JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH SHANNON M DEANS FROM JERSEY, CHANNEL ISLANDS !
Shannon was born and raised in Jersey. She loves to travel the world but has never been anywhere quite like Jersey. When many people ask where she is from they automatically think she comes from New Jersey, USA so she loves to educate people about her tiny island that it is only 9X5 miles long. She has recently graduated university with a degree in History and she hopes to work in Jersey’s heritage sector.
The Channel Islands are an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. These include the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Lihou. These are not a part of but defended internationally by the United Kingdom.
Jersey is the biggest of the Channel Islands, only 8 km long and 14.5 km wide and is made up of 12 parishes. It is created by tectonic forces that led them to rise out of the ocean about five million years ago. Due to its Southerly location, it is the warmest place in the British Isles. Jersey has the third largest tidal movement in the world, with tides of over 40 feet.
Popular poem on the island :
On this little island, just nine miles by five,
there is just one important question, what time is high tide?
Jersey sits in the Bay of Mont Saint Michel. It is 137 km away from mainland Britain and is geographically much closer to France, just 22 km. You can notice French influence all around the island since Jersey used to be attached to mainland France centuries ago. Names of places are distinctively French and even the language Jerriais (Norman-French) has been derived from old French. You can also see large influence from both Portuguese and Polish cultures.
Although close to France, the Channel Islands are a part of UK. Tell us something about the Islanders way of life and why should one visit the Channel Islands?
I once heard Jersey being described as ‘the best of Britain and France’ and I couldn’t think of a better way of putting it. Jersey has something for everyone and is the perfect place for a family getaway.
If you like to relax, we have many stunning beaches to choose from – my favourite being Plemont bay in St. Ouen.
If you like to be adventurous there are many activities to choose from including: Diving, water sports, rib tours, absailing and much more!
If you are interested in history, Jersey is very lucky to be steeped in it! From medieval castles to Nazi bunkers, there is lots to see and explore.
What are the different ways by which one can reach Jersey Island? Are there any direct flights from France and UK to Jersey?
Jersey can be reached by ferry from the U.K and France. There are also direct flights from cities like Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, Southend and Gatwick in the U.K all year round which takes around an hour and occasionally flights from European cities like Paris.
You can fly to Jersey direct with easyJet and British Airways from 30 different airports across the UK, or take the fast ferry from Poole with Condor Ferries which takes 4h 30mins. You can also travel to Jersey through Commodore Clipper, from Portsmouth port in 10h 20 mins. Condor sail from the UK, France and Guernsey. The ferry terminal is situated in the capital of St Helier, located ten minutes away from the main bus station.
How to get around Jersey considering it’s the biggest of the Channel Islands? Do you recommend renting a car or public transport does the job?
I personally don’t drive so I use the public bus service to get around. The bus service is easy to use and can get you to anywhere on the island. Liberty Bus, has its main depot, Liberation Station in St Helier from where you can take connections to almost anywhere in the island. Hop-On Hop-Off passes can be bought from the Customer Service desk at Liberation Station which gives unlimited travel for 1, 2, 3 or 7 days. You can also rent bikes – Brompton’s folding bikes from Liberation Station available for 24 hour time period.
I would not recommend renting a car as the Jersey roads can be confusing for those who haven’t visited before. Although if you still want, you can opt for car hire companies like Europcar and Hertz which have offices on the island.
There is a regular bus service (number 15) from the Jersey airport into the capital St Helier. Buses depart every half hour and takes the same time to reach St.Helier.
Which town or city should you base yourself in while touring the rest of Jersey?
I would recommend staying in St. Helier – as the locals call it ‘town’. By staying here you are close to the main shopping district as well as being close to public transport, a beach and several public attractions.
However, if you would like to stay close to a beach St. Brelades bay is a great place to stay. It’s one of Jersey’s most popular tourist spots and is also very close to the airport.
What are the must visit attractions in the capital St.Helier?
One of my favourite parts about Jersey is it’s rich history and St Helier have several historical places to visit. The most prominent is Elizabeth Castle, named after England’s Queen Elizabeth I, which sits just off the coast of St. Helier. The castle showcases Jersey’s rich history beginning from 1st century A.D. When the tide is low it can be reached by foot but when the tide is high it can be reached by boat.
The Jersey Museum and Maritime Museum are also situated in St. Helier which give an insight into Jersey’s Heritage. You can also avail of the Jersey Heritage offer passes which can be used over a week and allows us to see 4 sites for the price of 3. The pass is valid at Mont Orgueil Castle, Elizabeth Castle (inclusive of the Castle Ferry), Jersey Museum & Art Gallery, Maritime Museum & Occupation Tapestry Gallery, Hamptonne Country Life Museum (open from May to September) and La Hougue Bie.
To the East of the Island there is another Medieval castle called Mont Orgueil as well as Jersey Zoo (Durrell). Mont Orgueil has guarded the island against invasion threats from the French by its secret passageways, hidden staircases, and tower rooms. You can see the French shoreline, Normandy’s Cotentin Peninsula from the castle walkways. Jersey Zoo was founded in 1959 by Gerald Durrell and is dedicated to saving animals from going extinct.
The western parishes are home to some of Jersey’s best beaches and are the prime location for water sports and surfing. St Ouen’s bay is the most exciting beach for surfers, kite surfers and boogie boarders. It has hosted surfing championships. It is also home to La Corbière, the most southerly lighthouse in the British Isles and also the first to be constructed in concrete. It is linked to the main island by a causeway that is twice daily submerged by the tide.
Other Beaches :
To the North : Plémont is a sandy cove on the north west tip of the island flanked by cliffs and pitted with rock pools.
To the South : St Brelade’s Bay hosts a safe sea for banana boat or speedboat rides and is flanked by cafes and restaurants on either side. Ouaisné Bay is joined to St. Brelade’s Bay and often tourist-free since there are no direct buses to there. It is great for picnics, paddle boarding. Eat out at the cafe Kismet Cabana or pub the Old Smugglers Inn. Havre des Pas is a 10-minute walk from the capital St Helier. It is home to a sea water bathing pool. The sea can almost disappear over the horizon at low tide on this part of the island, hence you can paddle all day long in it. Green Island is the the southernmost point of the British Isles. St. Aubin’s Bay sprawls over the central part of Jersey’s southern coast. Belcroute Bay is ideal for snorkelling and Stand up Paddle (SUP) boarding. Portelet Bay lies a steep descent down the steps from the cliff and like St.Aubin’s, it faces south so you can bask in the sun’s rays throughout the day. Beauport Bay is located in the west of the island, surrounded by cliffs on three sides and at a steep descent which can be reached using the steps from the car park.
To the East : The beaches of Le Hocq and La Rocque are the best for rock pooling. They have some of the largest tidal movements in the world with the backdrop of Seymour Tower. During low tide, it disappears over the horizon and leaving a rocky landscape behind for exploration.
What are the must visit towns of Jersey?
Gorey and St Aubin are picturesque seaside towns that boast the best restaurants in the island.
Gorey is home to Mont Orgueil castle which towers above the town and is well worth a visit. Gorey also has views across to France and a lovely beach to relax on. The Jersey Crab Shack is known for its fish and chips.
St Aubin is situated in the west of the Island and it’s one of the most sought after places to live in Jersey. The locals flock there in the evenings and on weekends to eat and drink. You can stroll around the Bulwarks or along the waterfront to capture beautiful moments in this charming fishing village.
Are there any events or festivals in Jersey around which tourists should plan their holiday to feel the local culture?
Jersey is famous for its summer carnival ‘The Battle of Flowers’ that takes place every summer. The carnival dates back to 1902 and draws thousands of people every year. It’s hard to describe, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking!
Every September we have a music festival called ‘Weekender’ which has featured the likes of Rita Ora, Lewis Capaldi, Bastille and many more!
Please give us some insight into the local cuisine of Jersey? Which are the best places to try them?
We are very lucky to have an abundance of fresh produce here in Jersey.
We are famed for our Jersey Royal potatoes and Jersey milk, but my personal favourite is the array of seafood (oysters, lobster, shellfish, Jersey crab) that we have access too.
The majority of our restaurants use the local produce but I would highly recommend trying The Bass & Lobster in Gorey as they work with seasonal flavours and in my opinion have some of the best food in Jersey! Some other great restaurants include: The Crab Shack, Lockes, La Bouche, El Tico and Tides at the Sommerville Hotel. If you want to try street food, you may try Street Food Thursdays, when you’ll find local street food traders in town.
The island is famous internationally for it’s most recognisable breed of cows and fisherman’s sweaters. Apart from the popular produce, what local crafts and souvenirs one can learn or collect from the island?
There are many local artisans that produce a wide variety of crafts. I suggest going to the Harbour Gallery in St. Aubin if you’re looking for a unique souvenir to bring home. They have many Jersey inspired crafts that have been made locally. I also recommend staying there for a spot of breakfast or lunch as the Harbour Gallery is one of my favourite places to eat on the island.
Jersey Pearl is also another great place to bring home a souvenir, they have 3 stores on the island and as the name suggests they sell Pearl jewellery.
Where should one head for shopping on Jersey Island? Are there any popular weekend/night/flea markets that one must visit?
St Helier is Jersey’s main shopping district where you can find a variety of local and international brands. Whether it is the pedestrian King Street, the island’s shopping Mecca with both local and high street names or the network of walking streets from Halkett to West Centre.
However, if you really want to get a taste of local shopping you should have a look for one of our ‘honesty boxes’! The honesty boxes are usually found on the roadside and are filled with locally grown produce from peoples farms or gardens. The boxes are unmanned so it’s up to you to be ‘honest’ and pay for the items by leaving the money in a box. It’s a practice I’ve only experienced here in Jersey and it’s one of the things I really love about it.
Apart from Joe Freire, other farm produce stalls are Didier and Christine Hellio’s farm for seasonal crops, Jon Hackett’s ‘by the pigs’ for pork pies and sausage rolls, roadside stop of Le Brun Family for Jersey Royals.
Would you recommend any apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Jersey that can be helpful for tourists?
We don’t have many useful apps here, however I would definitely recommend the Liberty bus app and Jersey Bike Hire if you plan on using public transport in Jersey.
Explore the Hedgeveg app to discover the best of the islands roadside produce.
Tourism brings its own trash. Are there any dos and donts that Islanders would like the tourists to know?
I would recommend to only visit Jersey in the summer so you can really appreciate everything that it has to offer and don’t visit in the Autumn/Winter. In the summer Jersey could be mistaken for being in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean as it has amazing weather and crystal clear water. April, May or June (shoulder season) and July, August (peak season) are good time to visit.
I would also recommend taking advantage of the ferries and rib tours by visiting France, Les Miniquers, Les Écréhous or one of the other Channel Islands on a day trip.
THINGS TO KNOW
|Geographical area||45.5 sq miles / 120 sq km|
|Currency||British pound sterling / Jersey currency of same value|
Guernsey and Jersey are part of the Common Travel Area (included in the UK), hence there is no requirement to carry a passport as there are no immigration controls. However a form of photographic identification might be required.
ATM machines are widespread on the island.
The island is most famous for its Jersey cow and the detective series ‘Bergerac‘.
Also a new tv show has just been launched about jersey called ‘The real housewives of Jersey’.
Jerseyman’s first choice of beverage, before the arrival of tea and coffee, was cider. Moise Gibaut, of Mainland, St Lawrence, is said to be the best producer.
Knitting was a widespread activity in Jersey. The island got famous not only for it fisherman’s sweater to which the island gave its name, but also for the woollen stockings. Mary Queen of Scots went to her execution wearing a pair of Jersey Woollen Stockings.
For Adventure : Coasteering adventure with Les Ormes or Jersey Adventures.
Stand-up paddleboard with Absolute Adventures or Jersey Adventures.
Kayaking with Jersey Kayak Adventures or Jersey Adventures.
St. Ouen’s Beach for surfing.
Explore Jersey’s archipelago by visiting Les Ecréhous and Les Minquiers. The miles of reefs, sandbanks and rocky islands are just fifteen minutes away from Jersey. The area is home to seabirds, oyster catchers, cormorants, curlews, dolphins and grey seals. Local adventure companies Rib Voyages and Jersey Seafaris take visitors on RIBs for this experience or enjoy a luxury charter on board Alfie Bouy or Longueville Manor’s Fizz Too.
Discover sea creatures hidden beneath by scuba diving on the scenic beach of Bouley Bay or snorkeling on the reefs of Les Minquiers.
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