Discovering Jersey: Channel Islands, UK.
by Sarah Loughlin
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Jersey has a fascinating history. It is part of a small group of islands 14 miles off the coast of France, known as the Channel Islands or the Iles Anglo-Normandes in French. Once part of Normandy, a region of France, it was often caught in the middle of battles and invasions between the two countries and eventually became a part of England in 1204.
The island still has a heavy French influence, the local language Jèrriais, which has become less widely spoken over the years, is a variation of the old Norman French, and the village and road names still keep their French heritage.
The island has spectacular natural scenery with rugged cliffs, deserted white sandy beaches and beautiful blue oceans. Less than an hours flight from London, or a short Ferry trip from St Malo it is very easy to include Jersey on your tour of Europe.
Where to stay in Jersey
By far the best type of accommodation in Jersey is camping! Even if you are traveling light, most campsites offer Glamping in readymade tents with everything you need for the perfect stay. This is a great option to make the most of your trip without having to carry around your own tent! At Beuvelande Campsite you will find real beds, sheets, BBQ’s and cooking equipment. There is nothing better after a day of exploring the island than relaxing by the pool or settling in for good BBQ! TOP LOCAL TIP: Keep an eye out for Hedge Veg, roadside stalls with honesty boxes where you can pick up locally grown fruit and veg dirt cheap. Make sure to keep some coins handy in the car! If you are there at the right time of year try the local specialty, Jersey Royal Potatoes.
If camping isn’t your idea of fun there are plenty of other accommodation options on the Island including the Famous Pomme D’or Hotel, which was the site of the Liberation Day Celebrations at the end of WWII when the British freed Jersey from German occupation.
How to get around Jersey
There are a lot of transport options in Jersey, despite being a small, largely rural island the bus service is great. It runs very regularly and has a fantastic website with a journey planner and live arrival times.
However if you do plan to camp, or go to a few of the lesser-known beaches, it is best to hire a car. There are several companies based at the airport, so jump online before you arrive to find the best price and make a reservation. TOP LOCAL TIP: Most car parks in Jersey require a paycard, you can pick these up at local shops. This fabulous island wide system means you don’t need to worry about having the correct change for the parking meter, just scratch off the date, pop the card on your dashboard and your good to go!
Things to do in Jersey
One of the best things about an island as small as Jersey is that pretty much everywhere is on the beach! If you like surfing head to St Ouen’s Bay, here you can hire a board for £5 from Laneez surf shop. The un-crowded beach break is perfect for beginners and experienced surfers alike, Laneez also offer lessons if you want to give it a got for the first time! After a morning surf head to the Mexican inspired El Tico’s for lunch, or wander 10 minutes down the beach to Big Verns for a slap up breakfast!
Other great beaches on the island include St Brelade, this is more typical of your English beachside town, with a promenade selling ice creams and souvenirs, plus plenty of water sports on the beach. The Sir Winston Churchill park overlooking the beach is a fantastic place for a picnic. If you fancy a walk take the cliff path east to Beauport beach, this small, secluded bay is magnificent with imposing cliffs and breath-taking views. The walk is steep and uneven in places, so not suitable if you have a buggy or elderly companions.
Cliff walking is one of the main attractions on the island, every year there is an event organised to raise money for local Jersey charities where islanders walk the 48 miles of cliff path around the circumference of the island. Starting before dawn, the whole route takes around 18 hours! For just a short section of the path drive to Bouley Bay and walk east towards Rozel. Stop in at the Rozel Tea Room and enjoy afternoon tea in the charming courtyard garden. By far the tastiest and best value on the island, the owner is very friendly and loves to give local hints and tips about whats going on!
If you fancy another active adventure hire a bike from Zebra in St Helier and cycle along the oceanfront towards St Aubin. From here follow the cycle path along the old train track through the forest and after about 30 minutes you will reach La Corbière Lighthouse. Make sure to stop along the way and grab a Jersey Dairy ice cream, made on the island with milk from the famous Jersey cows! The journey to this iconic Jersey landmark whether by bike or foot is almost as good at the destination itself. On the way back to St Helier stop at Pizza Quarter in Bel Royal, this oceanfront kiosk sells the best pizza in Jersey and you can eat it looking out over the bay, definitely a good option if you are on a budget as you can bring your own beer.
A visit to Jersey is not complete without spending time in St Helier, Jersey’s main town. Packed with shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, St Helier is the liveliest place on the island. Jersey is well-known for its fantastic food hand has many Michelin Star restaurants. A short distance from town Bohemia a Michelin star establishment offers a 3 course lunch for £24.95, a bargain for the amazing food and fantastic service. If you are looking for some entertainment head to the Savoy for the Saturday night jazz and dinner which is £17 per person for 2 courses. After dinner why not go for a drink at Banjos, or the try out the cocktails at The Blind Pig, a prohibition style bar accessed via a secret door in a backstreet.
If you are in Jersey during rugby season make sure to check out one of the local games. There is also a horse racing track with regular meets, the small informal environment is fantastic! Take a picnic, a bottle of prosecco and settle in on the hill to watch the racing, or wander through the warm-up area to see these impressive horses up-close! Jersey is lucky enough to have many well-known comedians and musicians come to the island, the venues are small and the tickets reasonable. Have a look in advance to see if there is an event on while you are there at either the Jersey Opera house or Fort Regent.
If you are interested in WWII history Jersey is a fascinating place to visit, The War Tunnels, dug by the Germans to create an underground hospital during the occupation have been turned into a museum which explains the islands experiences during the war. Make sure to schedule in an hour or two to have a good look around. This is a great activity if you are unfortunate enough to get a bit of rain!