Calais, with its rich tapestry of history and landscapes, is a treasure trove of activities, even in winter. Have you ever wandered through its historical streets or marvelled at the tapestry of cultural offerings? So let’s get on with sharing ’10 things to do in Calais in the winter, Allez…

Imagine climbing the Calais Lighthouse for a panoramic view that stretches to the White Cliffs of Dover, or exploring the inner workings of lace-making at the Museum of Lace and Fashion. Each step in this coastal town reveals a chapter of its storied past, inviting you to create winter memories that will last a lifetime.

Explore the Calais Beachfront

Have you ever felt the crisp winter air while strolling along a charming beachfront? Calais Beach is a gem that’s not to be missed, especially when the winter waves add a touch of drama to the serene sand dunes.

Things to See and Do:

  • Wander along the sandy stretches; winter often means fewer crowds, giving you plenty of space for contemplation or playful frolics.
  • Explore the dunes that are emblematic of Northern France’s coastline. They’re a stark reminder of nature’s sculpting prowess – even in the chillier months.
  • Snap a photo with the impressive Calais Dragon sculpture, if it’s on display. It’s a conversation starter and a unique blend of art and engineering.

Facilities:

  • Recently refurbished areas mean that even in winter, you might find cosy spots to relax.
  • Large family play areas stay mostly accessible, weather permitting.

Are you a fan of active leisure? You’ll find the skate park often open and waiting for your tricks and turns. And if the cold gets too much, take a brisk walk to feel your cheeks tingle with the winter’s kiss.

Parking Tip: Arrive early – although it’s winter, parking fills up quickly, aiming for before 10:30 am is your best shot for a stress-free start.

Calais Beach in the off-season is about peaceful moments amidst natural beauty, accented by the occasionally lively waves. It’s a perfect mix of tranquillity and activity – something that Calais does so well, don’t you agree? Grab your warmest jacket, and don’t let the winter stop you from enjoying this coastal treasure.

Experience the Calais Lace and Fashion Museum

Fancy delving into a world of elegance and artistry? The Calais Lace and Fashion Museum, nestled inside a genuine nineteenth-century lace factory, is where you’ll unearth the rich tapestry of Calais’ lace-making heritage.

Special Exhibitions

Have you got an eye for the unique? Current exhibits at the Museum of Lace and Fashion are bound to pique your curiosity. Past features like “The Orientalists of Haute Couture” by Lecoanet Hemant give you just a taste of how the museum blends history with contemporary flair. To catch the latest exhibition details, you’ll want to check the museum’s website, as the showcases change periodically to highlight different facets of the lace and fashion world.

Lace-Making Demonstrations

How about watching craftsmanship in action? The museum offers lace-making demonstrations that are sure to captivate. These demonstrations take place weekdays at 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, 3.30 pm, and 4.30 pm, giving you multiple opportunities to see this intricate craft up close.

Practical Information:

  • Location: Calais, inside a historical lace factory
  • Opening Times: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm daily (Closes at 5.00 pm from 1 November to 31 March)
  • Seasonal Changes: Note that it’s closed on January 1st, May 1st, December 25th, and some days in January
  • Admission Prices: Check the museum website for the most current prices
  • Booking and Information: Visit the museum website for tickets and more

Whether you’re a fashion aficionado or a curious traveler, the Calais Lace and Fashion Museum is a testament to the city’s legacy and a marvel waiting for you to explore.

Visit the Calais Lighthouse

Fancy a bit of a climb? Imagine reaching the top and being rewarded with stunning panoramic views. That’s the Calais Lighthouse for you! Let me give you the lowdown on this must-visit spot.

Location & Times:
The Calais Lighthouse sits proudly within Hauts-de-France, a stone’s throw away from the city centre. Check out its towering presence during these hours:

  • Winter Season: Generally open from 10 am to 4 pm, but it’s best to confirm as times may vary.

Tickets & more info:

  • Adults: Visit the Lighthouse website for up to date booking info and details
  • Children: Usually, they get to enjoy lowered rates, if not for free.

A quick word to the wise: it’s a bit of a trek to the top! Wear good walking shoes…

Take in the daily life of fishermen at the bustling fish market, or why not time your visit with local festivals? The area truly comes alive with tradition.

Remember to wrap up warm – it can get blustery up there in winter. But the view? Absolutely worth every step. Don’t forget your camera, because you’ll want to capture the beauty of Calais from the height of this historical beacon. Happy climbing!

Indulge in Local Cuisine

When you’re roaming the cool, cobbled streets of Calais, feeling peckish is inevitable. It’s time to warm your soul with some of the best local dishes around – trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

Seafood Specialties

Craving fresh, succulent seafood? You’re in for a treat. Here’s the catch:

  • Oyster Plates: Strap on your seafood bib and dive into “Le Channel”, sitting at 3 Rue Verte. Their oysters will have you saying “oh la la”! They’re open from 12 PM – 2 PM for lunch and 7 PM – 9 PM for dinner, so plan accordingly. Current prices for oysters start around €15.
  • Moules-Frites: At “La Sole Meunière”, located at 1 Boulevard de la Résistance, you’ll find moules-frites that are a hearty embrace in winter. With the restaurant welcoming guests from 12 PM until 10 PM, there’s plenty of time to pop in. A steaming pot of mussels paired with crispy fries will cost you roughly €12 – definitely a steal.

For further details, booking a spot, or just drooling over the menu, head to their respective websites: Le Channel or La Sole Meunière.

Traditional Pastries

Fancy a sweet treat?

  • Gâteau Battu: This tall, brioche-like beauty is a must. “Aux Gourmandises de Calais” on 26 Rue Royale opens its doors from 7 AM to 7 PM. For around €5, you get a slice of tradition that’s worth every centime.
  • Pain d’Épices: A spiced bread that’ll warm your insides, perfect for those frosty Calais days. “Boulangerie Le Panier à Pain” at 12 Place d’Armes serves this delight from 6:30 AM to 8 PM, with prices sitting pretty at about €3 per loaf.

Check out their offerings or set up a tasting online: Aux Gourmandises de Calais and Le Panier à Pain.

Don’t hesitate to treat yourself – after all, isn’t that what holidays are for?

Stroll Through Parc Saint-Pierre

Fancy a breath of fresh air? Wrap up snug and head over to Parc Saint-Pierre, a serene getaway right in the heart of Calais. The park, established in 1863, owes its name to the historic Quartier Saint-Pierre, which amalgamated with Calais in 1885.

Where to find it:
Nestled by the Calais Town Hall, this picturesque spot is a true urban oasis. It’s an easy find – right at the city centre.

What to expect:

  • Meander along tree-lined paths
  • Relax by the tranquil pond
  • Admire the art, including the renowned Burghers of Calais sculpture by Auguste Rodin
  • Capture moments by the remembrance monument, honouring Calais’ rich history

Hours:
The park welcomes visitors all year round.

Winter Timings:
Daily, dawn till dusk. Do check local listings, as daylight hours may vary.

Cost:
Good news! There’s no charge – admission is free.

Before you go, why not plan a little? Information is a click away: Calais Tourism for any updates on opening times or special events!

Feel free to roam and explore at your leisure – Parc Saint-Pierre doesn’t rush you. And while you’re there, let the history and natural beauty sink in. After all, isn’t a touch of tranquillity exactly what you need on a crisp winter’s day?

Enjoy Seasonal Shopping

Calais transforms into a winter wonderland as the holiday season approaches, offering you a unique mix of festive shopping experiences. From traditional Christmas markets to local artisan shops, you’re in for a treat with the variety of seasonal goods on offer.

Christmas Market

Imagine strolling through a bustling Christmas market, mulled wine in hand, surrounded by twinkling lights and the scent of spiced treats. Calais hosts a delightful Christmas Market at Place d’Armes, usually running from early December to late December. You can wander through the wooden chalets from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, indulging in the seasonal ambiance.

Local Artisan Shops

Calais is also home to unique Local Artisan Shops, perfect for finding that special gift or indulging in regional crafts. One notable stop is the famed Philippe Olivier for its exquisite selection of cheeses.

  • Location: Philippe Olivier, 43 Rue du Marché au Fromage, 62100 Calais
  • Opening Times: Mon-Sat, 9:00 am – 7:00 pm (closed for lunch midday – 2:00 pm)
  • Special Tip: Don’t miss out on the local cheese expertise!

For more in-depth, handcrafted shopping experiences, you might also like to explore shops like Calais Coeur De Vie shopping mall and the historic building that houses Meccano toys and workshops.

  • Calais Coeur De Vie
    • Address: Boulevard Jacquard, 62100 Calais
    • Opening Times: Mon-Sat, 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Meccano Lab
    • Location: In a historic building at the city centre, Calais
    • Opening Times: Weekends and school holidays

Whether you’re in the mood for the communal cheer of a Christmas market or the charm of artisanal treasures, seasonal shopping in Calais is sure to fill your winter holiday with joy and unique finds.

Discover the War Museum

Fancy stepping back in time? The War Museum in Calais is an absolute must-visit! Housed in a former German bunker, this museum captures the essence of World War II’s impact on the region.

Opening Times

  • Daily: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
  • Sundays: Closes at 5.00 pm
  • Winter (09/01 to 04/30): Closes at 5.00 pm

Location: Conveniently nestled in the heart of Calais, it’s a stone’s throw away from other local attractions, perfect for filling your itinerary.

  • Standard Admission: Adults – €5, Concessions – €4
  • Group Admission: By prior arrangement.

Remember, these details might change, so, just to be safe, check out their website before you pop over.

Website: Calais War Museum

The stark contrast between the historical significance of this site and Calais’ bustling streets will certainly leave an impression. You’ll find exhibitions that thoughtfully present life during the occupation alongside military artefacts. It’s a poignant reminder of the resilience of this coastal town during tough times.

Whether you’re a history buff or just looking to enrich your visit to Calais with a touch of the past, the War Museum is an engaging stop. Pop in and uncover the stories woven into the very fabric of this region. After all, who doesn’t appreciate a dose of history with their travels?

Take a Day Trip to Cité Europe

If you’re after a spot of retail therapy, Cité Europe is your go-to destination in Calais. Fancy the idea of exploring over 120 shops under one roof? You’re in luck! Whether you’re hunting for fashion, electronics, or souvenirs, this international shopping centre has it all.

Here’s the deal:

  • Location: Just off the A16 motorway, adjacent to the Channel Tunnel terminal.
  • Standard Opening Times: Shops are generally open from 10:00 to 20:00.
  • Seasonal Hours: Some stores may extend their hours during the winter holiday season.

Always dreamed of a French hypermarket experience? Carrefour within Cité Europe is an adventure in itself. Imagine aisles after aisles of gourmet cheeses, wines, and fresh produce. It’s open from 09:00 to 22:00, so there’s plenty of time to fill up your trolley!

Need a break from shopping? Cité Europe isn’t just about retail:

  • Cinema: Catch the latest releases in the 12-screen cinema.
  • Bowling Alley: Strike! Challenge friends or family to a fun game.
  • Gourmet City: Indulge in a divine array of restaurants and sample multicultural cuisines.

For families, there’s something for everyone.

Remember, prices can vary, but for a day out, the value is in the variety and experience. Make sure to check their website for up-to-date admission prices, if applicable, and any special events.

Heading over? Simply visit www.citeeurope.com for booking and further information. Why not plan your visit around festive seasons when special activities might be on offer? Now, how about making a day of it and enjoying a truly European shopping experience?

Attend a Winter Festival

Have you ever fancied wrapping up warm and stepping out into a winter wonderland? In Calais, the festive season brings a Winter Festival that shouldn’t be missed. Picture this: twinkling fairy lights lining the streets, the aroma of mulled wine, and the sound of live music filling the air.

Where? Get your festivities started at the heart of the city. Most winter festivities take place near the Town Hall of Calais, an architectural gem in itself.

  • Christmas Market:
    • You’ll find an authentic Christmas market bustling with activity here.
    • Hours: Generally, the market opens in early December and runs through the holiday season.
    • Admission: It’s free to explore the market stalls!
  • Events
    • Be sure to check out specific events like the arrival of Father Christmas, parades, and competitions for the best shop decorations.
    • Times: Events typically occur in the evenings, with parades often starting around 5:30 pm.

Seasonal Opening Hours: While Calais embraces the festive spirit throughout December, individual event times can vary. It’s best to check online in advance to plan your visit perfectly.

Booking? Great news, most outdoor events are free and don’t require booking! For particular events within venues, visit Calais Côte d’Opale Tourisme website to find out more and secure your spot.

  • Further Information:

Have a fantastic festive adventure and who knows, you might even bump into a dragon amidst the celebrations – only in Calais, right? Enjoy the wintry magic!

Nick Garnett
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I've been travelling since the 70's and have visited over 30 countries, but, and it's a big but, my heart has always been in the French countryside. So much so that 15 years ago, my wife Charlotte and I bought a little hamlet house in central France and haven't been anywhere since, except for the odd trip to the Polish steppes (don't ask why, it's complicated). FiftyFrance is an expression of our deep and abiding love for France and her people.

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