"Calais is suffocating. The tourists have stopped coming here because all they see on the telly is stories about migrants and they are afraid to come," said Gilles Duvauchelle, the owner of Le Bounty café in the town centre.Several customers at the bar nodded in agreement, with one woman saying that Britons used to come in large numbers to stock up on wine and French food in the hypermarkets on the edge of town. But now they have dwindled to a trickle, she said."The government is incompetent," said Mr Duvauchelle. "When migrant camps build up in Paris they move them on. But when they're here in Calais they don't give a damn," he said.He said he was a truck driver for 20 years and is shocked at what lorry drivers have to put up with now if they arrive in Calais."They get attacked, they get migrants climbing in and the police can do little to stop it because they are overwhelmed by the numbers."
There does not seem to be an obvious solution to this. The comment highlighted above seems to suggest that Calais (for onward travel to England) is not the only part of France being swamped. Recent news reports have also focused on Greek islands and the south of Italy.
This isn't only about border controls. People aren't arriving in neat queues with their documents in hand, they are simply turning up in Europe by the boat-load. We can protect our border slightly better here in Britain, what with having la manche to keep us at arms' length, and by being simply a bit further away from SE Europe and N Africa. But even then we don't know how many are slipping through, and we certainly don't know who they are.
The French unions aren't helping by going on strike the whole time, blocking up the roads with burning tyres and wrecking the ferries they used to work on. Maybe the strikers are reacting to France's sad decline, but they aren't to blame for the thousands of people turning up on Europe's southern shores.
But what on Earth is the answer? Is Simon Danczuk right to say that the problem will persist while Britain is an attractive place to live? Does that mean we have to trash the joint?
Are we surprised that the tourists have stopped coming? Why would you queue up in Folkestone for hours if you had the choice, not knowing whether you were going to get back sensibly? I am certainly not planning another booze cruise for the time being, despite the soft Euro.