Most of us hit the autoroute as soon as landing (or de-training) in Calais (62 Pas-de-Calais, Hauts de France) and heading South (or East), the most frequent diversion being for shopping in one of the Hypermarkets or the Cité Europe complex at Coquelles.
However, there are other reasons to stop in the local area such as the Calais Lace Museum (Cité Internationale de la dentelle et de la mode de Calais) which is a must see. Located in an original lace factory building, visitors can see original working Victorian lace machines and a stunning array of exhibits including a display of original lace clothes and fashion through the centuries. At the final gallery, visitors can use a special camera, which shows themselves dressed in any of the museum’s lace clothes – in 3D.
Just a 10 minute drive from Calais, the quaint, reconstructed Saint-Joseph Village offers a glimpse of what life was like in rural France between 1900 and 1950. Complete with a garage, school, blacksmith’s forge, sawmill and restaurant offering local recipes, this village is a unique learning experience for any child.
Don’t miss the exhibitions of fine art at the Musée des Beaux Arts
Other local Calais attractions in or near Calais include:-
- Calais Lighthouse – 19th Century Lighthouse with great views over Calais and the English Channel
- Guines Clock Tower
- Eurolac & Naviboat – a leisure park with lake and self-drive boats around the local canal network
- Musée 39-45 – museum of the 1939-1945 War
- The Blockhaus at Eperlecques – part of the WWII preparations for invading England.
- Calais War Museum (WWII)
- Musée du Mur de l’Atlantique – a museum in a WWII bunker focussing on the construction of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall
One of my personal favourites is the City Hall with its imposing belfry and Rodin’s sculpture of the “Burghers of Calais”