Bonjour Calais!

So how is Calais like? I wondered as we came off from A26 and followed road signs for the city centre. Until the previous evening, we never thought about visiting the place at all. However, we were intrigued by the news programme we watched on TV while we were chilling out in our room at Reims. The topic was about how the Calais tourist board were launching a new campaign to attract more visitors to the city. ‘Shall we see the place since we have more than a few hours to kill before returning to the U.K?’

On our way to the old city centre, we skirted around the Eurotunnel compound. I must say, the security around the complex was much tighter than the last time I saw it. All those high fences and barbed wires meant to be a deterrent to illegal immigrants around the port? They looked like perimeter fences of a high-security prison.

So where is the actual city centre?

In our sight, there was a tall pointed tower which looked like a church’s. Is it a cathedral or something? In order to get ourselves to there, I pulled in our car to one of the parking bays and googled with keywords, such as Calais town centre, Calais shopping, Calais downtown, etc. However, the search didn’t hit anything obvious except Calais Town Hall.

Ok then, we start from there. We headed to the town hall…

After negotiating unexpectedly heavy traffic and a series of roundabouts in quick succession, we arrived at the town hall. ‘So this is it, then.’ We parked the car and stepped out into the bright sunshine of high noon.

Mum and the town hall…

The city hall was very pretty. They had a well-tended garden and a proper old-fashioned Routemaster double-decker bus which was displayed as a garden ornament.
I imagine that the visitors from the U.K must be very important to the city’s economy, despite acrimony and suspicion brewed up between two countries during the recent refuges crisis. However, the British currency has become significantly weaker since Brexit and as a result, shopping at Calais is no longer very attractive for the Brits, and it must be hurting the Calais’ trades badly too.

Shall we drive around the city and see if we find anything interesting along the way? We climbed back into the car and followed the local traffic for a while…

Sadly, we didn’t come across anything inviting or remarkable while we cruised through the city.
Having said that, we saw small groups of young African men frequently. They seemed to be wandering around on the streets without any aim and all of them were carrying duffle bags over their shoulders. ‘Are these people the remnants of the infamous Jungle?’, mum and I wondered as we drove past them…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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