Jersey: more than just a short breakPosted on: 06 March 2018 by Michael Edwards
Michael Edwards hops across the channel and finds Jersey offers much more than a short stay break.
Jersey residents have been known to sail across to St. Malo for their Sunday morning freshly baked croissants. For this Channel Island, with its French sounding names is just 19 miles from the Brittany coast – and flourishing palm trees make St. Helier seem more like Nice than Nantwich. Yet those Jersey Cows, Jersey Royal Potatoes and M & S food shops seem so very English.
Then again, with so much power still vested in the parishes, residents are fined if their trees and bushes overhang the labyrinthine narrow lanes that crisscross the island, twisting lanes where you rarely attain the 30mph speed limit, Jersey also seems to belong to a bygone era. An age even before Bergerac the Island's most famous but fictional resident detective.
Jersey's recent past, the dark and hungry years of The Third Reich's Second World War invasion, dominate this small island's history. The Jersey War Tunnels, 11km of history, largely dug out by slave labourers from as far away as Russia, tells the story of the occupation from both sides. Showing the tunnels use as barracks, hospital and munitions store but also revealing starving Jersey people's brave resistance and the daily dilemmas they faced during these difficult five years. Liberation Day, on May 9th, is still a major celebration of regained freedom.
Elizabeth Castle, with defences dating back to the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth is not just a slice of history, it provides stunning views of Jersey too. At low tide you can walk across the sands or at high tide you can keep your feet dry in the quirky amphibious yellow duck vehicle.
Providing superb views of St Aubin’s Bay, this vast and well-maintained castle, provides hands-on interactive history. The enthusiastic guides will try to conscript you into their army for a little light drill practice and invite visitors to help with the gunnery demonstration.
Although it's a small island you will work up an appetite walking along long sandy beaches at St Brelade’s bay or St Ouens. So Tennerfest is a good time to visit. Every year, for October and early November, most of Jersey's restaurants offer a special Tennerfest Menu. The original plan was to extend the tourist season by offering a two-course meal for a tenner but inflation has taken its toll. With this successful gastronomic festival enjoying its 20th anniversary in 2017 most menus have now crept up in price to £15, £17.50 or £20 for a two or three course menu but they still represent astounding value, particularly for the many seafood options. Looking ahead to booking your flights or ferry tickets for 2018 you could combine Jersey's Literary Festival, usually the last days of September, with the opening days of Tenner Feast in October.
If you feel in need of a little more jewellery for all that fine dining take Five Mile Road to Jersey Pearl for a huge selection of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings. With its own design studio, where you can create your own bespoke pieces or re-string your own pearls, most visitors schedule in a break or lunch at Jersey Pearl's cafe with its panoramic views of St Ouen's beach and the sand dunes.
Another jewellery destination is Catherine Best's studio based in a beautifully converted mill at Les Chenolles, St. Peter. The Channel Island jeweller specialises in exquisite one-off designs using rare gemstones.
For an island just five miles long and 5 miles wide, Jersey is a holiday heavyweight. Whether you are an angler, golfer, sailor or just want to browse and relax Jersey will keep you happily occupied for days on end. And as the largest of the Channel Islands it provides an ideal base for a little Island-hopping around Alderney, Guernsey, Herm and Sark.
Visit www.jersey.com to learn more.
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