Calais is a town and major ferry port in northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the prefecture is its third-largest city of Arras. The population of the area at the 2010 census was 126,395. Calais overlooks the Strait of Dover, the narrowest point in the English Channel, which is only 34 km wide here, the White Cliffs of Dover can easily be seen on a clear day from Calais. Calais is a port for ferries between France and England, and since 1994, the Channel Tunnel has linked nearby Coquelles to Folkestone by rail. Due to its position, Calais since the Middle Ages has been a major port and it was annexed by Edward III of England in 1347 and grew into a thriving centre for wool production. The town came to be called the brightest jewel in the English crown owing to its importance as the gateway for the tin, lead, lace. Calais was a possession of England until its capture by France in 1558. In 1805 it was an area for Napoleons troops for several months during his planned invasion of the United Kingdom. The town was razed to the ground during World War II. During World War II, the Germans built massive bunkers along the coast in preparation for launching missiles on England, the old part of the town, Calais proper, is situated on an artificial island surrounded by canals and harbours. The modern part of the town, St-Pierre, lies to the south, south east of the Place is the church of Notre-Dame, built during the English occupancy of Calais. It is arguably the only built in the English perpendicular style in all of France. In this church former French President Charles de Gaulle married his wife Yvonne Vendroux, south of the Place and opposite the Parc St Pierre is the Hôtel-de-ville, and the belfry from the 16th and early 17th centuries. Today, Calais is visited by more than 10 million annually, although the early history of habitation in the area is limited, the Romans called the settlement Caletum. Julius Caesar mustered 800 to 1,000 sailing boats, five legions, as the pebble and sand ridge extended eastward from Calais, the haven behind it developed into fen, as the estuary progressively filled with silt and peat. Calais was improved by the Count of Flanders in 997 and fortified by the Count of Boulogne in 1224, in 1189, Richard the Lionheart is documented to have landed at Calais on his journey to the Third Crusade. Angered, the English king demanded reprisals against the citizens for holding out for so long
Port of Calais
"Le Devouement des Bourgeois de Calais 1347", "The Devotion of the Burghers of Calais". Philippa of Hainault begs King Edward III to spare the lives of the six volunteers for martyrdom. 19th-century mural in Council Chamber, Hôtel de Ville, Calais
The Marches of Calais temp. Henry VIII. (Top: south, bottom:north): "Cales Market" within citadel, shown at bottom, top "Gyenes Castel", bottom left "Graveling", bottom right "Sand Gat"