For other places with the same name, see Calais (disambiguation).

Calais (Dutch: Kales) is a city in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of France.


Calais pier.

It is the closest point on the French mainland to England; Dover lies across the English Channel (La Manche) just 32 km (20 miles) away. The town has a major cross-Channel ferry port, and the French entrance to the Channel Tunnel is nearby. Calais is popular with British day-trippers arriving by ferry or on Channel Tunnel shuttle trains one reason being because France has lower taxes on alcohol and tobacco. Large warehouse supermarkets have sprung up on the outskirts of Calais just to serve these British "booze cruisers" who return to the UK with their suspensions groaning under the weight of cheap alcohol and cigarettes. While most tourists view the town as simply a port, there is much more to Calais than just that.

Get in

By ferry (car and foot)

Calais is connected to Dover in England by ferry services operated by P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways. Ferry crossings between Calais and Dover take typically around 1 hour 30 mins and there are up to 46 sailings daily. The check-in time is 30 minutes before departure for vehicles and 45 minutes before departure for foot passengers.

Cranes in the ferry terminal, Calais

The strait of Dover is one of the most frequented shipping lanes in the world. Calais ferry port allows easy access to the town itself as well as shops outside the town, many of which are designed to sell alcohol to visitors from the UK where higher taxation means alcohol of all kinds is normally priced higher.

Free car parking facilities are available in front of the Calais ferry terminal and the maximum stay is three days.

Another popular ferry route is Dover to Dunkirk (near Calais) which is operated by DFDS Seaways and takes around 2 hours.

Passengers travelling by ferry from Dover to Calais/Dunkirk go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before embarkation, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling in the other direction from Calais/Dunkirk to Dover by ferry go through French exit checks and UK passport/identity card checks in Calais/Dunkirk before embarkation, and UK customs checks on arrival in the UK.

Fares for the Dover-Calais ferry start from £25 (day return) and £39 (single) for a car with up to 9 passengers.

By car

Tour Bus, in a train car, in the Chunnel

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Running from Folkestone to the western edge of Calais (Coquelles), this car shuttle service operated by Eurotunnel takes about 35 min (although only about 20 min in the tunnel) and offers the fastest way to travel between France and the UK. This train service is for passengers with cars only, who remain with their car for the duration of the short trip, as there are no restaurants (except a fast food restaurant) but there are toilets.

Passengers travelling from Folkestone to Calais go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding the train, rather than on arrival in France. Those travelling in the other direction from Calais to the UK by Eurotunnel go through UK passport/identity card and customs checks in Coquelles before boarding the train, rather than on arrival in the UK.


The port in Calais is directly linked to the French motorway system. The A26/E15, which provides access to the heart of France including Paris and beyond and the A16/E40, a gateway to Benelux and the northern European motorway systems. The A16/E402 directs you to western France.

By train


Eurostar operates high-speed trains between Calais Fréthun station and the following destinations in the United Kingdom and Belgium:

Note that Calais Fréthun station is some distance from Calais city centre, but there are a number of trains operating between Calais Fréthun and Calais Ville (in the city centre), as well as shuttle buses and taxis.

The Eurostar timetable is available from their website.

Passengers travelling by Eurostar from the UK to Calais go through French passport/identity card checks in the UK before boarding the train, rather than on arrival in France. Passengers travelling in the other direction from Calais to the UK by Eurostar go through French exit checks, followed by UK passport/identity card checks in Calais Fréthun station before boarding the train, and UK customs checks on arrival in the UK.

Those travelling by Eurostar between Brussels and Calais are within the Schengen Area.

Although the Brussels Midi-Calais Fréthun route can't be purchased through the Eurostar website, it is available on the Belgian Railways website.

Eurostar fares start from £66 return (under 26) and £69 return (adults) from the UK to Calais .


Running from Lille, Boulogne, Dunkirk and Paris, Calais is well supported by the French national rail network. Calais Ville is the station serving the city centre, whilst Calais Fréthun is located on the outskirts of Calais. There are trains that operate between Calais Ville and Calais Fréthun stations.

Get around

Most people travel by car around the town, but there is a comprehensive network of buses running from the town centre to the suburbs and Cité Europe. The port is served by a special shuttle bus although via a footbridge the centre, and the harbour terminal are only 15 min apart.

Bus 5 is useful for reaching the large Auchan and Carrefour hypermarkets and the Cite Europe shopping mall and the 6 goes to Calais Frethun Eurostar station. Services run every 30 min during the day and costs about €1 (board through the front door and pay the driver) and all buses terminate outside the Gare D'Ville.


Tour du Guet








Go next

To hitch-hike to Belgium or the Netherlands, if you leave the terminal, you must walk 500 m through a large car park, after which you will see roundabout and an on-ramp to the motorway. That is the place to hitch a ride: there is enough space even for a big lorry.

For a more 'traditional' experience of France, Saint-Omer is a mere 26 miles (43 kilometres) down the road from Calais. The Saturday morning market on the main square, the Place Foch, can be enjoyable. There are also good affordable restaurants and friendly bars, as well as interesting architecture.

Other options:

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