Watertravel & Waterside Destinations
People fish on the bank of the harbor inlet, view from the Pont du Moulin St. Martin in Dunkirk.
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People fish on the bank of the harbor inlet, view from the Pont du Moulin St. Martin in Dunkirk.

Calais & Dunkerque / Dunkirk

Situated in the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, these cities comprise an important gateway to the Normandy Coast.

The Hôtel de Ville or town hall of Calais is one of the city's more interesting landmarks.Whether arriving from Britain by way of the Channel Tunnel or the ferry from Dover, or driving down the coast from Belgium, Calais and Dunkirk are typically the first 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 of reaching, their final destination of Britain. This milieu has given the region a notable cultural diversity.

The Hôtel de Ville, or 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.

The Watch Tower is another famous landmark in Calais, the original dating to the 13th century.The 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.

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