Visit Jersey – the island for everyone
Visit Jersey – the island for everyone
You know when you’ve had a place in your head that you’ve always wanted to go but didn’t really get around to it? I’ve been like that with Jersey. I’ve flirted with her for years but somehow always found a reason not to go.
I love Britain and I love France and in my head, this compact island in the English Channel would be a happy combination of both so it seemed like a no brainer that I would like it, so what was stopping me? I’m ashamed to say that I had fallen into the mind-set of thinking that Jersey was not hip or cosmopolitan enough – dare I say it but I imagined it was the kind of place that a certain demographic went to on holiday. In layman’s’ terms? I thought it was just for retired gentlefolks.
Again, and I don’t mean to sound impolite or negative but I always imagined that Jersey was for the older generation; a place to sit by the seaside with an ice-cream followed by bingo or a game of cards in the evening. Now, there’s nothing wrong with any one of those pastimes. I’ve happily indulged in all of them at various times in my life!
How wrong was I? No, dear reader, Jersey is cool.
What’s Jersey like?
The Channel island of Jersey is located around 100 miles (160km) south of mainland Britain and just 14 miles (22 km) from the coast of France. A compact island of stunning coastline, golden, sandy beaches and rich landscapes is just waiting to be discovered. With British and French influences, a cosmopolitan city buzz happily co-exists with a chilled, coastal vibe. All of the people we encountered on our trip were friendly, welcoming and above all, very proud of their island and some were very knowledgeable about Jersey’s history and happy to share some stories with you.
Jersey is fantastic and I travelled with three generations of my family and everyone loved it. There was plenty of things to do in Jersey and my opinion changed from the minute I set foot in the place and I knew my travelling companions were all equally content and there was no hint of a moan from any of them. To make things interesting, we had three generations travelling in our party so pleasing everybody was not going to be an easy task. Our age group spanned almost 60 years – the youngest being 15 and our oldest at 74.
Where to stay in Jersey with a family
First up, you might want to decide which part of Jersey you’re going to stay in – not that it really matters, given that the entire island is only 9 miles wide and 5 miles long – 45 square miles in total so it’s pretty quick and easy to get around. If you’re fit and able, walking is the best option and you get to take in so much of the island but if, like us, one or two in your party aren’t as mobile as they’d like to be and you’re wondering where to stay in Jersey without a car, taxis are plentiful and there’s also a superb local bus service. Some hotels offer shuttle services but if you really don’t want to walk far and/or don’t want the expense of taxis, I would suggest staying slap bang in the centre of St Helier. There are some great hotels in the heart of the action such as Radisson Blu Waterfront, The Royal Yacht and The Pomme d’Or.
For our first time here, we chose to stay in St Helier, Jersey’s capital and the hub of the island with a great selection of accommodation, cafes, bars and shops. It seemed like a good base for exploring the rest of the island too. Although as I mentioned earlier, now that I’ve seen how easy it is to get from one spot to another (Jersey is made up of parishes – there are 12 of them in total) it probably doesn’t really matter too much where you lay your hat for the duration.
We stayed in Hotel de France which was just lovely and I have no hesitation in recommending it. However, it is slightly out of town and if you have walking difficulties, you will need a taxi or shuttle service. There’s also a slight incline to the front of the hotel. We all managed fine and do not let it put you off staying here. This hotel is a grand old dame indeed and there is an air of calm about the place from the moment you walk through the doors. It has the façade of a classic French chateau happily combined with state of the art facilities inside. The hotel also boasts one of the best and nicest spas I have even experienced and I’ve been in a few, believe me! The Ayush Wellness Spa is a haven of tranquillity where you can leave all your troubles behind. They offer a portfolio of authentic Ayurvedic therapies and treatments which will leave you feeling rejuvenated, relaxed and totally chilled out. I opted for the Ayush La Sultane Gold Signature Facial – the ultimate in spa luxury in my opinion, this treatment used a blend of plants, flowers, herbs and 23 carat gold to provide healing and balance. I floated back to my room after it.
Things to do in Jersey
So, besides blissing out and pampering oneself in a luxury spa, what is there to do here? Well, it really would be a shame if you didn’t see the whole island on your trip – regardless of how long you’ve decided to stay. Do try and join one of the many bus tours available and a really good way to see the place from coast to coast. Jersey Bus Tours offer a great choice in open top tours, vintage double decker tours, boat trips and bike hire. They have a fun vintage shuttle tour which takes you out to the fascinating Jersey War Tunnels and you can enjoy some informative commentary on-board – you might find the voice familiar – it’s provided by John Nettles, the actor who played Jim Bergerac in the popular TV police drama that was set in Jersey.
We spent a great morning in the War Tunnels, as we were transported back in time to the days of German occupation of Jersey and the events of World War II. Unmissable and a great way to really get to know the island’s history.
If the weather is kind, another top day out is to take a waterbus boat tour These trips set sail from the Albert Pier and take you around the 16th Century Elizabeth Castle , taking in glorious scenery around St Aubin’s Bay. It also lets you get a different view of the island from the water.
On a fine day, this is another must do experience. There’s also the chance to take day trips from Jersey and visit the other Channel Islands such as Guernsey, Herm and Sark or sail high speed with Condor Ferries to the famous medieval city of St Malo.
Got kids in tow and wondering what to in Jersey when it rains? There’s a cracking spot for them to while away a few hours and it’s called aMaizin Adventure Park – there’s loads of stuff included in your entrance fee and the park offers both outdoor and indoor activities. Toboggan, gold-mine, go-karts, jumping pillow and tractor rides can be used by all ages – bound to keep the little ones amused whatever the weather. You can also hang out in the Maritime Museum which is a fun day out for all ages.
Beautiful Beaches in Jersey
In need of some sun, sea and sand, we ventured along to St Brelade’s Bay on one of our better weather days (It was October and very mild but we only had one day of good sunshine out of four – apparently, it’s usually pretty warm from April- September and the summer months being on par with many continental resorts)
St Brelade’s Bay is top of my list for my return visit. I spotted three nice Jersey hotels along this stretch – The St Brelade’s Bay Hotel, L’Horizon and The Golden Sands – all of which looked just the ticket and I’ve come home armed with their brochures and price lists. This spot took my breath away. The sound of the waves whooshing up to the shore and the sunlight bouncing off the water showed Jersey off at her best and boy, was she a vision that morning. If coastal views and nice beach walks are top priority for you then choose one of the hotels in this part of the island.
Where to eat in St Helier
You won’t be left wanting when it comes to food either. Jersey is fast becoming a foodie hot spot, especially for lovers of seafood and fresh fish. The dishes are just bursting with flavour and there’s usually a rather nice wine list to accompany your catch of the day. There’s also plenty of traditional pub grub options as well as inexpensive family restaurants in the form of popular chains such as TGI Friday’s, Pizza Express and Bella Italia if you need to find something familiar for fussy younger diners. One eaterie that I really enjoyed (surprisingly) was the Brasserie at De Gruchy – DeGruchy is one of the leading departments stores in St Helier. I say I was surprised because I only fancied going in for a coffee pit stop during a bit of retail therapy but when I saw the menu, I was forced to indulge in a tasty dish of mushrooms drenched in a creamy Roquefort sauce, washed down with a large glass of Sauvignon, followed by a scone and jersey cream. I am reliably informed that the chocolate cake and ice cream wasn’t too shabby either.
Shopping in St Helier
If you’re looking for some retail therapy on your Jersey holidays, head for the pedestrianised area of King Street, a short walk from Liberation Square and the front harbour. Again, I was surprised by the fine selection of shops and labels in St Helier. You’ll find all the UK High Street staples such as Boots, Next, Top Shop, Molton Brown, M&S and Jack Wills etc but do make time for the two showpiece department stores – Voisins and De Gruchy.
Since coming back, I’ve been researching and planning my next trip to Jersey – Mum and Dad are keen to go back and stay at one of the seaside hotels and I must admit, I wouldn’t say no to a few more days taking in these views and breathing in the fresh sea air. Would I stay here for two weeks as my main holiday? Maybe not, but a week or a couple of days in spring or late summer/ early autumn? – yes please – as many times as I can afford to go!
As most of you know I like a bit of travel and I’ve been lucky enough to see some great places over the years. Jersey was always one of those places that I wanted to go to but something held me back. Was I always looking for more exotic destinations? Ones that you could brag about to your friends and colleagues. Sometimes it felt that the further away, the more credible it was or it made you look like a more adventurous holidaymaker because you chose to go to the other side of the world. I have learned a valuable lesson from this trip… You don’t need to clock up 1000’s of air miles to enjoy a lovely break.
In short, I spent a wonderful few days of quality time with my family, especially on that warm, sunny Wednesday, appreciating the glorious scenery before me from a promenade bench. The memory of that stroll along the beach will stay with me forever. It didn’t cost a penny and money could not have bought that feeling of relaxation and contentment that those moments gave me. All of Jersey’s delights aside, it really did occur to me that sometimes the best things in life really are free and usually not that far from home.
Travel to Jersey
We flew to Jersey from Glasgow with EasyJet but there’s a good choice of flights with British Airways and Flybe from other UK airports. The flight took just over an hour and went like clockwork. Jersey airport isn’t huge but there was ample duty free shopping and a nice café to while away the short waiting time before our return flight.
I love travel. I’ve been fascinated by other countries and cultures since my first foreign trip in 1985 and I’ve had serious wanderlust ever since.I also love to write about where I’ve been and tripsology lets me indulge that passion. I’m thrilled to be a regular contributor and editor. When I’m not writing I also run my own PR and publicity company.