Northern France Tourism : official website

Panoramic view of the vast beach at Calais

Calais and lace, a great history

For those of you who cannot imagine lingerie without lace, here is the history of lace in Calais. It goes back to the beginning of the 19th century when two Englishmen avoiding customs duties landed at Calais. They were skilled in working with tulle. This activity developed very quickly. In particular, manufacturing techniques evolved because of the invention of the steam engine and the Jacquard system which revolutionised the textile industry. The Leavers loom, the most well known, enables lace to be produced mechanically and look as if it is hand-made. In less than a century Calais was thus transformed into the capital of machine-manufactured lace. Once it had become the pride of French craftsmanship, Calais lace was essential for fashionable underwear and dresses made by top designers.

Fine lingerie and Calais lace gowns
  • Fine lingerie and Calais lace gowns on show at Calais’ Centre for Lace and Fashion
  • © Anne-Sophie Flament

More than a museum: a "city" of lace

Proud of its know-how and the reputation of its lace throughout the world, Calais does not devote a museum to the subject, rather a whole"city". You will be fascinated as soon as you see the building which alone is worth the trip: a extension to a former 19th century lace factory, it is built of steel and glass panes designed to resemble Jacquard boxes. It traces the history of lace and its manufacturing techniques. A real journey back in time featuring Leavers looms in operation. It is also a very modern location and meeting place which caters for fashion parades in its auditorium, large-scale temporary exhibitions, and organizes starter workshops in lace-making... The height of modernity is the 3D changing room. Don't delay - visit now!

External view of the Centre for Lace and Fashion
  • External view of the Centre for Lace and Fashion
  • © Anne-Sophie Flament

Calais takes centre stage thanks to Le Channel

Every year, Calais lives to the rhythm of events, shows and artistic performances organized by Le Channel, the town's national theatre. Set up after refurbishment of what had formerly been slaughterhouses, the location is unique. Much more than a playhouse, it is a highly original meeting place with a bistro, restaurant, and hotel for performers and artists. Its book shop, Actes Sud, has become a cultural institution. With 14,000m2 of spaces, each more original than the others, it can accommodate any type of event. At the entrance to the site, the belvedere sets the tone, this former water tower offers panoramic views over the town and its surroundings but is sometimes used, for example, for firework displays. Le Channel also organises events off-site

View over Le Channel from the top of the belvedere
  • View over Le Channel from the top of the belvedere
  • © CRT Nord-Pas de Calais

Between town and sea

Where would Calais be without the famous bronze statue of the 6 townsmen who take centre stage in front of the majestic Town Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage site? It was created by Auguste Rodin in 1895 to pay tribute to the 6 worthies who were ready to sacrifice themselves to save the town, besieged by the English during the Hundred Years War. There are 12 copies of this statue across the world, all cast using the same mould. Close by, the Museum of Fine Arts honours the famous sculptor; it also has a rich permanent collection of works by international artists. After all this culture, it only remains for you to stroll along the beach at Calais, ideal for children or water sports lovers, and then enjoy the restaurants on the sea front.

Statue of the 6 townsmen of Calais in front of the Town Hall
  • Statue of the 6 townsmen of Calais in front of the Town Hall and its bell tower, UNESCO World Heritage site
  • © Anne-Sophie Flament