Pas-de-Calais is the second department composing the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region after the Nord department. The name of the department comes from the strait which separates it from England, ‘Pas’ meaning passage and Calais being the name of the major ferry crossing point between France and England. The department accounts for more than 1,450,000 inhabitants. It is one of the most populated and urbanized French departments. Pas-de-Calais’ préfecture is the town of Arras.
The Pas-de-Calais department has borders with the departments of Nord and Somme ( Picardy ). Along the coast, we can find the English Channel and the North Sea. The main towns of the area are Calais, Arras, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Lens and Lièvin. From the 18th century, the northern part of France was a very important mining area, as well as the eastern part of Belgium, close to the frontier with France. All activities were stopped in the 1990’s.
As regards economy, the major activities of the department were mining, steel and textile industry, but other kind of activities have been developed since the end of the 20th century. Nowadays, the Pas-de-Calais department welcomes varied activities: volume retailing, sales by mail orders, transports, logistics, etc. Thanks to its position close to England and Belgium, the department benefits from European projects such as the Eurotunnel and the LGV (high-speed train lines).
The department has much on offer, amongst others a long and fascinating history and outstanding monuments which result from it: fortified towns, belfries, commemorative monuments for WWI and WWII and so on. Given the proximity of the area with Belgium, many traditions are similar to the neighbouring country ones. Apart from the gastronomy, which has similarities, culture in the north of France is very close to the Walloon area of Belgium (belfries, giant puppets, celebrations, etc). Pas de Calais is a great place for tourism. Whether you like doing cultural tourism, shopping, green tourism or relaxing on the beach, you will find plenty of sites of interest in this department. The coast of the department – or Côte d’Opale - is the most touristy area of Pas-de-Calais with seaside resorts more or less famous such as Le Touquet, Ambleteuse, Berck, Boulogne-sur-Mer or Wissant. The two imposing cliffs of Cap Gris-Nez and Cap Blanc-Nez are simply amazing and offer breathtaking sceneries. The inside of the department is more rural with many small typical villages where you can spend quiet holidays. In the rest of the area, you will find numerous interesting towns such as Arras, Lens, Béthune, etc.
The property market in Pas-de-Calais is pretty expensive. Indeed, in 2009 the average price for the department is €3,723 /square metre, whereas the national average is €3,197 /square metre. As regards rentals, it cost about €12.72 /square metre /month to rent a property there, the national average being €12.22 /square metre /month.
In 2008, the average price in Pas-de-Calais for an apartment to buy was €2,330/ sq m. It was €2,840 /sq m for a new apartment and €144,900 for a house. Prices vary within the department, towns such as Boulogne-sur-Mer and Montreuil-sur-Mer offering more expensive properties.
The great majority of properties in Pas-de-Calais are detached houses (81%), apartments representing only 16% of the total of dwellings. 56% of the inhabitants of the department own their property against 36% who rent it. Why not buy a large farmhouse to renovate or a modern villa in this pleasant and welcoming French area?
To get updated info about property prices in Pas-de-Calais, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Click here to have an overview of Nord Pas de Calais Property Prices.
Too many negative stereotypes are said about the Pas-de-Calais department and north of France in general: bad weather, mining areas, etc. But life is really pleasant in this department and locals are very welcoming. Let’s discover the numerous assets of this area which will definitely seduce you.
Culture and historical heritage: a particularity of the north of France is to have belfries, these towers containing one or more bells which are often attached to a city hall or another civic building. Belfries were built from the 11th to the 17th centuries and have varied architectural styles (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque…). They were symbol of local council liberties. Many towns were almost completely destroyed during WWI and WWII such as Arras, Dunkerque or Bailleul, and belfries were especially targeted by the enemies. Being actual jewels of architecture, many of them were rebuilt identically after being destroyed. Do not miss belfries of Arras, Calais, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Hesdin and Béthune which are listed in the World Heritage of UNESCO. The department boasts wonderful ‘towns of Art and History’ such as Boulogne-sur-Mer and the upper part of the town which is fortified, Saint-Omer and its Gothic cathedral or Arras and its outstanding Flemish squares. As said before, the area suffered a lot from the world wars and commemorative monuments can be found everywhere within the area: Canadian Memorial in Vimy, Basilica in Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, blockhouse in Eperlecques, etc.
Traditions: giant puppets - Les Géants – are definitely an important part of the folklore of northern France. These giant puppets were the symbols of towns and represent either imaginary or historical characters. Fairs, carnivals, medieval and gastronomic celebrations, these giant puppets are shown during all kind of events. They have real names and form ‘families’ and have always existed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Carnivals are also very important in the north of France: Dunkerque’s carnival is the occasion for both locals and visitors to celebrate and dance in the streets during several days. Street markets, flea markets and fairs are also popular in Pas-de-Calais.
Local food: on the gastronomic front, we can find many dishes based on sea food such as fish soup, mussels, eels, carp or herrings cooked with varied ingredients such as vegetables and beer, etc. Waterzoi is a fresh fish stew made with vegetables, cream and any coarse fish: perch, carp, pike… Chitterling sausage, chicories and white sausages are much appreciated in the area. Another typical dish is the carbonnade flamande, containing beef, onions, soft brown sugar and beer. Given its proximity with Belgium, many dishes are similar. Very good beers are also produced in the area.
Tourism and activities: as said before, the department boasts many tourist facilities and places of interest. The Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris Nez are definitely not to be missed. These chalk and clay cliffs are really impressive. Due to their location close to England, they have a long history and suffered from wars. TheCap Gris Nez – 28km from Dover - is a perfect place to observe migratory birds. The Côte d’Opale offers plenty of long sandy beaches as well as a regional nature park (Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale). People can practise all kind of sports in the department: sand-yachting, flying kites, speed-sailing, kite-surfing on the beaches, but also playing golf, tennis, skiing (artificial site in Noeud-les-Mines), canoe-kayaking (Saint-Laurent Blangy), etc. ‘Nausicaa‘ - France’s National Sea Centre in Boulogne-sur-Mer - is also worth visiting.
Location – transport links: Pas-de-Calais has a strategic location as it is very close to England and Belgium. Several European capitals can be reached in a few hours only from the department. The department benefits from the Eurotunnel, the Eurostar but also very good road infrastructures. Harbours of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Dunkerque and Calais are very important, Calais’ sea port being the major European one as regards passengers coming from England. If you prefer travelling by air, take a plane to Paris and then a TGV high-speed train line from the capital to Arras (1h only).
Brick properties: bricks being the major construction material used in the north of France, it is really common to find properties constructed of red or brown bricks. These houses may be located in residential areas, housing estates or in the town centre. So they can be detached, come with a large piece of land and be located in the countryside or be semi-attached or attached and be found in the town centre. The size of such properties vary, they can have 3 rooms, or more than 6 rooms, be single-storey or 3-storey houses, etc. The sloping roof is made of red or brown tiles. For some houses, bricks only compose the lower part of the walls, the remaining part being made of cement or other construction materials. Brick properties have dormer windows or roof windows and may also have bay windows, depending on the location (it is rare for a house in the town centre to have bay windows).
Villas: along the Côte d’Opale, the numerous seaside resorts offer wonderful villas of large dimensions. These properties are located in peaceful areas, sometimes in the forest or close to the beach, offering great sceneries and quietness. Villas are most of the time painted in white or light colours. They come with a large garden and a garage. The properties may be enclosed by a white fence. Villas are featured by numerous rooms which are very bright given the important number of windows or bay-windows of the properties. They are perfect holiday homes but often cost more than traditional houses given their location and modernity.
Farmhouses: in the countryside, farmhouses are numerous. Renovated or not, these properties are very sought-after as they have a lot of character and large dimensions. They come with outbuidlings such as barns or stables. Constructed in bricks or stone, farmhouses have a great value. In the north of France, they have a closed courtyard.
Click here for more info about the Architecture in Nord Pas de Calais.
|Take a closer look at the Pas-de-Calais property market:|
|Arras Property Information||Béthune Property Information|
|Calais Property Information||Montreuil-sur-Mer Property Information|