Have you ever taken a good look at a black & white photo? There is a reason why, in the era of modern technology offering sophisticated solutions to improve and modify our digital pictures, the black & white artistic photography still has its place, it’s because as soon as we supress the colour that distracts us from shadows and lines, our eyes focus on the contrast. And the contrast is an important feature; it shows and emphasizes differences making a picture interesting, meaningful and complete.
What’s particular about Jersey is that you don’t really need to strip it of colours to notice the omnipresent contrast. Jersey is an island of opposites that, strangely enough, don’t clash but coexist in a diversified landscape, culture and architecture.
If you’re planning your next holidays in Jersey, you should definitely include in your plans a trip around the island, along the coast, either by car, by bike or on foot (if you have enough stamina to face some steep hills on your way!). Jersey’s coastline has two very different, contrasting faces. On the north and north-east you will see mostly wind sculpted rocks, caves, majestic cliffs, rocky coves and pebble beaches. The north coast footpaths, which in the late summer months cover themselves with a carpet of heather, offer breath taking, spectacular views. On a nice day, from Bouley Bay, you can see the outlines of Sark and Alderney; from Rozel Bay the French coast and the tiny archipelago of the Ecréhous.
While the north coast fascinates and frightens with its wild and mysterious appearance, the south and west coast offers the most delightful, golden sand beaches: St. Brelade, St. Aubin, Grouville Bay, St. Ouen and many others. However the south coast isn’t homogenous: the sandy beaches are often limited by rocky headlands, like Noirmont Point that dominates the western end of St. Aubin’s Bay or like the stretch of the beach between Grève d’Azette and La Hocq, so often called a “moonscape” due to its appearance at a low tide.
And so from the coastline to the landscape to the architecture, the contrast in Jersey is very obvious.
Although isolated from the UK Mainland and the continental Europe by the English Channel, Jersey doesn’t stand still but grows and develops and in spite of the strict planning and building laws and regulations, the old meets new on our island, creating the atmosphere of diversity.
While the majestic historical monuments will take you back into a journey in time, and the old mills and the granite cottages in the countryside will charm you with their original mixture of simplicity and artistry, the town will greet you with its modern buildings standing proudly amongst Victorian houses, bringing up the contrast between two realities: the one that has been and gone but that we still want to remember and preserve as our heritage, and the one that is partly our present and partly our future.
And finally Jersey is a home for different nationalities forming a multicultural and yet coherent society. For such a small island Jersey has been characterized by large scale inward and outward migration. Immigration has come from Britain, France and more recently from Portugal, Poland and Romania but amongst Jersey’s minorities you will meet people from Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic, India and Sri Lanka. What’s really amazing is that although we come from such different backgrounds, there’s no friction in this cosmopolitan society. Our contrasting traditions, customs, various languages that we speak coexist and complement one another.
You’ll say: OK, but what’s so exceptional about it? You see the same kind of contrast in London, Melbourne or Paris. Well, the contrast itself isn’t exclusively Jersey’s feature, however it is peculiar that in Jersey all these opposites fit within 45 square miles and harmonize in a peaceful atmosphere.