Traveller's Guide: Jersey

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The tiny Channel Island with hints of France makes a great summer break, says Kate Simon.

Gentle Jersey, the most southerly of the British Isles, closer to France than to our south coast, claims to enjoy more sunshine hours than any other corner of the land. So the annual June in Bloom Floral Festival (01534 448800; jersey.com), which runs from today until 24 June, provides an appropriate summery moment to visit as the island's parks and gardens, public and private, throw open their gates to reveal the natural beauty that thrives here. For most visitors, a trip to Jersey is all about the landscape. In summer, looking out from the cliff path above the blue waters and golden sands of St Brelade's Bay on the south-west coast, you could imagine yourself to be in the Mediterranean. Jersey may be tiny, at just nine miles by five, but it's the largest of the Channel Islands and has a satisfyingly diverse terrain.

Take a walk through the flower-filled meadows and shady woods of the Fern Valley just north of the capital, St Helier; scale the cliffs at La Grève de Lecq on the rugged north coast; romp across the dunes on the western windswept sands of St Ouen's Bay. Along the way, you can expect to see puffins and petrels, sea campion and sand crocus, swallows and spotted flycatchers, foxgloves and primroses. The National Trust for Jersey (01534 483193; www.nationaltrustjersey.org.je) is just one of a number of organisations that has pledged to protect the island's natural environment which has, in places, been blighted by overdevelopment and some quite unremarkable structures. Yet, Jersey's architectural heritage also offers much to admire.

The island's position between France and England has attracted invaders and settlers since prehistoric times. Each wave has added to Jersey's collection of structures, from the dolmen at La Hougue Bie (01534 853823; jerseyheritage.org; entrance £7.40), which also houses a museum about the Neolithic era, and impressive coastal defences such as 13th-century Mont Orgueil Castle (01534 853292; jerseyheritage.org; entrance £10.90), above the eastern harbour of Gorey, and the simple yet evocative 19th-century communal washing areas, such as the Lavoir de La Rue des Prés near Five Oaks junction.

Historic buildings are favoured for illustrating on the local currency, the Jersey pound, just one of the small differences that makes this place feel a little distant from the British mainland. Travelling around the island, with its predilection for civic floral displays, you could be forgiven for thinking that you're somewhere in stockbroker-belt Surrey. But then your eye will alight on a road sign written in French and you'll be reminded that, while geographically part of the British Isles, Jersey is not a part of the United Kingdom but rather a dependency of the British Crown – ruled by its own assembly, with its own, if dying, language, Jèrriais – which bears the influence of its Norman neighbours, too.

The island also has its own distinct gourmet scene that makes use of its enviable wealth of local produce. Go about the island's lanes in May and June and you'll see the pickers bent-backed on the cotils – steep south- and west-facing terraced slopes – plucking Jersey Royal potatoes from soil that is fertilised using seaweed gathered from the shoreline.

Thousands of tons of potatoes are exported each year, but you'll still find plenty on offer in the island's restaurants, alongside the seafood for which Jersey is also famed – sweet scallops from Bouley Bay, oysters from Grouville, lobster, chancre crab, ormers and mussels. And the creamy milk of Jersey cows creates sublime ice cream. Buy yourself a cone, roll up your trousers and weave your way through the bucket-and-spade-wielding throng for a paddle in the ocean.

This island has plenty of experiences to offer the traveller, but a good old-fashioned trip to the beach is surely one of the best.

Breath of fresh air

The locals are so keen on stepping out they hold walking festivals in spring and autumn. The next, Autumn Walking Week (15-22 September), features self-led and guided walks aimed at all ages and abilities, during the day and night. Highlights include a five-day Around Island Walk and Food Trails.

From April to October, there's a guided walking programme with themed town and country walks daily. One follows in the footsteps of Jersey's famous daughter Lillie Langtry, including the Old Rectory, where she was born. There is a similarly full calendar of events for cyclists. The Jersey Tourism website (jersey.com) contains full details.

On the coast, surfing, kayaking and wakeboarding are all offered. Check out activities run by Absolute Adventures (07829 881111; absolutejersey.co.uk), such as blokarting (£30 an hour) and coasteering (£35 for two hours).

A taste of the island

The recent award of a Michelin star to Tassili, the restaurant led by Richard Allen at the Grand Jersey Hotel & Spa (01534 722301; grandjersey .com) in St Helier, brings the island's quota to an impressive three. His adventurous dishes include parfait and yuzu marinated salmon, octopus and avocado salad, quail egg, wasabi and squid ink, and kombu foam.

The other two stars are held by Shaun Rankin's Bohemia Bar & Restaurant at The Club Hotel & Spa (01534 876500; bohemiajersey.com), also in St Helier, and the Ocean Restaurant at The Atlantic Hotel (01534 744101; theatlantichotel.com), at St Ouen's Bay, headed by Mark Jordan. He's also just launched a more relaxed dining space at St Aubin's Bay, titled simply Mark Jordan at the Beach (01534 780180; markjordanatthe beach.com). There's a taste of Portugal on offer in St Helier, at Restaurant Barqueiro (01534 868686) in Beresford Street. One in twelve of Jersey's 100,000 residents originate from Portugal and Madeira, a link dating back to the 1930s.

Self-caterers can opt for the daily catch at Captain Lobster (01534 615815; captain lobster.co.uk) on Victoria Pier, St Helier, open most afternoons.

On the history trail

Jersey documents its past well, not least through a fine collection of forts maintained by Jersey Heritage (01534 633300; jerseyheritage.org). Among the most imposing is the 16th-century Elizabeth Castle (01534 723971; jersey heritage.org; entrance £12), set on its own islet in St Aubin's Bay, which can be reached on foot at low tide. (Also site of the hermitage said to be the home of St Helier in the 6th century.) Like many Jersey Heritage properties, the castle has holiday rentals – an apartment sleeping six in the old barracks costs from £594 for a minimum three-night stay.

The story of the German occupation in the Second World War is told at the Jersey War Tunnels (01534 860808; jerseywartunnels.com; entrance £11.20), in the eerie setting of a hospital bunker built by PoWs at Les Charrières Malorey. One of the island's top attractions, the Glass Church (01534 720934; glass church.org), aka St Matthew's, at Millbrook, has fully reopened after restoration. The glass font is among the creations of designer René Lalique, who was commissioned in 1932 by Florence Boot, wife of the founder of Boot's the Chemist.

Party on

Jersey may have a reputation as a sleepy backwater, but barely a month goes by without a special event taking place.

On 15 July, the Olympic torch makes its most southerly stop in the British Isles along the south coast of Jersey, from Bel Royal to Weighbridge Place. On 9 August, the island gets into the carnival spirit for its annual Battle of Flowers (01534 730178; battleofflowers.com),above, an event with appropriately royal beginnings for this jubilee year – it was first held in 1902 to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII. Floats decked with blooms will process through the streets for the Grand Day Parade, accompanied by musicians, dancers and entertainers. On 10 August, the whole spectacle will be illuminated by thousands of lights for the traditional Moonlight Parade.

Jersey Live Music Festival (jerseylive.org.uk; from £58) will take place at the Royal Jersey Showground on 1 and 2 September. Headline acts include Professor Green and The Stranglers.

Staying power

This island has plenty of hotels and self-catering options, all listed on the tourist board's website (jersey.com). But Jersey also has a good deal of unusual accommodation. Heritage Holiday Lets (01534 633304; jerseyheritage.org) is a portfolio of quirky historic properties, including the Barge Aground, a 1930s house designed in the shape of a boat which sits on the dunes at St Ouen's Bay. Sleeping six, it's available from £396 for a minimum two-night break.

Luxury camping now features in the island's accommodation mix with the opening this year of Durrell Wildlife Camp (01534 860090; durrell.org/camp) in the grounds of the wildlife park established here in 1959 by the author and conservationist Gerald Durrell. From 30 July to 3 September, 12 geodesic domes will be ready for hire, sleeping two adults and two children, with bathrooms and kitchenettes. Prices start at £495 for four nights, including park entry.

Other accommodation news for this year includes the reopening of the Marina Metro Hotel (01534 724519; marinametrojersey.com), at Havre des Pas in St Helier, after a major refurbishment. Its 34 bedrooms cost from £68 per night, including breakfast.

Travel essentials

Getting there and getting around

Flights from the UK to Jersey include: BA (0844 493 0787; ba.com) from Gatwick; Jet2 (0871 964 0016; jet2.com) from Leeds/Bradford and Blackpool; easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyjet.com) from Southend, Glasgow and Liverpool; bmibaby (0905 828 2828; bmibaby .com) from East Midlands; Manx2 (0871 200 0440; manx2.com) from Isle of Man, Gloucester and Oxford; Blue Islands (08456 202122; blueislands .com) from Isle of Man, Bristol, Bournemouth, Manchester, London City, Cambridge and Southampton; and Flybe (01392 268529; flybe.com) from Bristol, Southampton, Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham, Cardiff, Doncaster-Sheffield, Norwich, Durham Tees Valley, Exeter, Humberside, Manchester, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

Condor Ferries (0845 609 1024; condorferries .co.uk) operates from Poole, Weymouth and Portsmouth to Jersey's Elizabeth Terminal (01534 447788; portof jersey.je). Connex Jersey (01534 877772; mybus.je) operates bus services from the ferry port and Jersey Airport to Liberation Station in St Helier, as well as local routes across the island. Taxis from the airport cost about £15. Car hire is available through companies including Hertz (01534 636666; hertzci.com) and Sovereign (01534 608062; carhire-jersey.com). A week's car hire starts at about £130.

Jersey has lots of cycle routes and Funky Puffin Bike Hire (07797 720159; jerseybikehire.co.uk) has bikes from £18 per day adults, £10 for children.

More information

Jersey Tourist Board (01534 448800; jersey.com).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?