Dunkerque / Dunkirk
Situated in the
region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais,
these cities comprise an important gateway to the Normandy
arriving from Britain by way of the
Tunnel or the ferry from Dover, or driving down the coast
from Belgium, Calais and Dunkirk are typically the
cities encountered on a trip through Normandy.
Although French is
the predominant language,
this region, which at one time was part of The Netherlands, also has
many speakers of a local dialect of Dutch. Also, many Anglophone
immigrants pass through Calais on their ways to, or at least in hopes
reaching, their final destination of Britain. This milieu has given the
region a notable cultural diversity.
The Hôtel de Ville,
town hall, of Calais
(above left) is one of the city’s more interesting landmarks, visible
from miles around. Stained-glass windows filter light around a
grand staircase in an interior which is famous for its decor and
paintings. The 74-meter (246ft) clock tower is known for its chiming
bells as well
as the intricate stonework and other architectural details.
Watch Tower (right) is another famous landmark in
Calais, the original building dating to the 13th century. Damaged by
earthquake in the late 16th century, it was repaired, and then damaged
again by subsequent bombardment. Until the mid-19th century it was used
as a lighthouse, and served as a military post during World War I.
Given such a history of damages and the fact that much of the rest of
Calais was destroyed during World War II, it’s surprising
that the Watch Tower survived that conflict intact.