Calais

Calais is a town in northern France in the department of Nord-Pas-de-Calais,which is now in the Hauts-de-France region of France.

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 Dover can easily be seen on a clear day. The old part of the town, Calais proper (or Calais-Nord), is situated on an artificial island surrounded by canals and harbours. The modern part of the town, St-Pierre, lies to the south and southeast.

Virtually the entire town was destroyed by heavy bombardments during World War II, so little in Calais pre-dates the war. The Tour de Guet, situated in Calais Nord on the Places d’Armes, is one of the few surviving pre-war buildings. The German wartime military headquarters, situated south of the train station in a small park, is today open to the public as a war museum. The town centre is dominated by its distinctive 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 town centre has seen significant regeneration over the past decade. Another sight is the Alhambra cinema, an arthouse cinema located on the same square as the Hôtel de Ville. Immediately to the west is the Côte d’Opale, a cliff-lined section of coast that parallels the white cliffs on the British coast and is part of the same geological formation.

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