Calais is mainly known as transportation center: ferries across the English Channel and trains through the Channel Tunnel to England. The town itself, however, has also something to offer, like the Musée de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale in the former Nazi military headquarters, historical buildings and the famous statue Les Bourgeois de Calais by Rodin. The city is a popular day-trip destination for the British, mainly because of the lower excise charged on alcohol and tobacco in France.
Calais has 75,000 inhabitants; about 50,000 more people live in the entire urban area of the city and surroundings.
Calais is located in the far northwest of France, not far from the border with Belgium. The English Dover lies across the English Channel, at only 32 kilometers. On a clear day you can see the White Cliffs of Dover.
The ferry port and the train connection with England (in Coquelles, about 6 kilometers west of the city) form the pillars of local economy. Directly linked to that is the retail trade which in large part targets visiting British. From way back lace is produced in Calais and there are also paper mills and chemical industry.
The airport, Aéroport de Calais-Dunkerque, is situated near the town of Marck, 7 kilometers east of the city center. By rental car the airport can be reached via the D119 or the D248. The way and the exit to the airport are clearly signposted.
Calais has good public bus transport. The large supermarkets (Auchan, Carrefour and the shopping center Cité Europe) are best reached with line 5. A shuttle bus also runs from the city center to the station of the Eurostar trains.
Finding your way around Calais isn't difficult, but you need to look out for unexpected actions by car drivers. There are people from various countries with different driving cultures and traffic rules (just consider the difference between driving on the left in Great Britain and driving on the right in mainland Europe). In the city center you have to pay for street parking, but around the center there are many possibilities to park for free. You can also park for free for a set time at many large shopping centers.
Most hotels in Calais can be found near the port. There are also (often cheaper) hotels near large shopping centers like La Française en Cité Europe. More luxurious accommodations are mainly concentrated in Coquelles. There are also several hotels and holiday resorts on the beach.
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