Bailiwick of Jersey
Although it took a long time to finally travel to any of the British Isles and the Channel Islands itself, it will not be the last but only the beginning considering the many other around. Coming to three, then the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey all are self governing democracies under the constitutional monarchy with independent administered jurisdictions; meaning it does not form part of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth of Nations, or the European Union; although it has special treats with them, being the United Kingdom constitutionally responsible for the defense of Jersey.
Being an island of that small size, it makes it perfect for a weekend. Don’t expect any city though, as even the capital of the island, Saint Helier, has more feeling to a little village than a city. Everywhere else across the island are small villages, some towns, and the beautiful coasts, empty beaches and landscapes.
As a curious fact, until not long ago Jèrriais was the official spoken and written language in the Channel Islands; but since the last decades this has changed in favour of English, still you will find names and translations on both languages, although we did not come across anyone speaking it nor listened in the radio or anywhere a word of it.
The best you can do while in Jersey is to rent a car and drive all the way around it. This is what every visitor does and expect the queue at the car hire desk. Book in advance as this will save you some pounds. If you don’t get a car then you will be absolutely stranded without anything to do after visiting Saint Helier (3 hours maximum if including the time spent in walking to Elizabeth Castle). With a car you can drive to great places as Devil’s Hole where you will enjoy the cliffs and incredible landscapes.
For food, you should try the Jersey wonders, or mèrvelles as they are also named. It’s a small pastry-like consisting of fried dough. Seafood is with difference the most traditional cuisine of Jersey, including mussels, oysters, lobster and crabs; but you will be glad to read and know in advance from my experience that restaurants do not have the same opening hours as you might expect back in the UK. They do close in the middle of the day and will start serving dinner not earlier than 18.00pm. Also, the restaurants you will find along Saint Helier’s sea front or Mont Orgueil are quite pricey for what they really offer. There are too many fancy restaurants where you get a large plate with small amount in the middle, and shockingly, all busy and full at lunchtime.
We really struggled with finding food on Saturday as we were looking after 14.30pm when there was absolutely nothing opened, and nothing after Mont Orgueil around the north to the west of the island. Not even the rare pubs you will find along the way will serve any food! Thankfully we brought with us our own home made sandwiches.
Also a funny story is with stamps. I always send postcards to my parents and brother wherever I travel, but getting a stamp to Europe is impossible. Only available at the post office, and when closed, there is no other option than to buy 2 UK stamps instead for a postcard. The lower value local stamps cannot be combined with a UK stamp because the local ones are only valid for anywhere across the Channel Islands.
For more information about Jersey check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. The currency is the Sterling Pound, you can of course use the British Pound, yet they print their own notes and coinage. Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Jersey
- Saint Helier The Capital city of the island, although Government House is situated in St. Saviour.
-Royal Square The principal square in the city. Still commonly named The Old Market, Le Vier Marchi in Jèrriais.
-Royal Court and States Chamber Known as States Building.
-Statue of George II Is the zero milestone from which all distances in Jersey are measured, erected in 1751.
-Broad Street Is the main street in Saint Helier where most of the historical buildings are also located and major shopping area.
-Liberation Square The second largest square in the city.
-Pomme d’Or Hotel One of the top hotels in the city.
-Freedom Statue Commemorates the 50th anniversary since the liberation of the city from the Nazi occupation.
-Central Market Dating from 1882 in Victorian architecture. Located in Beresford Street.
-Opera House Opened in 1900, is located in Gloucester Street.
-Fort Regent Located on Mont de la Ville and built for a possible invasions of France as that occurred in 1781, dominates the basin of Saint Helier.
-The Hermitage Islet Originally part of land by the shore now stands off the bay and is accessible on foot at low tide.
-Abbey of Saint Helier/Elizabeth Castle Founded in 1155 built on a tidal island adjacent to the Hermitage. Later fortified in 1600 to become the castle that replaced Mont Orgueil as the Island’s major fortress. Elizabeth Castle.
-Steam Clock On the waterfront North Quay is a full-scale replica of the centre section of a paddle steamboat named the Ariadne.
- Around the Island
-Saint Saviour Small town adjacent to Saint Hellier.
-Government House The official residence of the Governor.
-Mont Orgueil Castle On the eastern side of the island, was the primary defence of the island until the Elizabeth Castle took over in Saint Helier. Dating back to 1212, the current form is mostly from 1549 although modern fortifications were added during the Nazi occupation. Since 2006 is opened back to the public after extended refurbishment and it is currently the main landmark in Jersey.
-Bonne Nuit Bay Only 10 km from Mont Orgueil on the north side of the island (drive setting direction to Saint John).
-Devil’s Hole Moving to the west following the coast. Beautiful path along cliffs.
Jersey Airport is in in the parish of Saint Peter, 8km north west of Saint Helier. The Liberty Bus route 15 connects with the main terminus of Saint Helier at Liberation Station.
The best way to move around the island is to get a rental car, otherwise, although distances are quite short you will need to depend on buses (like bus 15 circle route or bus 1), but worst even, you will not get to enjoy the wonderful landscapes along the coast.
With a quite decent choice of hotels overall, you should not get any trouble finding a good accommodation to your desires, does not need to be in the capital but anywhere if you have a car to move around. A good point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engines such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
We did chose in this occasion a spa place, Apollo Hotel, in Saint Saviour’s Road, Saint Helier. We knew we would visit the whole island on the day of arrival and wanted to have a good rest and relax time at the spa and pool afterwards, and so most of Sunday before coming back to London. Although we were in fact expecting much more (the pictures we saw on the hotel booking pages tricked us), we can still recommend it to anyone. The staff were really kind and helpful to anyone, breakfast was nice, bed very comfortable (I am speaking here from a superior room that we were offered) and also minutes walking distance to the main road in the city centre. Value for money definitely paid off but do not expect a modern place.