7 Calais Statues and the History Behind Them
A weekend getaway to Calais is a popular choice for many down south in England, particularly with the elderly and school children. Often looked at as a place to purchase cheap alcohol, there is a lot more to this northern French town. After a short trip on a Dover to Calais ferry, here are some statues and monuments you will find:
SM Louis XVIII
After you have reached the Calais ferry terminal, one of the first tourist attractions you can aim for is the Lighthouse. Between the tall Lighthouse and Fort Risban you will pass a monument dedicated to the former King of France, Louis XVIII.
Louis XVIII ruled as king of France for just under a decade until his death in September 1824. In 1815, he returned to France as king following the defeat of Napoleon.
This monument was erected following Louis XVIII’s return to France via Calais after the fall of the Empire.
In the garden of Fort Risban you will find the worn monument dedicated to Airman Gilbert Brazy.
Alongside Gilbert Rene Guilbaud, Gilbert Brazy was on a flight back from Tromsø, Norway on 18 June 1928 after an unsuccessful search for Roald Amundsen. The plane never returned and their wreck was found months later.
Gilbert Brazy was awarded in the Legion of Honour and this monument was inaugurated in 1929 in his memory. There is also a street in Calais named after him.
Opposite the Gilbert Brazy monument, in the centre of the roundabout is the Pluviose Monument.
This monument is in honour of the 24 sailors and 3 officers who lost their lives in the terrible disaster of Pluviose. On 26 May 1910 the Pluviose submarine sunk in the English Channel after colliding with the steamer Pas de Calais.
The bronze monument was unveiled on 22 June 1913, the day after the funeral, having been made by sculptor Emile Oscar William. The names of all the victims are engraved.
Outside of the Parc Richelieu stands the Calais War Memorial.
This monument honours the memory of the fallen during World Wars I & II. Peace is represented by the figure clutching an olive tree branch to her breast.
The War Memorial was set up in 1862 and redesigned in 1956.
Six Burghers of Calais
In the front garden of the Town Hall stands the most well-known statue, Rodin’s Six Burghers of Calais.
This statue commemorates an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years’ War. After being under siege by Edward III of England’s army for more than a year, Edward offered to spare the people of Calais if six of its top leaders would surrender to him. Six burghers, led by Eustache de Saint Pierre volunteered, heroically sacrificing themselves for the city.
The bronze masterpiece was erected in 1895 and remains in the front garden of Calais Town Hall today. Other original casts can be found in Paris (France), London (England), New York City (USA), Tokyo (Japan) and Seoul (South Korea) amongst other cities.
Across the road from the Town Hall, and opposite the Six Burghers stands the Remembrance Monument, outside Parc Saint Pierre.
In honour of the people of Calais whose lives were taken in colonial expeditions, at the top of this monument stands Captain Louis Dutertre, who was taken prisoner by Abd el-Kader in front of his troops and threatened with beheading before ordering his troops not to surrender before being shot and beheaded.
This monument was inaugurated in 1904.
Standing on the square opposite to the entrance of the Calais Theatre is a statue of Joseph Marie Jacquard, famous for his contribution to the development of lace.
Jacquard was the inventor of a mechanism which could transfer complicated designs onto lace, making him a popular figure in Calais as well as making the city known worldwide for its lace industry.
The statue of Jacquard was erected in 1910, designed by the sculptor Marius Roussel.