Places to visit | Local area map

Les Trois Pays
Ardres, Guines, Licques

The Lake at Ardres - made by peatdiggers, digging out the marshes for fuel.
In the centre of Ardres: the Place au Bois

In the hills near Calais
You're standing by a peaceful tree-lined lake not far from Calais. Behind you is the flat coastal marshland. On the other side of the lake, the chalk hills begin to rise (they'd be called "Downs" if you were in England) - and on the lower slopes of the hills is the historic small town of Ardres.

When you've climbed into Ardres, you catch glimpses of the flat coastal plain below, looking over to Calais and the Channel.

An area much fought over
The towns of "les Trois Pays" have been fought over for centuries.

The English occupied Calais from 1347 to 1558 - a bridgehead on the other side of the Channel. English kings clung onto this possession as a base for trade with the Continent, and from which to send their armies into Continental wars.

Nearby Guines was for over 200 years within the English "Pale" of Calais. Ardres was the first town in the French king's lands, whilst Licques was actually part of Spanish Flanders!

A peaceful canal-side bike ride
If you're riding a bike or walking, a very pleasant way of getting out to Guines and Ardres from Calais is along the tow-path of the canal. This runs inland from the harbour, and goes all the way to Saint-Omer and Lille - in fact you can cross France to the Mediterranean by following the banks of the canal if you want to.

Chappelle des Carmes 
Ardres:1.17th century Chapelle des Carmes
2. l'Eglise Notre Dame de Grâce

Ardres - an historic town in the hills overlooking the coastal marshlands round Calais, with an ancient market still heldevery Thursdayit has won awards in France's annual "Ville Fleurie" competition.

Walking round the small town, you'll see the 17th century Chapelle des Carmes. Built in 1679 on a hillside street, the Carmelite convent has been used as a town hall and a market hall - it's now the Office de Tourisme.

The town's church - Eglise Notre Dame de Grâce - has often been damaged and rebuilt in the wars that repeatedly ravaged this region.

Just below the town is the Lake, where you can enjoy fishing and boating.

Back to top | Places to visit

Guines: Annual festival commemorating the "Field of the Cloth of Gold" - Camp du Drap d'Or.

Guines - in 1520 Henry VIII of England sailed from Dover to Calais at the invitation of François I of France - who hoped they could make an alliance against the Spanish.

Henry stayed in Guines, the border town of English Calais; François I stayed in French Ardres. Lavish tents were set up in a field in "no man's land" in the middle - the celebrated "Field of the Cloth of Gold". Here they met - and showed off! - for several days at near the village of Guines. But negotiations were fruitless and they never became allies.

Back to top | Places to visit

Licques: Just before Christmas, there's a famous procession of turkeys through the streets

Licques - the village is celebrated for producing traditionally-reared free-range poultry - especially turkeys. The specially bred birds were brought back from Latin America by the Spanish, and first farmed by monks. They are a favourite French delicacy at Christmas time - prized for their flavour.

Back to top | Places to visit

Web links and more information - Ardres and area, unofficial site

Local area map
Calais area map
Click on places for more information
Where to eat in Ardres and Guines - we recommend:
La Bonne Auberge
clipboard helper
QUICK TOUR round the Côte d'Opale, starting with Nausicaa...

Places to visit
Saint Joseph's Village - rural crafts, just outside Guînes
Lace Museum - Calais
Lemonade Factory - Hardinghen nr. Guînes
Maison du Marbre - museum of marble & geology, near the quarries of Marquise
Citadelle - the line of defences round Calais

Background information:
Relations with the English
Field of the Cloth of Gold 1520



Saint-Omer Last updated 27th March 2000 © Copyright Invicta Media 1999-2000