34 Facts About Calais


Calais is a port city in the Pas-de-Calais department, of which it is a subprefecture.

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Calais is a major port for ferries between France and England, and since 1994, the Channel Tunnel has linked nearby Coquelles to Folkestone by rail.

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Calais came under English control after Edward III of England captured the city in 1347, followed by a treaty in 1360 that formally assigned Calais to English rule.

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Calais grew into a thriving centre for wool production, and came to be called the "brightest jewel in the English crown" owing to its great importance as the gateway for the tin, lead, lace and wool trades .

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Calais remained under English control until its capture by France in 1558.

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Old part of the town, Calais proper, is situated on an artificial island surrounded by canals and harbours.

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Calais was improved by the Count of Flanders in 997 and fortified by the Count of Boulogne in 1224.

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Calais agreed to spare them, on condition that six of the principal citizens would come to him, bareheaded and barefooted and with ropes around their necks, and give themselves up to death.

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The municipal charter of Calais, previously granted by the Countess of Artois, was reconfirmed by Edward that year .

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Calais was regarded for many years as being an integral part of the Kingdom of England, with its representatives sitting in the English Parliament.

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The continued English hold on Calais however depended on expensively maintained fortifications, as the town lacked any natural defences.

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The duration of the English hold over Calais was, to a large extent, the result of the feud between Burgundy and France: both sides coveted the town, but preferred to see England control it rather than their domestic rivals.

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Calais remained an important maritime city and smuggling centre throughout the 17th century.

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However, during the next century, the port of Calais began to stagnate gradually, as the nearby ports of Boulogne and Dunkirk began to rise and compete.

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In 1805, Calais hosted part of Napoleon's army and invasion fleet for several months before his aborted invasion of Britain.

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Calais was a key port for the supply of arms and reinforcements to the Western Front.

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Calais was virtually razed to the ground during World War II.

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In May 1940, it was a key objective of the invading German forces and became the scene of a last-ditch defence—the siege of Calais—which diverted a sizable amount of German forces for several days immediately prior to the Battle of Dunkirk.

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Calais was very heavily bombed and shelled in a successful effort to disrupt German communications and persuade them that the Allies would target the Pas-de-Calais for invasion .

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On 27 February 1945 Calais experienced its last bombing raid—this time by Royal Air Force bombers who mistook the town for Dunkirk, which was at that time still occupied by German forces.

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Since 1999 or earlier, an increasingly large number of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers started to arrive in the vicinity of Calais, living in the Calais jungle, the nickname given to a series of makeshift camps.

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Calais is located on the Pas de Calais, which marks the boundary between the English Channel and North Sea and located at the opposite end of the Channel Tunnel, 40 kilometres from Dover.

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The commune of Calais is bordered by the English channel to the north, Sangatte and Coquelles to the west, Coulogne to the south and Marck to the east.

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Calais is part of the Cote d'Opale, a cliff-lined section of northern French coast that parallels the white cliffs on the British coast and is part of the same geological formation.

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Calais possesses direct rail links to Paris, 148 miles to the south.

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Calais was a particularly important centre in the production and trade of wool and cloth, which outweighed the costs of maintaining the town as part of England.

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Mayor of Calais has been Natacha Bouchart since 2008, first for the Union for a Popular Movement and then its successor The Republicans.

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Calais Lighthouse was built in 1848, replacing the old watch tower as the lighthouse of the port.

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Le theatre municipal or Calais Theatre is located on the Boulevard Lafayette and was built in 1903 on a plot of land which was used as a cemetery between 1811 and 1871.

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Many years the most famous hotel in Calais was the Hotel d'Angleterre, often called Dessin's or Dessein's, after the family which owned it for almost a hundred years.

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Main centre of night activity in Calais is at the Casino Le Touquet's on the Rue Royale and at the 555 Club.

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Calais was represented in association football by the Calais RUFC, who competed in the Championnat National.

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Port of Calais was the first cable ship port in Europe and is the fourth largest port in France and the largest for passenger traffic.

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Gare de Calais-Ville is the nearest station to the port with trains to Gare de Boulogne-Ville and either Gare de Lille Flandres or Gare de Lille Europe.

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