Jersey...A short hop to a gem in the Atlantic
Located just off the coast of France but attached to the British crown, Jersey is the biggest of all the Channel Islands. It sits just 14 miles off the French coast and is also 100 miles from the south coast of England and EasyJet fly daily from London Luton Airport in a flight time of just 40 minutes. We paid £80 each return with a luggage allowance of 23kgs. There are now 1.4 million passengers per year using the airport. On previous occasions when visiting the island we have taken the ferry which takes about 8 hours and the faster catamaran at about 4 hours. The largest of the Channel Islands is just 9 miles by 5 miles, so you are never far away from a beach and you can comfortably visit all the locations in a week.
We also hired a rental car from Avis, a nippy little Fiat 500...the island is full of them, probably because of their small size and economy to run. We were met at the arrivals hall by an Avis agent and taken a short 10 minute drive to their offices where we collected the recently valeted car. We opted to pay the additional excess waiver of £10 per day to avoid the £1000 excess, there are a lot of country lanes on Jersey and it would be so easy to clip another car. You will be pleased to hear that in Jersey you drive on the left as in the UK and the maximum speed limit on the island is 40mph. There are also 'Green Lanes' where the maximum speed limit here is 15mph and the right of way is given to those walking, cycling or riding horses. You will also probably come across the 'filter in turn' rule, we encountered a couple around St Helier where as you approach one, priority is given to traffic on your right. After they have made their move it is then your turn and traffic on your left will yield to you. I must admit once you are aware of how it works, it is very efficient at keeping the traffic moving especially during rush hour. One other item of note are the parking requirements. For the car parks and on street parking you use either a yellow disc or paycard, which we purchased from the local convenience store. We bought a small booklet for about £10 and this contained tear off scratchcards which you have to remove to display arrival date & time. Again, once you get used to this system it's fine. You can also pay by mobile phone.
A further 10 minutes and we arrived at our hotel for the week, the fabulous Biarritz Hotel that has stunning panoramic views over probably the best beach on the island, St Brelade's Bay.
It was fascinating to see how the cosmopolitan capital of St Helier sits perfectly with the stunning coastal walks and sandy coves. We visited St Helier on a couple of occasions, where there is an abundance of retail outlets, restaurants and businesses. Marks and Spencer, Pandora, Next, River Island, all of the top names are on the high street. Also in Jersey you have some outstanding museums to visit including The Harbour Gallery
Jersey Museum and Visitor Centre
The Jersey Central Market is an integral part of Jersey's heritage, having served the local community for over 200 years and it is a vibrant location full of wonderful colours and smells with flower sellers filling the concourse.
Jersey has a population of approximately 102,500 with most people living around St Helier. About 50% are locally born with 31% from the UK, 7% from Portugal & Madeira and 3% from Poland. The currency is pounds sterling but Jersey also has its own banknotes and coins which are classed as accepted tender elsewhere in the UK, people can take it but they don't have to, so it is advisable to make sure you you use up the local currency on the island before you leave.
Jersey was occupied by Nazi Germany troops between 1940 & 1945, with the Channel Islands being the only part of British soil being occupied during WW2. During the period of occupation there were about 8000 islanders evacuated, 1200 deported to camps in Germany and over 300 islanders sentenced to the prison and concentration, camps of mainland Europe. The island was finally liberated on 9th May 1945 and it is now a public holiday locally.
There are lots of remains of the German occupation around the island with fortifications along the beaches, bunkers and the underground hospital which is now a museum.
If it's beaches that you are looking for, Jersey has them in abundance. Our favourites were St Brelades, St Ouens and Plemont. Jersey's tidal reach ranks among the world's greatest – the island literally doubles in size twice a day and at Plemont Bay, one moment you could be sitting on the golden sands and then 20 minutes later the force of the waves came crashing in and filled the cove completely.
So Jersey has so much to offer, with landscapes, seascapes, castles and coves just waiting to be discovered. A relaxed friendly atmosphere, nice beach cafes overlooking the sea, so much history perfect for all ages from ancient castles to the more recent WW2 occupation.
Easy to get to from the mainland and to drive round the island through pretty countryside villages. As the most southerly of the Channel Islands, Jersey’s climate is relatively mild - the weather is similar to the south coast of Britain but often slightly warmer and sunnier. The hottest days are normally found in July and August.
Mobile phone coverage was very good apart from when we were down on Plemont beach which is surrounded by large cliffs, so this was understandable. The Three network allows you to use your monthly allowance in the Channel Islands which was good.
For photographers there are so many opportunities, with the dramatic tides offering some great seascapes, the two castles are both dramatic to capture and Corbiere lighthouse is very photogenic at either high or low tide.