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Many of us have been to Calais, but few have really explored it. Only 34kms as the crow flies from Dover, Calais is most Briton's gateway to France. Either by the ferry, or the Channel Tunnel. But if you give it a bit of time you'll realise that there's quite a bit to see and do in and around Calais, and it's an easy base for both the Cote d'Opale and Normandy with most of the best places to stay in Calais being within striking distance of all these.
Opposite the white cliffs is an often dramatic coastline of undulating green stretching between Calais and Boulogne. The Opal Coast also has pretty fishing villages with wonderful, rustic seafood restaurants. Even the road between the villages is charming - you've got your scenic cliff top views and your dips into rural green.
The Cote d'Opale is one of the best places to stay in Calais and surrounds for surfers. It's also a great destination for families looking for a beach break. There's loads of flat sand, plenty of rock pooling opportunities and despite the beauty it never seems to feel too full.
What Not To Miss:
- Baffroi de Calais is the belfry of the Town Hall, a landmark you can see from anywhere in town. Don't be put off by the height, you can take a lift to the top, from where you get a lovely view of the city and coastline.
- Calais was once a textiles giant, especially well know for its lace production. The Cite Internationale de la Dentelles et de la Mode is both a working lace factory and museum. There are some bizarrely complicated and beautiful specimens on display, but the highlight has to be watching an ancient loom with 35,000 vertical threads and 11,000 horizontal ones.
- If you're using Calais as a base to explore Normandy, you'll probably be interested in visiting the Musee Memoire 1939-1945. This museum occupies the bunker built as German Naval command, when they were the occupying army here. And commemorates the part Calais played in WW2.
- Definitely worth strolling past is Rodin's famous Burgers of Calais. This renowned statue honours six local men, who in 1347 held off the besieging army of Edward III for eight months.
The Hotel Guru's pick of the best places to stay in Calais are ideal whether you're just here for a quick night en route either home or further afield in France, or for those who want to scratch below the surface and explore this fascinating area.
The best places to stay in Calais
For chic and central
- If you want to be right in the centre of town book Le Cercle de Malines. This charming old lacemaker's house is both stylish and welcoming with some quirky touches - like a stuffed crocodile - which show the owner/manager's fun side. This is a great choice if you're looking for something full of soul and character. And with only four rooms it's got a very intimate feel too.
For a country escape
- Just out of town, Château de Cocove is perfect if you're looking for classic French elegance. The restaurant, in the converted stables, is excellent and unpretentious. It's the place to go for a country escape feel and it won't break the bank.
- Alternatively you could look at Le Manoir de Bonnigues des Ardres. Here you can expect traditional understated elegance in a Napoleon III manor house. It's fantastic value too.
For an apartment
- If you would prefer your own space, we recommend visiting our online partner Booking.com for a wide range of apartments throughout the area.
- The nearest airport is Ostend-Bruges International Airport, situated 95km (59 miles) from Calais
- Take a ferry to the well-connected port of Calais, providing links to various locations across Europe
- Calais is exceptionally accessible from Britain via rail, notably the Eurostar which arrives a short distance from the city centre
- If you would prefer to hire a car to get out and explore the surrounding countryside, we recommend using our online partner, Holiday Autos
- The best time of year to explore the beautiful region is from May to late September, ensuring warmer temperatures
Best Hotels in Calais
Le Manoir de Bonningues les Ardres 5 rooms from $86Calais
An elegant country Napoleon III manor. Just five romantic bedrooms with parquet floors, high ceilings and attractive fabrics. Traditional, understated, and great value for an escape to the countryside or stop over en route to tunnel or ferry.Local markets - Good for local colour.TraditionalSights nearby - Well located for major sights.Great walks - Good for walkers.Recommended by - Sawdays
Le Cercle de Malines 4 rooms from $97Calais
Maison d’hôte in a late 19th-century lacemaker’s house renovated with taste and charm. It is eclectically decorated and has a small peaceful garden. On the edge of Parc Saint Pierre and just minutes from the ferries. A perfect stop off.Value chic - Great value and even the dog is allowed to stayLocal exploring - Boasting excellent transport linksLocal markets - Large Calais shopping centresGreat walks - Calais beach walks
Chateau de Cocove 27 rooms from $112Calais
Classic 18th century chateau near Calais with a gourmet restaurant and excellent wine cellar. Beautiful elegant bedrooms with high ceilings and pastel furnishings. The restaurant, formerly the stables, has wonderful views of the parkland. A romantic country escape.TraditionalGreat walks - Good for walkers.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.