France's number one passenger port, Calais has a rich historical and cultural heritage that makes this city on the Opal Coast an unmissable stop on any tour of Pas-de-Calais. The city has kept a number of architectural gems from its past, like the city hall. It was built in the Neo-Flemish style and you cannot fail to notice the Tudor-inspired details. It has a grand staircase, magnificent stained glass windows and a belfry standing 75 metres tall, a listed UNESCO site including a clock with four faces and a carillon. Just opposite the city hall, the six Burghers of Calais are a splendid bronze sculpture by Rodin. The Church of Our Lady is a 13th-century building. The upper part of the nave, the choir and the bell tower were built by Flemish labourers. Another remarkable edifice is the 13th-century Watchtower (Tour du Guet), an ancient defensive system standing 35 metres tall, which happens to be Calais' oldest monument.
Located outside of the city fortifications, the maritime quarter is a historical district with two renowned emblems, the Bassin du Paradis and Place du Minck. On the culture side of things, the Museum of Fine Arts possesses a rich collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures ranging from the 16th to 21st centuries. Let's not forget to mention one of the region's skills: lace-making. To find out more about this tradition which dates back to the late 18th century, head to the International City of Lace and Fashion, where you can discover the history of the city's lace industry.
Calais was also a site of conflict during the Second World War. Its story is told through objects and photos at the Second World War Museum (Musée de la Mémoire 39-45), based in a former command and transmission centre for the German Navy. Bear in mind that Calais lighthouse, which dates back to the 19th century, withstood two World Wars. Climb the 271 steps to the top for a breathtaking view of the city, the sea and the English coast!
After all those visitor attractions, the esplanade alongside the sandy beach is a lovely place to sit down or take a walk. This long beach extends all the way to the spectacular site of Cap Blanc-Nez.