It was during the 100 year war between France and England, that King Edward III besieged the city of Calais for over 11 months. The people of Calais were near starvation so the governor of the town pleaded to the king to set the people free and take possession of the town and all its riches. King Edward however, would only do this if six prominent and rich citizens of Calais would come out of the city barefooted and bound by ropes, to hand over the keys to the city and surrender themselves to an uncertain fate. The richest merchants of the town, Jean d'Aire, Jacques and Pierre de Wissant, Jean de Fiennes, Andrieus d'Andres and Eustache de Saint-Pierre, came forward to offer themselves up.
The King was persuaded by his wife, Queen Phillipine, and had mercy on them and sent them home.
The figures are of intense emotion, insecurity, fear and bravery all at the same time.
Rodin had meant this group of statues to be placed on the market square of Calais, so that people could walk between them. Placing them all at the same level as living people he wanted to express equality and humility. But the town council decided it should be on the traditional socket.
This is the restaurant we nearly always come to they do a daily luchtime special for about 8 euros, although it is where we normally have moule frites washed down with a Stella Artois or Muscadet at the end of a motoring holiday.
Although there are some good restaurants in Calais we go here unless we want to push the boat out. We have never had a meal we didn't enjoy.
A lot of French people eat here and they don't eat at bad retaurants.
The old center of Calais is surrounded by water. I'm not sure if this was for defense purposes. In any case, this photo was made on the bridge when we walked down Boulevard Richelieu direction south. This is where the train station is and the bus to the ferry.
The TOWN HALL... What a beautiful building, with just as beautiful garden!
When the two cities of Calais and St. Pierre merged in 1885, then they built the town hall of Calais.
It's designed in the neo-Flemish style of the 15th century, a style I rather like.
Work started in 1911, but war in 1914 stopped the building for a while, and then after the war, repair's were needed, so it was 1925 before it was finally finished and ready to be used!
It was again damaged in 1940.
The belfry 75 metres high, is said to contain one of the most beautiful chimes in the north of France, unfortunately, it was "under wrap's."
The Town Hall dominates the main square and can be visited by tourists. I didn't know this at the time, but have read since that it has paintings, stained-glass windows telling the story of the departing English, a grand staircase and beautiful interior in the reception rooms.
OPEN....8am-12 noon and 1.30pm-5.30pm
In front of the Town Hall is a beautiful garden that is worth seeing, and the Monument of the six burgher's.
"They are voluntarily bound to the same sacrifice but each of them plays the role suited to his individuality given his age and position” (Auguste Rodin)
Auguste Rodin’s famous original 19th century life size bronze statue of the Burghers of Calais was sculpted in 1895. The six statues are seen recalling the final year of the 100 Years War, and the moment when Eustache de St Pierre, together with a band of five other prominent citizens, assembled here in 1357 to surrender the keys of the starving city of Calais to King Edward III.
It is a moving sculpture, as the Men are depicted crestfallen and wearing only their shirts turned expecting to be executed.
They were willing to sacrifice their lives to save Calais from being massacred by Edward III.
Their heroism moved the King’s French wife Philippine, to plead for their pardon. Edward bowed to his wife’s wishes and spared the band of six men and the people of Calais.
Take a moment to examine each statue, it is very well done in capturing what the moment would have been like.
The monument by Rodin, was inaugurated on June 3 1895 on the site of the old defences.
I looked at the Jacquard statue and wondered who this person was!
Well, Lyons born Joseph Jacquard (1752-1834), was an inventor of a mechanism consisting of a programmed reproduction of a perforated card which could transfer complicated designs to lace.
Calais, is well known in the Lace industry, and this 1910 statue is in Memory of him and his creation.
The surviving fortifications were all damaged in the Second World War, but substantial remains can be seen today.
We walked around quite a bit of the Citadel and alongside a Canal that follows the line of the ditch surrounding the town.
The area was nicely kept and the fortifications are mostly intact and in good condition.
The Calais citadel was shelled by the British navy during the Second World War, destroying the north wall and all the internal buildings.
The main train station, Calais Ville, lies just to the south of the citadel and the ferry port, for those arriving from the UK, is opposite Fort Risban. Fort Risban and Fort Nieulay are both within 10 minutes walk of the citadel.
All three we could visit FREE!
Once upon a time, this was a very busy market square in medieval Calais!
Then along came the War's, destroying almost everything except a 13th century Watch Tower, [Tour de Guet].
Now day's, this Tower is surrounded by cars or market stands, as during the week the square is used as a car park and every Wednesday and Saturday, it turns into a colourful open air market.
The inner square has many cafe's, shops and is a short walk from the harbour where many restaurants are located.
Calais take a big part in the FESTIVAL DE LA COTE D'OPALE avery year,. It's the good opportunity to go in concert of world knwon music stars (rock - pop - jazz - classic, etc...) like THE CURE, David BOWIE, Ray CHARLES, Sinead O'CONNOR, Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, THE ROLLING STONES, etc...
For some great views over the Channel head for the 19th century 51 metre high lighthouse located in the port of Calais.
Well, we didn't do that, we just admired from the distance. For us older people, seeing the height of the Lighthouse and hearing we would have to climb a spiral staircase of "only" 271 step's to the top!.....
Decision made! No go!
I am sure the view would have been fantastic, but we decided against it!
On a clear day, they say you can see Calais, the Channel and the White Cliffs of Dover 26 miles away.
OPEN.... Wednesday to Monday 10am-12pm and 2pm-5.30pm.
Weekends 10.00am to 12.00noon and 2.00pm to 5.40pm.
ADMISSION.....2.50 Euros. Children 1.50 euro. Under 5 years/ free.
The church was constructed toward the end of the thirteenth century following a strong growth of the population. It's a big Church, that can hold a congregation of 1400 people!
The day we were there, the church was being restored. Inside, nothing was in its' place, instead, all the statue's were standing alongside the Church wall. It didn't matter, at least we were still able to visit the inside!
I noticed the new stained glass window's are in a very modern style.
In 1347 during the Hundred Years War, six leading citizens of Calais volunteered themselves as hostages to the English king Edward III in exchange for his lifting an eleven-month siege on their city. In 1880 the mayor of Calais commissioned this sculpture in 1880, while the six men were saved by the intervention of the English Queen, Auguste Rodin depicted the figures as they prepared for death, walking barefoot with nooses around their neck, carrying the keys to the city.
Calais Beach and West Pier, GOLLY! There were a lot of Sea-side high rise apartment's!
Did you know that Calais is actually a seaside town?
As you can see from my photo's, it is a nice sand beach, and only just 1km from Place D’ Armes.
It looked a well kept seafront with plenty of snack bar's and restaurants.
I am not used to seeing Beach huts, there were dozen's here!
If you are not a real Beach lover,then walk the promenade pier which runs alongside the beach and enjoy views over the harbour.
From the beach a path leads to the 16th century Fort Risban.
A little further along towards Sangatte you will come across the dune lined beach of Bleriot-Plage. Here there is a monument to French aviator Louis Bleriot who successfully pioneered the first ever flight across the English Channel in 1909 to Dover.
I thought this Theatre was beautiful!
Built in 1903 and inaugurated in 1905, this theatre stands on the site of an old Cemetery.
There are statues on the exterior symbolising the four arts: Poetry, Comedy, Dance and Music.
Infront, is a Statue, and a very nice garden.