Last week I took a couple of days out to make a flying visit to Jersey. It would be my first stay in the Channel Islands and I was looking forward to what the long weekend would bring. I stayed at the 3-star Hotel Du Normandie along the seafront in St Saviour on the south coast.
The location was ideal, within walking distance to the beach and neighbouring St Helier, with a lovely bar and restaurant opposite as well. Having arrived late into the evening, there was ample time to enjoy a quick tipple before bed and come morning I would witness the true beauty my surrounds; strolling along the elongated sands, surveying the rocky outcrops that littered the shallows of the azure waters beyond. As I quickly discovered these picturesque alcoves and temperate shorelines are undoubtedly the best thing about Jersey.
Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands and encompasses 45 square miles, approximately a 3rd of which is said to be utilised for the agricultural growth of its finest export, the Jersey Royal (potato). The landscape itself is varied with flatter plains along the southern shores, and more twists and hills across the north. The climate is moderate and in the summer months the island sees high temperatures, which not only makes for pleasant bathing conditions, but fertile soil for the island’s rich produce, like milk and butter; creating luxurious ice-cream, as well as proving the perfect accompaniment for those deliciously soft spuds.
The island and its neighbouring states hold a great maritime history, playing a crucial defence throughout the previous World Wars. As standing testament you can find many forts and offshore castles just waiting to be explored. Be aware that some of these, like Elizabeth Castle in St Helier, have tidal causeways and may require access by boat at high tide. These really are the most enchanting ruins at any time of day, but are particularly special during one of Jersey’s famous sunsets. You can also find further hints to the past underground such as the exhibition of Jersey’s War Tunnels.
No matter where you are on the island you are sure to find delightful delicacies from both the island and the near-by continent. There is a charming combination of mixed cultures and languages found in Jersey, with English, French and Italian influences all residing as one. This influential infusion is reflected in the choice of food and there are no shortage of good restaurants to choose from, though many edge towards the expensive end of the spectrum. I tried to alter meals to fit my own budget, but no matter what you expenditure is, you should certainly sample the locally caught seafood, delivered fresh to your plate from the Jersey’s golden shores.
Jersey is large enough that you could easily spend a week exploring various parts, however if you’re like me and struggle to stay in one place too long then there are also lots of boat-trips that allow you to escape to the diverse collection of Channel Islands i.e. Sark; a remote land mass where motor vehicles are strictly prohibited and the only way to explore is either on foot or by old-fashioned horse and cart. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the nearby continent and take the western shores of Brittany, France
Historical Sites: Elizabeth Castle, St Helier and Mont Orgueil Castle, Gorey
Entertainment: Treat yourself to a show at the Jersey Opera House
Relaxation: Indulge your senses at the Lavender Farm or visit La Mare Wine Estate
Beaches: (seafood) St Brelade’s Bay, (bathing) Bouley Bay, (afternoon tea) Rozel Bay
Day-trips: Visit the neighbouring islands of Sark or Guernsey, or take the ferry to France