Calais is a city located in the French departement of Nord-Pas de Calais. It is the closest port in France to England and has been a long time-binding factor for trade and tourism between the two European countries. The Strait of Dover, which lies across the English Channel on the United Kingdom mainland, is as close as 32km to Calais. In fact, Calais was a British territory for many centuries before it became part of Northern France. On a clear day, Dover's famous white cliffs can easily be viewed from Calais and the French coast can also be seen from those very cliffs too (weather permitting of course).
The city is separated into two parts: the old town and the modern town. Calais-Nord, the old town is located on a man-made island bordered by canals and harbours. The other part, i.e. the modern town, known as St-Pierre, lies to the south. There are regular cross-channel ferry services connecting the popular ports of Dover and Calais. Making a short crossing to France over the English Channel is a favourite lunchtime destination for the British population in the south-east of England. The main reason for this is that France levies lower taxes on alcohol and tobacco and therefore you can find a lot of stores that supply drinks and cigarettes at a cheaper price.
Calais is not just famous for being an important port connecting France and England, but also as a developing tourist centre with its rich cultural heritage, museums, French gastronomic delights, a spirited nightlife and its Belfries, (siege towers constructed to protect the town from invasions), which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
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