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Calais Guide

Calais, situated in the north-west corner of France on the Opal Coast, la Côte d’Opale, is often referred to as the most English town in France; the town was in English hands for more than 200 years until 1558, is home to a famous lace industry that was set up by Nottingham lace makers in the early nineteenth century and, at 21 miles distance, is France’s closest point to England. Many visitors, arriving to take advantage of cheap shopping in the many hypermarkets, are surprised at how much more Calais has to offer both in its town and the surrounding area.

Calais overlooks the Straits of Dover, the narrowest point of the channel and is the closest French town to England at only 21 miles distance. It's possible to see the white cliffs of Dover on a clear day from Calais.

With such a short crossing from England, Calais is France’s busiest passenger port. The Dover-Calais route was also the first Continental service to be operated by steam ship, the Rob Roy in 1821.

On a clear day there are stunning views across the Channel of the white cliffs of Dover.

Calais has excellent shopping both in its hypermarkets and in the smaller, specialist shops for local French products.

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