Calais is a busy port overlooking the Channel and, on clear days, the White Cliffs of Dover. It's one of the Nord-Pas de Calais' key trade and tourism hubs and its nearby hypermarkets are popular with day-trippers and returning holidaymakers, who visit in order to stock up on high quality wines, cheeses and other French produce before catching the ferry or Eurostar home.
The old part of the town is noted for its impressive Hôtel de Ville, with a familiar Big Ben-style belfry. Outside the town hall stands Rodin's statue of The Burghers of Calais, which recalls a famous moment during Edward III's 1347 siege of Calais. Six of the town's most important citizens offered their lives to save the rest of the town, only to be granted clemency when the English king's wife pleaded with her husband for mercy. After the siege Calais became an English territory and was an important gateway for the tin, cloth and wool trades for the next 200 years, before being retaken by the French in the mid 16th-century.