Historic Jersey, Channel Islands
Mont Orgueil Castle, Gorey, Jersey
Seymour Tower, Jersey
In search of a truly spectacular, yet little known, holiday destination? The Island of Jersey, just 14 miles off the coast of France and 100 miles south of the English coast, has been a favourite of British and European travellers for decades. Its abundant summertime pleasures include sunny, mild weather, some of the cleanest beaches in Europe, allsorts of sea sports, one of the biggest tidal ranges in the world, guided nature walks, bike excursions, al fresco food festivals, lanes bursting with natural flora and fauna. There are more things to see and do than you would expect from an Island which measures just 9 by 5 miles.
It is a comfortable destination for American travellers as it is part of the British Isles and English is the language spoken. Jersey has excellent travel links with regular flights from over 30 UK airports or cross the channel from the South coast of England or island hop to the other Channel Islands and nearby France.
The Island is astonishingly rich in heritage. Its museums interpret in modern and interactive ways more than 5,000 years of history. There is a wealth of historic sites including Neolithic burial chambers, medieval castles, Martello towers, Victorian markets and German bunkers.
Jersey in recent years has celebrated 800 years of allegiance to the English Crown, after the Island chose to ally itself with England and broke its ties with France, following the fall of Rouen in 1204. This lead to a special relationship that still remains between Jersey and English Crown. Although now British, the Island has a distinctive French past, which is still evident from the street names, local laws and traditional surnames. But it is only since the 1960s, that the official language has been English!
Jersey and the other Channel Islands were the only part of Britain to be occupied by the Germans during World War II. Hitler ordered his troops to make the Island impregnable, using slave labour to construct gun emplacements, bunkers and a vast network of underground tunnels. Todayís visitors can find out more about this period of history at the Jersey War Tunnels and enter one of the underground complexes yourself. Last year Jersey celebrated the 60th anniversary of its liberation with a series of themed events attended by Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip.
The culture of Jersey has been forged by its unique history but also greatly by the sea, shaping the nature of its people and the Islandís astounding natural scenery. Locals possess a great affinity with the ocean and it is the backdrop to all of their lives.
From the main town of St Helier there are views across the water to Elizabeth Castle set on its own islet in St Aubinís Bay, which was built to protect the growing town during the 1590s. The castle provided refuge for King Charles II during the English Civil War and, in return for the Islandís loyalty, rewarded the Bailiff of Jersey, with land in the Americas Ė New Jersey.
St Helier has at its centre, the Royal Square where the Battle of Jersey was fought in 1781 and where the Islandís government buildings are to be found. Its pedestrianised streets are a magnet for shoppers and the Victorian Central Market, with its display of food and flowers, including the famous Jersey Royal, is not to be missed.
In the countryside, Hamptonne Country Life Museum recreates time gone by, with restored farmhouses and outbuildings dating back six centuries. Have a pint in a country pub and see Jerseyís rural heart.
Jerseyís home grown produce features on most menus, together with freshly caught seafood and delicious Jersey cream. There are more restaurants per square mile then in most major cities.
Where to stay and things to do in Channel Islands
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