caption=Pier and lighthouse on the Calais seafront|
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Nord-Pas de Calais
canton=Chief town of 4 cantons
maire=Natacha Bouchart (
UMP) | mandat=2008-2014
Communauté d'agglomération du Calaisis
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Calais (IPA2|kaˈlɛ; in English often IPAEng|kæˈleɪ, traditional English pronunciation IPA|/ˈkælɨs/; _nl. Kales) is a town in northern
France. It is in the "département" of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a " sous-préfecture". Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's "préfecture" (capital) resides in its third-largest city of Arras.
The population of the city (commune) at the 1999 census was 77,333 inhabitants (74,800 as of February 2004 estimates). The population of the whole metropolitan area ("
aire urbaine") at the 1999 census was 125,584.
Calais overlooks the
Strait of Dover, the narrowest point in the English Channel, which is only 34 km (21 miles) wide here, and is the closest French town to England, of which Calais was a territorial possession for several centuries. The white cliffs of Dovercan easily be seen on a clear day.
The old part of the town, Calais proper (or Calais-Nord), is situated on an
artificial islandsurrounded by canals and harbours. The modern part of the town, St-Pierre, lies to the south and southeast.
The city's proximity to England has made it a major port for centuries. It is the principal
ferrycrossing point between England and France, with the vast majority of Channel crossings being made between Dover and Calais. The French end of the Channel Tunnelis also situated in the vicinity of Calais, in Coquellessome 4 miles (6 km) to the west of the town.
The mainstay of the town's economy is, naturally, its port, but it also has a number of indigenous industries. The principal ones are lace making, chemicals, and paper manufacture. It possesses direct rail links to
Paris(148 miles / 238 km to the south).
As a result of the marked difference in taxation between Britain and France on such items as
alcoholic beverages and tobacco, massive shopping complexes targeted at British day-trippers have sprung up on and around Calais to take advantage of the border trade. Such day trippers are colloquially known as " booze cruisers" and were the target of considerable attention from the UK Customs and Excise authorities. However, given that both the UK and France are members of the EU customs zone, there is no restriction on the movement of purchases between the two countries as long as the goods are for personal use. [ [http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageTravel_InfoGuides&propertyType=document&id=HMCE_PROD_010221 Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, UK] ]
As well as the large port, the town is served by two railway stations:
Gare de Calais-Fréthunand Gare de Calais-Ville, the former being the first stop on mainland Europe of the Eurostarline.
Calais is represented in
association footballby the Calais RUFC, who will will compete in the Championnat Nationalfor the 2007-08 season having finished as Champions of the CFA Group A last season.
Virtually the entire town was destroyed by heavy bombardments during
World War II, so there is little in Calais that pre-dates the war. For most visitors, the town is simply a place to pass through "en route" to other destinations.
The town centre is dominated by its distinctive "hotel de ville" (town hall), built in the Flemish Renaissance style (and visible well out to sea). Directly in front of the town hall is a cast of the statue "
The Burghers of Calais" (French "Les Bourgeois de Calais"), by Auguste Rodin.
The German wartime military headquarters, situated near the train station in a small park, is today open to the public as a war museum.
Immediately to the west is the
Côte d'Opale, an extremely scenic cliff-lined section of coast that parallels the White Cliffs on the British coast and is part of the same geological formation.
On clear days, the buildings of Calais can quite readily be seen with the naked eye from the British shore, 33 km (21 miles) away.
* [http://www.mairie-calais.fr/ Official Website] (in French)
* [http://www.agglo-calaisis.fr/ Agglomération] (in French)
* [http://www.calais.cci.fr/ Info about the port and city] (in French)
* [http://www.calais-port.com/defaultuk.html Port of Calais]
* [http://www.fortified-places.com/calais.html Calais fortifications]
* [http://www.oldstratforduponavon.com/calais Old Postcard Views of Calais]
* [http://www.somerset3d.co.uk/logos%20&%20pictures/town%20&%20village%20pages/france/calais.htm Photos of Calais in 3d (Anaglyphs).]
* [http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=549bd2b7aa556bd64f0e149025d6cfaf 3D View of Castle of Calais from Henry VIII period Google Earth ]
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