After Brexit, Calais hopes to see the rebirth of duty free and “one day trips”



From the Lockwoods bay window, you can see the ferries on their way to England off the coast. The British coast is only twenty kilometers away, and in this elegant house in white and blue bricks which borders the beach of Calais, we like to remember the not so distant time when the cousins ​​of Birmingham and other English crossed the Channel paying money. 10 francs round trip, to go rob the merchants of the city of wine, beer and tobacco, without forgetting to lock a few mugs in the process. It was before 1999 and the closure of Duty Free… A lucrative era for which the Brexit, which entered into force on January 1, has intensely revived nostalgia.

“This lost manna, everyone hopes to find it, me first”, frankly admits Jacques Gounon, the boss of Getlink (ex-Eurotunnel). “Before the duty free was stopped, there were a million cars going back and forth each year during the day, which the tunnel allows, just to buy wine, beer and tobacco, which are still cheaper today than in England ”. And if we are, today, so nostalgic in Calais for these “One day trip” immortalized by the great British photographer Martin Parr, it is because for a time they made the fortunes of local businesses today tested by the migratory crisis, then the pandemic.

Hoping to rekindle the flame of our neighbors across the Channel, the town hall of Calais tried, last summer, to “draw lots” for 1,000 years.

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