Calais is connected to Dover in England by ferry services operated by P&O Ferries, DFDS Seaways, Norfolkline and LD Line Ferries. The ferry crossings between Calais and Dover take typically around 1 hour 30 mins and there are up to 136 sailings daily. The check-in time is 30 minutes before departure for vehicles and 45 minutes before departure for foot passengers.
Another popular ferry route is Dover to Dunkirk (near Calais) which is operated by DFDS Seaways and takes around 2 hours.
Free car parking facilities are available in front of the Calais ferry terminal and the maximum stay is three days.
The port in Calais is also directly linked to the French motorway system. The A26/E15, which provides access to the heart of France including Paris and beyond and the A16/E40, a gateway to Benelux and the northern European motorway systems. The A16/E402 directs you to western France.
Passengers travelling by ferry from Dover to Calais/Dunkirk go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before embarkation, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling in the other direction from Calais/Dunkirk to Dover by ferry go through French exit checks and UK passport/identity card checks in Calais/Dunkirk before embarkation, and UK customs checks on arrival in the UK.
Visitor Attractions in Calais, France
Calais is not just famous for being an important ferry port connecting France and England, but also as a developing tourist centre with its rich cultural heritage, museums, French gastronomic delights, spirited nightlife and its Belfries, (siege towers constructed to protect the town from invasions) which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Popular tourist and visitor attractions in Calais are:-
The Six Burghers Monument
The "Les Six Bourgeois" is the most famous monument of Calais sculpted by Rodin in 1895 and depicts the heart rendering story of six men who surrendered themselves to King Edward III to be hanged, in hope that their city would discover its freedom. The event which took place on 4th August 1347 was avoided due to the King's wife Queen Philippa de Hainault who requested her husband to spare the lives of the six notables. But the city continued to be under the rule of English till 1558. To commemorate the event the statue was inaugurated on 3 June 1895.
Calais Town Hall
The Town Hall of Calais is one of the important landmarks in Calais mainly because of its architecture and historical importance. The construction of the Town Hall belfry started in 1911 and its main aim was to merge the towns of Calais and Saint-Pierre. The erection was interrupted during World War I and was finally completed in 1925. The architecture of the building is in Neo-Flemish style with bricks and stone being the prominent materials used. The spire of the belfry stands 75 mtrs tall from where an electric bell rings every hour. The Town Hall structure is so distinguishing that it can be seen from miles around.
The Calais Lighthouse with its towering height of 51 mtrs and 271 steps to climb to the top may seem a little to tiring, but the amazing breathtaking view of the Calais town and the English Channel, that you get to experience, is of once in a lifetime. If lucky and the sky is clear you many also get to see the White Cliffs of Dover which are 26 miles away.
Church of Notre-Dame / Eglise Notre Dame
The construction of the Church of Notre-Dame had been ongoing for more than 100 years and the mixture of Flemish and English architectural styles may seem a little odd at the start, but it is the oldest church in Calais and also holds importance because it was the wedding venue for General Charles De Gaulle and his wife Yvonne in 1921. The imaginative mindsets of Flemish masons and English architects have given this structure an out of the ordinary Flemish-Gothic look. Renovations in church are still ongoing from the time it was severely damaged during World War II.
The beaches of Calais that run along the Opal Coast not just offer an excellent view of the English Channel, but are home to many sports and recreation facilities such as Cycling, Water-sport, Yachting, Sailing, Wind Surfing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Sand Yachting, Jet Ski, etc. The beaches are un-spoilt and are bordered by a number of eateries and restaurants if you have a "at the moment" urge to eat. If you are not much of a sports person there are other relaxation activities such as sunbathing, strolling along the promenade as you enjoy the view of the harbor.
The Citadel in Calais is a fortification built by Philippe Le Hurperel, Lord of Boulogne in 1929 with the contribution of citizens of Calais, in order to protect their city from attacks. It initially served as the residence of Philippe Le Hurperel, Lord of Boulogne and then in later years served English rulers such as King Edward II till 1558, when finally the city got its freedom. When the city got amalgamated into France, the French King renovated it into an extravagant fortress with the construction of a citadel designed by Vauban.
When Calais was just a marshy land, it was accessible by only one road that came via River Hames. The Nieulay Bridge which connected Calais with the west was protected with a small fort that was designed in such a way, that it could flood the land in the front of the town, in case of enemy attack. This made impossible for the enemy to enter the city. But due to the surprise attacks by the French in 1558 and the Spanish in 1596, the sluices could be opened and the city came under siege. The Spanish modified the fort, thus making it stronger and less vulnerable against attacks. Today, the fort's ruins are a part of a beautiful park.
There are several ways to travel to Calais - by car or coach with a ferry crossing, by car with the Channel Tunnel connection, or by Eurostar train from London, Ashford or Ebbsfleet. Crossings are very quick. The Eurostar train takes just 1 hour, the ferry 1 hour 30 minutes, and the Channel Tunnel a mere 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais.
Calais Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
Running from Folkestone to the western edge of Calais (Coquelles), this car shuttle service operated by Eurotunnel takes about 35 min (although only about 20 min in the tunnel) and offers the fastest way to travel between France and the UK. This train service is for passengers with cars only, who remain with their car for the duration of the short trip, as there are no restaurants (except a fast food restaurant) but there are toilets.
Passengers travelling from Folkestone to Calais go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding the train, rather than on arrival in France. Those travelling in the other direction from Calais to the UK by Eurotunnel go through UK passport/identity card and customs checks in Coquelles before boarding the train, rather than on arrival in the UK.