A School Trip to the Opal Coast

A school trip that takes you on a quick hop across the English Channel to the Opal Coast in France is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the culture, language, and history of the area. The Opal Coast is the area in the north of France that stretches for 26 miles between Calais and Boulogne-Sur-Mer. The region played an important role in the wars, and today you can visit the various battlefields and see the locations where so much of the conflict took place. The main city that overlooks this lovely stretch of coastline is Calais – and some time spent here is a great way to start any visit to this part of northern France.

History of Calais

As a major town and ferry port on the Opal Coast of France, Calais has a history that dates back to the Roman settlement of Caletum. On a school trip to the city, you can unravel the history of the region. During the Medieval ages, the English fought over the town as it was the closest landing point to England and a valuable in-road to Europe for trade. Due to its location, Calais was often on the frontline for war, such as in the Napoleonic Wars, and at the end of 1918, Great Britain used Calais as its stronghold in post-Waterloo France. During World War II, the city of Calais was the site of the German siege of Calais and was virtually destroyed.

Seeing the Sights in Calais

When visiting the city on your school trip, make your way to the Place d’Armes – one of the largest squares in the city, and its heart during medieval times. The stunning Hôtel de Ville at Place du Soldat Inconnu should not be missed. Its Flemish, Renaissance façade was built in the years between1911 to 1925, and the 74-metre belfry can be seen from out at sea. It has been protected by UNESCO, since 2005, as part of a series of protected belfries throughout the region. From the Hôtel de Ville head to the Avenue Roger Salengro to see the Citadel of Calais, which was built between 1560 and 1571 to fend off potential invaders. Next, look out for the Tower de Guet, or Watch Tower, which is situated in the Calais Nord and is one of the city’s surviving pre-war buildings. It dates from 1229 as part of the fortifications of the city. From the forts and towers to the arts and history: Calais has many cultural aspects for students on a school trip to explore too. Visit the World War II Museum, at Parc St Pierre, housed in a former Nazi military bunker and WWII stronghold. Calais also offers a variety of theatre options such as Le Théâtre Municipal, Le Centre Culturel Gérard Philipe, and Le Conservatoire à Rayonnement Départementa, among others.