France, in the département of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sous-préfecture. Population 80,000. It was the last French possession of England.
Situated at the Strait of Dover, the city is major harbour, with among others ferry connections with Dover and other English towns. The French end of the Channel Tunnel is also situated in the vicinity of Calais, in Sangatte. There is a large shopping complex targeted at the British market, viable particularly since various items (such as cigarettes and alcoholic beverages) are cheaper in France for tax reasons. Such day trippers are colloquially known as "booze cruisers".
The main square features a copy of the statue The Burghers of Calais (French Les Bourgeois de Calais), by Auguste Rodin.
In 1347, it was taken by Edward III of England, after a siege of eleven months. King Edward was very angry because the people had held out so long, and he wanted them all to be killed. He agreed to spare them on the condition that six of the principal citizens would come to him, bareheaded and barefooted and with ropes around their necks, and give themselves up to die. When they came, he ordered that their heads should be struck off, but he pardoned them when his queen, Philippa of Hainault, fell in tears at his feet and begged of him their lives. He drove out most of the French, however, and settled the town with people from England, so that he might always have a door into France. It came to be called the "brightest jewel in the English crown." Over one of its gates was inscribed:
- Then shall the Frenchmen Calais win
- When iron and lead like cork shall swim