Calais is a city and major ferry port in northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department’s prefecture is its third-largest city of Arras.

 Mayor (2020–2026)Natacha Bouchart (LR)
Area133.5 km2 (12.9 sq mi)
Population (2017-01-01)73,911
 Density2,200/km2 (5,700/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)

Calais overlooks the Strait of Dover, the narrowest point in the English Channel, which is only 34 km (21 mi) wide here, and is the closest French town to England. The White Cliffs of Dover can easily be seen on a clear day from Calais.


The city’s proximity to England has made it a major port for centuries. It is the principal ferry crossing point between England and France, with the vast majority of Channel crossings being made between Dover and Calais. Calais possesses direct rail links to Paris, 148 miles (238 km) to the south. More than 10 million people visit Calais annually.

The town exports in the early 20th century were lace, chemicals, paper, wines, especially champagne, spirits, hay, straw, wool, potatoes, woven goods, fruit, glass-ware, lace and metal-ware.

As a fishing port, Calais has several notable fishing markets including Les Délices de la Mer and Huîtrière Calaisenne on the Boulevard La Fayette, the latter of which is noted for its oysters, lobster and crabs from Brittany. The Emile Fournier et Fils market on the Rue Mouron sells mainly smoked fish including salmon, trout, herring and halibut.


The Tour du Guet (Watch Tower), situated in Calais Nord on the Places d’Armes, is one of the few surviving pre-war buildings. It has a height of 35–39 metres (sources differ).

The Calais Lighthouse (Le phare de Calais) was built in 1848, replacing the old watch tower as the lighthouse of the port. By day it is easily distinguishable from other coastal lighthouses by its white color and black lantern.


  • The Citadel, located on the Avenue Pierre Coubertin,
  • Fort Risban, located on the coast on the Avenue Raymond Poincaré
  • Fort Nieulay, located along the Avenue Roger Salengro

Museums, theatres and cultural centres

Calais contains several museums. These include:

  • the Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle de Calais,
  • Cité internationale de la Dentelle et de la Mode de Calais
  • the Musée de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale (World War II museum).

Theatres and cultural centres include:

  • Le théâtre municipal,
  • Le Centre Culturel Gérard Philipe,
  • Le Conservatoire à rayonnement départemental (CRD),
  • L’auditorium Didier Lockwood,
  • L’École d’Art de Calais,
  • Le Channel

Monuments and memorials

Directly in front of the town hall is a bronze cast of Les Bourgeois de Calais (“The Burghers of Calais”), a sculpture by Auguste Rodin to commemorate six men who were to have been executed by Edward III in 1347.


  • The Monument des Sauveteurs (“Rescuers’ Monument”)
  • The Monument Le Pluviôse 
  • Monument “Jacquard”
  • Parc Richelieu, a garden behind the war memorial
  • Another monument in the Parc Richelieu

Hotels and nightclubs

For many years the most famous hotel in Calais was the Hôtel d’Angleterre, often called Dessin’s or Dessein’s, after the family which owned it for almost a hundred years. 

The main centre of night activity in Calais is at the Casino Le Touquet’s on the Rue Royale and at the 555 Club. Every month, Casino Le Touquet hosts a dinner and dance cabaret. The casino features slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and poker facilities.


There are several schools in Calais. These include Groupe Scolaire Coubertin, Eglise Saint-Pierre, Universite du Littoral, Centre Universitaire, Lycée HQE Léonard de Vinci on Rue du Pasteur Martin Luther-King, École d’Art de Calais on Rue des Soupirants, and the Centre Scolaire Saint-Pierre on Rue du Four à Chaux which provides education in the primary grades, high school, and vocational school.

There are at least seven colleges in the city, such as Collège Martin Luther King on Rue Martin Luther King, Collège Nationalisé Lucien Vadez on Avenue Yervant Toumaniantz, Collège Les Dentelliers on Rue Gaillard, College Jean Mace on Rue Maréchaux, Collège République on Place République, Collège Vauban on Rue Orléansville, and Collège Privé Mixte Jeanne d’Arc on Rue Champailler.



The Port of Calais was the first cable ship port in Europe and is the fourth largest port in France and the largest for passenger traffic. The port accounts for more than a third of economic activity of the town of Calais.


As well as the large port, the town is served by three railway stations: Gare de Calais-Fréthun, Gare de Calais-Ville, and Gare des Fontinettes, the former being the first stop on mainland Europe of the Eurostar line. 


Calais–Dunkerque Airport is located at Marck, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) east north east of Calais. Saint-Inglevert Airfield is located at Saint-Inglevert, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) south west of Calais.


City of Calais
Rue Paul Bert, 62100 Calais, France
+33 3 21 46 62 00