Things To See and Do in Calais

A great day out across the Channel

Calais is not famed for its beauty but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great day out in this coastal town. Drive through the town centre to see Calais’ most imposing landmark – the Flemish-style town hall and its beautiful belfry. In front of it is Rodin’s famous life-size bronze sculpture and beyond that is Parc St-Pierre home to a war museum and a memorial to the unknown soldier.

Calais’ sandy beach is surprisingly lovely and just a few more minutes behind the wheel onto the D940 coastal road leads you through quaint fishing villages of Audresselles and Wissant and the rugged beauty of the amazing headlands of Cap Blanc Gris and Cap Blanc Nez. Trekking between these two cliffs is great for the views, the bird watching and taking a peak at the defence buildings from WWII.

Here’s our guide to some Calais’ must-see sights:

Rodin’s Six Burghers

Rodin’s Six Burghers is a masterpiece in bronze and is a monument to bravery.

Calais Beach

Calais Beach is a ribbon of soft sand, ideal for sand-bathing or al-fresco lunching.

Calais Town Hall

Calais Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville), is a gorgeous piece of Flemish architecture and is Calais’ finest landmark.

Place D’Armes

Place D’Armes dates back to medieval times and now houses the colourful open-air markets.

Calais Lighthouse

Calais Lighthouse offers great view over the town and the Channel.

Fine Arts Museum

The Fine Arts Museum displays fine art and especially the drawings and sculptures of Rodin.

Notre-Dame Church

Notre-Dame Church may look a little worse for wear, but has an interesting history.

War Museum

Find the well-hidden War Museum in an old German bunker in Calais’ park.

Historical War Museum

The Historical War Museum is in the sleepy village of Ambleteuse, just 10 minutes drive from Calais.

Le Blockhause d’Eperlecques

Le Blockhause d’Eperlecques is a museum in a former bunker from where Hitler plotted (but was thwarted) the destruction of Britain with V2 rockets.

If its a nice day, you may want to take a look around on foot. Here is a guided walk for you to follow:

Departure Point: Town Hall

From the forecourt of the Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville) admire the bronze statue of Rodin’s Six Burghers of Calais. Opposite, on the other side of the road is the Remembrance Monument and the Parc Saint Pierre where the War Museum is located.

Head towards the beach passing the Central Station crossing the Jacquard Bridge to the Minerva Bas Relief which represents the goddess of Wisdom, of the Sciences and the Arts, patroness of cities: Athena for ancient Greece and Minerva for Rome. Go along Boulevard Clemenceau to the Old Post office on the corner of the rue Edison. Keep on the same side of the road until Rue Royale, then take the rue Jean de Vienne where the ‘Shadow of Lady Hamilton’ is situated. At the end of the road the massive walls of the Citadel come into view.

Follow the Boulevard de ‘L’Esplanade then turn right into rue Andre Gerschel to its intersection with the Rue Royale to the site of the Old Belfry. On the right is the Watchtower.

Continue towards the beach and take the rue de la Mer at the end of which turn right to Bassin du Paradis.

After crossing the Henri Henon bridge you will see the Fort Risban. Beside the fort is a statue erected in the memory of the airman Gilbert Brazy. On the large roundabout opposite take a moment to look at the Pluviose Monument. This sculpture by Emile Guillaume recalls the tragedy of a sunken submarine called Pluviose. It was rammed by a steamship called ‘Pas de Calais’ as it was surfacing and all the 27 crew members died.

Cross the bridge again and turn left into the Boulevard des Allies. The red brick building of the Calais Chamber Commerce is on the right. Keep going until you get to the Lighthouse. The Courgain Maritime quarter is opposite. Look out for the St Peter and St Paul Church.

Take the rue Rivet to the quayside. The monument dedicated to the Sea Rescue Service is close by. See the distinct architectural style of the Courgain Maritime and opposite the Louis XVIII Column.

Return in the direction of Place D’Armes via rue Jean Noel Dubout. Continue to the rue Seigneur de Gourdan to inspect the Royal Reservoir and Notre Dame Church.

Use this road to join the rue Richelieu which takes you to the Fine Arts and Lace Museum. Beyond note the War Memorial situated on the main street at the entrance of Parc Richelieu.

Return to the town centre passing the Town Hall via Boulevard Jacquard. Then turn left into rue de Vic which leads to the Republic College. Turn right to see the Municipal Library. Retake the rue de Vic, turn left and at the end on the left is the URSSAF building where the very first lace factory was established.

Along the Quai du Commerce to Saint Pierre bridge turn right and take the Boulevard La Fayette. Midway along turn left into the rue du Commandant Mengin which extends to the Place Crevecoueur.

Retake this road to the intersection with the Boulevard la Fayette, turn left along the boulevard to the major road junction. On the left is the elegant building of the Municipal Theatre and on its forecourt a statue erected in the honour of Jacquard who invented the automatic loom.

Then follow Bouevard Gambetta and Avenue Salengro to the Fort Nieulay constructed in the 14th century to defend Calais.