FAMOUS for cows, cream and Bergerac, Jersey is fast becoming a trendy new hotspot in its own right.
Just nine miles by five, the southernmost of the British Isles boasts cliffs, secluded bays and rocky coves that are all accessible by road or on foot.
But beware – the island has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world. Read the signs if you decide on a cause-way walk or rock-pool hop because you could be caught out and cut off.
The capital, St Helier, is on the south of the island just inland from St Aubin’s Bay. The town has a vibrant atmosphere, clearly British but with a distinct French influence as Normandy is only 12 miles away.
Here you’ll find a wonderful fresh food market, some unique shops, restaurants and cafés. The town centre is traffic free and has an easy relaxed holiday feel.
The weather is the sunniest anywhere in the British Isles and, while the summers are not boiling, islanders rarely suffer below-freezing temperatures in winter.
Fiercely independent, Jersey still enjoys its own police force, law enforcement (the smoking ban started 6 months before mainland UK), has taken on very few EU regulations and still uses its own currency (although sterling and euros are accepted in some areas).
Until the 1960s, French was the predominant language but English has gradually taken over.
If you’re driving, be aware that the speed limit around town is 40mph but everywhere else it is 15mph. This is because there is a “green lanes” road network – away from the main roads people,bicycles and horses have priority.
You won’t find CCTV, there’s no university and hardly any crime. A huge part of Jersey’s history is the German occupation during WWII. The underground “hospital”bunker (Jersey War Tunnels) near St Helier is a major attraction even though tourism only accounts for about 10% of the island’s revenue.
The other “must see” attractions include Living Legend – a superb walk-through tour and cinema show detailing the island history, Jersey Pottery at Grouville (make your own design and anything you buy can be shipped home for you),and the Maritime Museum, which explains how shipbuilding became the backbone industry.
There are two fantastic castles to explore – 16th Century Elizabeth Castle at St Aubin’s Bay, which you can walk to over the causeway or catch a ferry, and 14th Century Mount Orgueil Castle at Gorey.
Durrell Conservation Centre has a selection of animals from all over the world. It was catapulted on to the world news stage when a little boy fell into the gorilla compound and lay unconscious but guarded by the silverback male until rescuers came.
Founded more than 40 years ago by Gerald Durrell, this is not a zoo but an ongoing conservation project.
For the outdoor life, watersports are big. Jersey Sea Sports Centre offers a package weekend which includes flights, accommodation, lessons in jet ski, water ski, wakeboard and a speedboat trip.
Superb seafood and general cuisine are not only plentiful but during “Tennerfest” amazingly cheap! In October and November the restaurants taking part each offer a full three-course menu for £10, £12.50 or £15.
The Hungry Man at Rozel Bay serves the best fresh crab sandwiches and the Old Court House is instantly recognisable for Bergerac fans as Diamond Lil’s.
Accommodation is B&B up to five-star. The newly refurbished Mayfair Hotel has large rooms and tasteful airy suites.
Its sister hotel the Metropole is about to undergo major redecoration. Both have gym, sauna, swimming pools, restaurant, plenty of parking and are within easy walking distance of St Helier.GETTING THERE: Parkmore Holiday Cottages
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