Xavier Lesiuk – Calais
History is best retold through small intimate stories
« I’m a Calais boy through and through » says Xavier Lesiuk. « The thing that really interests me about Calais is its potential for tourism that has still yet to be fully developed. » Xavier is a guy with contacts. For many years he ran a brasserie on Boulevard La Fayette, which was a popular spot with English and Dutch visitors. « If I’d carried on running that brasserie, I’d speak fluent Dutch by now. »
Xavier isn’t lacking in motivation. A graphic designer by day, he’s a local history enthusiast by night. This Greeter is part of the Amis du Vieux Calais Association. « The city is brimming with anecdotes. You can enjoy a two hour walk or a bike tour and discover just a few of them. »
You could, for instance, set off from the mayor’s office where Xavier can tell you the history of the bell tower that is listed as World Heritage by UNESCO or the story of the famous Six Burghers that proudly stand in front of the town hall, before taking a trip back to the 1939/1945 era and remembering to touch on the town’s lace industry, which nowadays boasts its very own museum.
Take a dose of nature by stopping at the beach, a spot of culture as you check out the block houses and the former homes of the lace workers, a glimmer of romance by looking at the wedding of General de Gaulle at the church of Notre-Dame…It’s a really varied programme. He adds his own little anecdotes: « My grandmother and grandfather were named Charles and Yvonne too. They were married on the same day as the General! »
This Carnival lover is determined to debunk the prejudices that often exist about his beloved city. He loves taking visitors to the maritime Courgain quarter, a spot that is fascinating, lively and charged with history. What’s more, Xavier knows all the best places to eat in Calais. You can follow him, even with your eyes closed!