Ferries to Calais, France

The Nord-Pas-De-Calais (Nord for short) region of France is close to both Belgium and the English Channel, giving it a truly international flavour that will suit most tourists perfectly.

Once a Dutch territory (and still maintaining a number of Dutch speakers today), this is a densely inhabited and thriving area of France which has been one of the most invaded parts of the country in history (Charles de Gaulle, the one time French president, called this area a ‘fatal avenue’ since so many enemy armies had marched through it).

Easy to get to (thanks to the English Channel’s ferries, the Eurotunnel, and a number of different train stations that connect from all over France), with plenty to do once you are here, this could be the new destination for your romantic getaway, short city break, or family holiday.

Getting to Calais

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Dover Calais 15 daily 1½ hours See prices °
Dover Calais 21 daily 1½ hours See prices °
Folkestone Calais 47 daily ½ hour See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Sorry, no mini cruise routes can be found sailing to Calais sailing on a cruise ship.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Cruise & Maritime Voyages 2 for 1 sale from £279
  2. 2 for 1 Guernsey mini cruise on Condor Ferries from £32
  3. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp

Sightseeing

Calais Beach

The beach at Calais is a bit of a surprise for anyone who stumbles across it. Although beautiful, clean, and well kept, it isn’t advertised or even spoken about that much by the tourist board. That means that it’s not busy, and at certain times of the year you might be the only visitors on it.

There are a number of restaurants and cafés to enjoy, and whether you want a snack or a full blown meal it doesn’t matter – you’ve got your pick here. If you want to entertain the kids (and yourself) for a day, then Calais Beach is a good choice.

There is a funfair and a mini golf centre here, as well as some lovely, picturesque beach huts dotted along the shoreline. As well as that, you can join in with various beach activities including sand surfing and go karting! Be as active or as laid back as you wish here.

Eglise Notre-Dame (Calais)

This church is the oldest building in Calais, and is where Charles de Gaulle was married in 1921. It was built centuries before that, though, in the 14th century (it took many years to complete). With its gothic spires and gorgeous architecture, this church should certainly be visited when you are in the Calais region.

Interestingly, the Eglise Notre-Dame was built by various different nations, depending on who was invading at the time. Why the ‘enemies’ of France chose this church to play with we don’t know, but the mix of styles and materials are clear to see, making this a completely unique building.

Les Boves, Arras

Les Boves are a series of underground quarries that have been turned into the most incredible art galleries. Enjoy a guided tour through the underground maze. This is where the Allied troops took shelter during the World War I Battle of Arras in 1917, and is evocative of that time, as well as pointing towards a new and beautiful future.

Mobilboard Le Touquet

Go for a guided tour with a difference. The area of Le Touquet is a beautiful one, so why spoil it with cars or buses in order to see it? This tour with a difference is all done on Segways, so it’s a completely green, environmentally friendly way to see the area at its finest!

Have fun in the sand dunes on the beach getting the hang of the strange new machinery, and then go out into the village itself to explore all the side streets and hidden places you might normally have missed on any other tour.

Aquarium Nausicaa

This huge aquarium is a different kind of day trip. The sea creatures within Nausicaa are fascinating to watch, and there are daily sea lion and seal shows, as well as penguin feeding, to enjoy as well. The biggest attraction on the site, however, has to be the “A Bord De La Thallassa” exhibition. Enter this ship within a building and discover what it really feels like to sail the ocean waves!

See the sharks, turtles, and numerous varieties of fish up close as you make your way through this informative and interesting space. There is a café on site, and a fun gift shop, and although parking can be limited in the aquarium itself, there are plenty of other car parks in the vicinity (although you will need to pay for these).

If you need to leave the aquarium, your ticket will still be valid for the day, so don’t forget to have your hand stamped on the way out.

Calais Lighthouse

For something truly different, why not climb 51 metres into the air to get the most extraordinary view over the English Channel? That’s exactly what you can do at the Calais Lighthouse. This 19th century construction has a 271 step spiral staircase, so is not suitable for everyone, but once you have made it to the top the views are spectacular.

On a clear day it is even possible to see the White Cliffs of Dover, which are 26 miles (about 42 kilometres) away from where the lighthouse stands. The great thing about the Calais lighthouse is that it is still lit up at night, even though it is well inland due to the area having been developed over the years. It’s not a full day out, but it’s a fun hour to be had (and good exercise too!).

Hotels

According to TripAdvisor there are over 225 hotels within this region of France so there's plenty of choice to suit all budgets and tastes. Here are a couple of suggestions you might consider.

The Nouveau Caddy Hotel in Le Touquet is within walking distance of the beach and restaurants, and the hosts and staff are exceptionally friendly. You’ll feel completely at home here, whilst not spending a fortune to enjoy it. Despite the hotel being fairly basic, there is a well stocked bar and the rooms are certainly pleasant for a short stay.

The L’Escale Hotel, Escalles, is a lovely, beautifully kept hotel – the outside is a riot of colourful flowers at the right time of year – with great rooms and comfortable beds. Could you ask for more? Perhaps not, but you will receive it. The on-site restaurant is excellent, and has a varied menu including a child’s version. The food is good and fresh and the waiting staff are happy to entertain the kids at the table. A lovely stay and a great atmosphere.

Although the building is an older one, the facilities at Coq Hôtel, Montreuil Sur Mer, are most definitely up to date in this great little hotel. The restaurant serves traditional French cuisine, and is good value. Even more helpfully, the Coq Hotel offers triple and family rooms so that everyone can stay together for a bargain price!

Restaurants

Dining out during a break away is all part of the fun, and something that should make your trip more memorable, for all the right reasons. Here are some suggestions.

It’s not just the food that makes a restaurant family friendly; it’s the service too. So at La Petite Brocante (Wimille) the fact that you have both is a bonus. No one will go away hungry when you choose to eat here. Another plus point is that it is close to the Channel Tunnel, so even if you are only in the area for a day or a few hours, you can still enjoy the delicious food.

The O Komparaz (Boulogne sur Mer) is a colourful, family friendly restaurant that serves fabulous burgers, fries, pizzas, and pasta. It’s ideal for taking the children out for a filling meal, and the price is right too. Rather surprisingly, you can even order cocktails here!

Awarded the Certificate of Excellence in 2014, the Le Clos de la Prairie is an exquisite fine dining restaurant that offers locally produced fresh ingredients put together in surprising and unique ways. The menu may be small, but it is perfectly formed and the food is lovingly presented.

With delicacies such as hot oysters, fried foie gras, monkfish tagine, rack of lamb in mustard, and iced soufflé with Grand Marnier, there’s not much to dislike about the sensational and very special Aquar’aile restaurant in Calais. In fact, there is nothing at all to dislike – it’s fabulous! The views overlooking the Channel are superb, and really complete the ambience.

Family travel

This often missed area of France is great for families. Whether it’s the history, the architecture, the food, or the fun and games that have prompted your arrival, the family friendly atmosphere will make you feel at home, and the knowledgeable locals will be pleased to meet you.

There are many scenic walking routes around this part of northern France, as well as numerous sporting activities including golf, cycling, and even Segway riding through the forests and along the beaches. For those who prefer a more sedate holiday, the museums (including the Museum of Natural History) are a wonder. And when it’s animals you’re after, there is a large zoo and a brilliant aquarium.

Handy information

Where you will dock

Ferries dock at the terminal north of Calais. It's around a 2 miles (about 3 kilometres) walk into the heart of the town, and a bit longer if you are driving there.

The port of Calais is a 26 miles (about 42 kilometres) journey by ferry from the port of Dover. It's a very popular shipping route with a mixture of leisure passengers and haulage passengers occupying the ships on each crossing. Competition is fierce on this route with many lines operating services here.

The port itself has great road links around the top and to the east of the town which lead to the central motorway network. It's an expansive site that has many berths available for use. Be sure to follow the signage for your sailing to ensure you arrive at the correct terminal.

Eurotunnel trains emerge at a large railway terminal 10 miles (about 16 kilometres) drive south west of Calais.

Nearest airport

There are no international airports conveniently located near to Calais. Ostend-Bruges International Airport is 61 miles (about 98 kilometres) east of the port and Lille Airport is 80 miles (about 129 kilometres) to the south east.

Nearest railway stations

Calais-Ville Station is the nearest railway station to the Port of Calais. It is around 2 miles (about 3 kilometres) from the terminal.

Currency

The currency used in France is the Euro (€). 100 cents make up 1 Euro. Euro coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents coins. Euro bank notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 values.

The exchange rate is currently around £1 equals €0.00. The rate you get when exchanging currency online or on the high street may differ to this rate as this figure comes courtesy of the European Central Bank. The foreign exchange rate may differ from this so it pays to shop around to get the most currency for your money

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Dover Calais 15 daily 1½ hours See prices °
Dover Calais 21 daily 1½ hours See prices °
Folkestone Calais 47 daily ½ hour See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Sorry, no mini cruise routes can be found sailing to Calais sailing on a cruise ship.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Cruise & Maritime Voyages 2 for 1 sale from £279
  2. 2 for 1 Guernsey mini cruise on Condor Ferries from £32
  3. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp
Tip: This route serves as an alternative route to the Dover to Dunkirk ferry route. Dunkirk is 25 miles (about 40 kilometres) from Calais by road.

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