Proudly British, but located just 14 miles from the coast of France, Jersey enjoys the almost unique position of offering a holiday that combines the familiarity of home with a distinctly European flavour.
Despite not needing a passport to travel here from the UK (although photographic identification is required) arrivals from Poole harbour drive off the high-speed ferry straight on to ‘La Route du Port Elizabeth’, one of many French language road names that may suggest you’ve found yourself in Brittany rather than on British shores.
A French Connection
You may discover that your accommodation has a similarly continental twist with the Pomme D’or, Beau Rivage and Hotel De Normandie all implying a location further a little further across the channel, but walk down any street or chat to a local and you’ll find the prevailing language is English.
Our long connection to France is not forgotten when it comes to dialect however. Jersey’s traditional native tongue is Jerriais, a language which can trace its roots back 1000 years to Normandy. While unlikely to be heard on the streets of St. Helier these days it is still spoken by some older members of the community and in an effort to keep it alive the language is now taught in local schools. As often happens, a number of Jerriais words have become part of the everyday modern vernacular of the island, and you may hear reference to vraic (seaweed) or côtils (steeply sloping fields) during your stay.
Dinner With A View
Long summers, warm temperatures and lots of sunshine lend a continental feel to dining out in Jersey. Al fresco is the order of the day here be that at a street side table in St. Helier, watching the world go by, or a picnic bench by the sea where breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a refreshing drink are enjoyed with a backdrop of sparkling azure sea. The food on the table is just as important as the view, and on an island surrounded by the sea it’s unsurprising that fresh seafood takes the lead. British favourites such as fish and chips sit comfortably on menus beside European dishes such as the classic and delicious Moules Frites. After a long lazy lunch with the sun beating down on your shoulders, the bill arrives in familiar pounds sterling and any worries about exchange rates are forgotten.
Holidaymakers accustomed to taking their own car on the ferry to France will be familiar with those first few miles of steely concentration as you become accustomed to the opposite side of the road. Despite road names inspired by our neighbours across the water, there’s no such requirement to move to the right hand side here. Driving in Jersey may be slower and steadier but is by and large the same as the UK. Exceptions to the rule include our unique filter-in-turn junctions and a network of narrow and leafy ‘Green Lanes’ where the speed limit is restricted to 15mph and cyclists, horses and pedestrians take priority.
Life’s A Beach
With 19 beautiful and varied beaches to choose from, day to day life here in the summer revolves largely around time spent on the sand. The dress code is board shorts and bare feet, and the atmosphere laid back and unhurried. St. Ouens bay with its vibrant surf culture and rolling waves could be mistaken for the beaches of Biarritz, while palm-lined and sun-soaked St. Brelades Bay with its chic hotels and beach front restaurants is reminiscent of the cote d’azur.
A visit to the Channel Islands is about as close as you can get to a holiday on the continent while retaining the familiar comforts of a home and we can’t wait to say ‘Bienvenue’ to visitors again this summer.