Calais The Port City So Many Visit But Never See
Posted on August 27, 2011 by sguese
Churchill said of Calais, “Never in the field of human tourism have so many travelers passed through a place and so few stopped to visit.” The statement seems to be true as Calais is a port town through and through. Just 40 kilometers from Dover, Calais remains the busiest French passenger port. While the city may technically be in France, many call it the most English town in France. And while Churchill may have been right about Calais, some travelers are stopping not just at the port, but also to explore the museums and restaurants in town. Calais also serves as a good base for exploring the French Flanders and the Channel coast.
Port towns are not usually seen as something of beauty, but Calais provides a vantage point of breathtaking beauty. Cap Blanc-Nez, otherwise known as the White-Nosed Cape, is just that, white. The white cliff sits between Sangatte and Escalles. It offers viewers a glimpse at the Bay of Wissant, the port of Calais, the Cliffs of Kent and the Flemish countryside. If that view has sparked your interest, Calais provides another vantage point, but you will have to do a bit of exercising to reach it. The town’s lighthouse lends a superb panorama. However, you must climb all 271 stairs to reach it.
Apart from vantage points, Calais lends visitors a number of museums to explore. The Musee de la Dentelle et de la Mode resides in a 19th century lace factory. The museum pays tribute to Calais’s glorious lace making tradition. Visitors can move on to the Musee de la Guerre. World War II artifacts are on display including uniforms, weapons and proclamations. The museum itself is something of an artifact. It is housed in a concrete bunker. For a time it used to be a German naval headquarters in the area.
Perhaps the city’s most complete museum is the Musee des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle. The museum highlights modern sculptures with a number of pieces by Rodin. It also continues to tell of the lace making history in Calais. Visitors can view some of the first lace machines smuggled over from England in 1816.
One of the only origins of Calais to make it out of World War II is the Tour de Guet. It remains a powerful remnant of pre- 20th century Calais. At the base, the structure is square while at the top it turns octagonal.
So many have passed through Calais and never looked around. The problem with being a major port city is that you are often overlooked, cast aside for more appealing nearby destinations. If you are one of those travelers Churchill described, just passing through, stay a night in Calais to discover that it is much more than just a port city.
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