Claire and David had a week's holiday in Jersey at the end of July, 2004. Here is the story of our week, with some photos to break the monotony.
As with the last few years, we decided to build our own holiday rather than book through a travel agent. Claire wanted somewhere warm with lots of beaches, while I fancied somewhere they speak English for a change, not too far away. We compromised and came up with Jersey.
Jersey is one of the Channel Islands, just off the French coast in the English Channel, but part of the British Isles. It has its own government, different tax laws, they drive on the left like us, and use sterling, though they have their own notes and coins. Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, Guernsey being the other large one. Jersey is about 45 miles in circumference, so easy to get to know in a week. What I found most confusing about the island was the large number of sports cars, despite the highest speed limit on the island being 40 mph.
We booked our flights through British European, and found what looked like a nice hotel in the village of St Aubin, St Magloire guest house, run by Delphin and Carole. We also booked a hire car for three of the days through Falles.
Our main reason for picking St Aubin to stay for the week was a bit of a random one. The place in Normandy we stayed last year was called St Aubin Sur Mer, so familiarity with the name helped swing it. However, it turns out St Aubin is one of the nicest places on the island. It's a little fishing village on the south west, just five minutes from the airport. It sits at the west end of the huge beach that edges most of the south side of Jersey, St Aubin's Bay, with the main town, St Helier, at the other end of the beach.
We were pleased with our pick, though. St Aubin is quiet, well situated and well supplied with restaurants. The guest house we picked was very nice as well. It's a couple of minutes walk up the 'High Street', a one-way cobbled road off the main road through the village. The owner, Delphin was very friendly, and mentioned that if you book with them, they can arrange your travel at a discount to the normal rates.
Our first full day was Sunday. We took a bus into St Helier, but almost all the shops are shut on a Sunday. We did get a bus timetable from the bus station, and this proved invaluable on the days we didn't have a hire car. There are two bus companies there: the green buses run mainly tourist routes, and cost a bit more. The blue buses have a more comprehensive coverage of the island, and were cheaper, but it took a while to work out the timetable. The blue buses don't do returns, either; just singles.
During the second world war, Jersey was occupied by the German army for five years. They brought in prisoners from eastern Europe to build underground tunnels near the centre of the island. These were to act as an underground hospital, safe from air attack, and the hospital was set up and stocked, but never used. The tunnels now hold a display on the occupation years, with lots of information, videos of people's experiences, and items from the time. The tour was very interesting, and took us a good hour and a half to go round. You get a passcard which is a replica of a real person's card from the time. If you go here, take something warm, as the tunnels are cold, even in the middle of summer.
The next place we visited was called Living Legend. They have a show about the history of Jersey which we didn't go and see, thinking it a bit expensive, but we did have a go on the crazy golf course, which was great.
We nearly missed the last bus back from here. The buses stop at 6, and we ended up getting a bus down to the front and walking across the beach to St Aubin, which was nice, if a little tiring.
Another day without car, so we decided to try the walk to Corbiere. It's about three and a half miles on a well kept pathway through some nice countryside. Corbiere lighthouse is right at the south west corner of the island, and the path out to the lighthouse is only accessible at low tide (the tide was in when we got there). From here you can see all the way up St Ouen's Bay, which runs up the west coast of Jersey. There are also some buildings left over from the German occupation. You find these dotted all round the island in fact.
We walked back part of the way along the pathway (missed the bus at Corbiere) into St Brelade, and down to St Brelade's Bay. We were ravenous, and the cafe behind the beach didn't disappoint us. We then spent an hour or so on the beach watching some French kids throw eggs and flour over each other.
On Tuesday we got our car and did a bit of driving about. We visited the Agateware pottery shop, where they make pottery that looks like agate. Some of the stuff was very nice, and more affordable than the stuff at Jersey Pottery (see later). We also went to Treasures of the Earth, which had a lot of nice, but overpriced gemstones and the like.
The Jersey Goldsmiths is situated at a place called Lion Park. You have to go through the goldsmiths to get to the park, presumably so you're tempted into buying a diamond or two. Look out for the glass box containing several gold bars and a huge tarantula.
We had lunch in the cafe there - more plus marks for Jersey's food - and then wandered through the park. They have a nice boating pond, a pond with flamingos and lots of big fish swimming about. You also get the chance to pan for gold if you fancy a shot.
Next on our big driving tour of Jersey was the port town of Gorey, and Mont Orgueil, the castle you've seen in all the brochures. The castle is being done up just now, but was still worth a look, and the lady with the hawk made the visit more interesting. The hawk seemed to relish flying by people as closely as it could.
The view from the top of the castle was lovely, looking down over the bay and the harbour.
The woman in the Agateware shop had recommended a restaurant in St Helier, Pinnochio's, so we tried that out at night. The food was good and the staff were very friendly. This was one of the good points about Jersey - the food is quite dear, but tended to be very good, even at the little cafe places.
Sunshine! Hooray! Wednesday was the first properly sunny day of the week, though it had been warm enough, and time to go to the beach. Plemont Bay is at the north west corner of Jersey, and there are a lot of steps to climb down to get there, but the beach was lovely. We got there at 10 and stayed until 2, when the tide had come in and completely covered the beach.
After escaping the rising tide at Plemont, we went to St Ouen's Bay, which is very long, had plenty of space, but a bit stony. It did us the rest of the afternoon, though.
On Thursday we went into St Helier again, all the shops being open this time. The indoor market was interesting, and we got a few presents to take home. We also took a drive to Jersey Pottery, planning to have a bite of lunch here. This one let us down though: the food was far too expensive and we ended up with just a cake each. The pottery, too, was very expensive, so it didn't take us long going through the shop.
More sunshine, so a morning at the beach in St Brelade's Bay. We've handed the car back, but the bus service takes us straight there. After lunch at our favourite beachside cafe we stayed some more before heading home.
It's our last day, the plane leaves at 4.40 and it doesn't take long to get to the airport, so we have some time. We decided to go to the zoo. First a bus to St Helier, then a bus to the zoo. The statue above is outside the tourist information place in St Helier, and represents the liberation of Jersey from the German occupation.
The zoo is the most expensive place we visited in our week. It's 10 pounds a head, but we've paid our bus fare to get here so decide to go in anyway. The zoo was founded by Gerald Durrell, the famous naturalist, and holds a lot of creatures that are close to extinction in the wild. Most interesting are the gorillas and the orang utans, and there are a few lemurs and the like. No elephants, giraffes or lions and tigers, but there is a black bear.
We enjoyed our week in Jersey, and I'd go again for the relaxed atmosphere and the lovely beaches. You can get to know the island pretty well in a week, so I think we'd have run out of new places to go if we'd stayed a second week, but the food was very good and the weather more reliable than back home.
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