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Calais, a mere 20 miles (34 km) across the English Channel from Dover, has an acute identity problem since most British visitors traveling to France by ferry have been there but not even seen it. Their loss, for Calais has much to offer. The International Centre of lace and fashion might not sound like a major crowd-pleaser, but for anyone interested in industrial archaeology – and we know you’re out there – this is a mecca with its clanking century-old mechanical loom. You’ll find a cast of Rodin’s celebrated sculpture, The Burghers of Calais, representing a half-dozen townsmen who risked their lives to defend their city in the 14th ...

Calais, a mere 20 miles (34 km) across the English Channel from Dover, has an acute identity problem since most British visitors traveling to France by ferry have been there but not even seen it. Their loss, for Calais has much to offer. The International Centre of lace and fashion might not sound like a major crowd-pleaser, but for anyone interested in industrial archaeology – and we know you’re out there – this is a mecca with its clanking century-old mechanical loom. You’ll find a cast of Rodin’s celebrated sculpture, The Burghers of Calais, representing a half-dozen townsmen who risked their lives to defend their city in the 14th century. The biggest boon, though, is the beach – both nearby Blériot Plage and the one farther afield flanking the 25 miles (40 km) of cliffs along the Côte d’Opale. Here you’ll find the Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale, with its hiking, biking and horse-riding trails and La Coupole, a museum focusing on WWII and the planned invasion of Britain.

Steve Fallon
About the Expert

Steve Fallon has more than two dozen years of experience as a travel writer and guidebook author, having written or contributed to some 80 Lonely Planet and other guides.

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Steve Fallon for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer is the best time. In February-March it's pretty bleak on the coast, but pre-Lenten carnivals (or mardis gras) are the magnet for this area at that time.