Visiting Calais, which is renowned for its busy port and great heritage, will give you a new outlook on the charming towns of northern France.
Located between the North Sea and the Channel, Calais is often in the news because of its proximity to Great Britain, but holidaymakers shouldn't forget that, above all, it's a town that deserves to be explored for what it actually is: a welcoming destination with sprawling beaches and a rich heritage.
One of the pleasures of travelling is also to visit places that often you've only seen one side of. Calais is well worth a visit, and the residents of Calais are proud to share their cultural and maritime identity with visitors. The town was controlled by the English for two centuries, a period of history immortalised by Rodin's famous sculpture in the gardens of the town hall, which depicts the surrender of six burghers of Calais, handing the keys to the town to Edward III. Vauban's fortifications are still a major presence in the town, which often had to defend itself against invaders: Fort Nieulay and Fort Risban, as well as the citadel, are remnants of this period. For its part, the belfry shows off how proud the people of Calais are of their architectural heritage, and provides an opportunity to admire the surrounding area from a height of 75 metres.
Another of Calais's attractions is its lighthouse, a UNESCO world heritage site; be sure to climb the 271 steps to take in the exceptional 360-degree view of the Opal Coast. As France's main passenger port, Calais is a constant whirl of ferries and liners continually weaving around each other.
For lovers of delicate, expertly crafted textiles, the Caudry museum of lace and embroidery is a must to discover the town's history of lacemaking, producing lace that is still highly regarded in haute couture.
As a cross-Channel hub, Calais can be reached by train via the Eurostar, or by ferry, with regular crossings from Dover to Calais ferry port.