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Carte Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Flag region Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Administration & Statistics

Region Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Departement Pas-de-Calais
Postal code 62100

Elevation 0-18 m
land area 34 km2
Population 74,888 (2006)
Density 2,235 /km2
Calais is the largest town in the department of Pas-de-Calais in northern France. It is the closest French town to England and overlooks the Straits of Dover.

There is evidence of inhabitation since ancient times, The Romans called the settlement Caletum. It became an important port. Over the years control of Calais passed repeatedly from one authority to another. King Edward 3rd, of England captured the city in 1347 and for two hundred years Calais was represented in the English Parliament and was considered an integral part of England. In 1558 Calais was finally recaptured and returned to the French.

The old part of the town, sits on a man made island which is surrounded by canals and harbours. St–Pierre is the modern part of the town, to the south and southeast, and to the west of the city is Cité Europe and the Channel tunnel.

The most important contribution to the town's economy is its port, but it also has a number of other industries. The principal ones are the manufacture of paper, lace making, and chemicals.

Shopping is its most popular tourist attraction, especially with its close neighbours the English. Shopping at genuine french shops is cheaper than shops specifically for tourists. Rue Royale, Boulevard Jacquard and Boulevard Lafayette have a good variety of shops.

But there is more to Calais than shopping. Calais has 8 kilometres of beach and cliff walks and many interesting historic sites for visitors to enjoy.

Fort Risban dating from the 16th century was built on the site of a former English tower called the "Tower of Lancaster". It was constructed to defend access to Calais harbour. In the centre of Calais is the market place of "Place d'Armes" which is dominated by the "Watch Tower". Also in the centre of Calais is the Flemish style town hall, which celebrates the union in 1885 between Calais and Saint- Pierre.

Calais has excellent restaurants and hotels and visitors can enjoy the lively French seaside town atmosphere in its bars and cafes.

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