Im not sure, as they watch cars being laden with beer and wine until the suspension groans. The cross channel shopping trade flourishes due to a weak Euro and low alcohol and tobacco taxation on the French side. As Calais is the closest port to the UK it has led to it becoming Europes busiest passenger port.

This geographical closeness has also afforded the town a rich history but World War Two bombing has destroyed many of its physical manifestations.

Calais has been invaded by numerous countries throughout its history, including the Romans, Spanish, English.

Tourist Information Office is within the old town and easy to find.

The town walls have gone but the canal that formed the moat around the town remains. The 13th Century Watchtower in the Place d Armes survives. It was close to this watchtower that six Burghers offered their lives if the English would spare the lives of the towns occupants. Edward III had just defeated the town following a seven month siege in 1347. They were only spared on the intervention of Edwards wife Phillipa of Hainault. The famous statue by Rodin outside the Town Hall commemorates these 6 Burghers.

The English stayed for 200 years but their influence extended much longer. In the 19th Century, Lacemakers from Nottingham settled in the town. You can learn more about the history of lace making by visiting the Muse des Beaux Arts et de la Dentelle. It also displays a fine selection of watercolours and sculpture related drawings.

Other sights worthy of a visit include the old harbour and old lighthouse which dates from 1848. The lighthouse affords a good view of the Port and environs.

Hidden amidst the trees in the park opposite the Town Hall is an old German communications bunker. This is now home to the Muse de la Guerre, War Museum. The displays show life during the Second World War.

You should include time to visit the Cite de l Europe and the Euro tunnel Terminal if you are in Calais. To the South West of Calais the Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Griz Nez and the bay of Wissant are quite beautiful. The Atlantic Wall Museum and La Fortresse de Mimoyecues are two World War Two Museums that shouldnt be missed at all.

The weather is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

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