The island of Jersey is a place full of confusing little complexities. Situated in the Channel between France and the UK, it’s closer in geography to the former, but a territory of the latter. These complexities throw up others, and the feeling experienced by many visitors here will be that they are neither in one place nor the other. English and French are both widely spoken here and because of this, you might find yourself wondering whether you’re in the UK or in France. In truth, the answer is “neither”. You’re in Jersey.
Read on to learn about the best things to do in the area!
1. Get to grips with history at Mont Orgueil Castle
This 13th-Century castle has undergone modifications over the years to ensure its security against different types of warfare. In 1940, however, its close proximity to occupied France meant that Jersey was occupied by the Nazis, who utilised Mont Orgueil as a surveillance post. Their modifications, designed to fit in with the overall structure of the castle, remain intact today as a historical artefact. Entry prices of 12.20 GBP (or 16 USD) are well worth paying for the experience.
Address: Castle Green, Gorey, St Martin JE3 6ET, Jersey
Website: Mont Orgueil
2. Immerse yourself in 1940s life at the Jersey War Tunnels
Dug and maintained by slave labour during the War, these tunnels were turned into a living museum after liberation and now highlight what life was like under Nazi occupation. Your ticket of entry is a copy of a real identity card issued to islanders at the time, and part of your visit is to research what that person experienced; a stark yet brilliant way of bringing to life the wartime experience on this island.
Jersey War Tunnels
Address: Les Charrières Malorey, St Lawrence JE3 1FU, Jersey
Website: Hohlgangsanlage 8
3. Get prehistoric at La Hougue Bie.
If the 1940s and even the 13th Century aren’t far enough back for you, how about 3500 BCE? At La Hougue Bie, you can find one of Europe’s earliest “passage graves”. A medieval chapel sits on top of the mound that houses the grave and there’s much more to explore, such as a museum of archaeology and a preserved World War II bunker. Entry is just under 9 GBP, or around 11 USD.
La Hougue Bie
Address: La Route de la Hougue Bie, Grouville, Jersey
Website: La Hougue Bie Museum
4. Get more modern by viewing the Mansell Collection
After several trips deep into history, there must be something for people with a more present-day range of interests? Yes, of course - for example, fans of motoring and motorsport will be enthralled by this tribute to four-wheeled transport. Bestowed by former world motor racing champion (and island local) Nigel Mansell, the exhibit includes a dedication to Mansell’s 1992 Formula One Championship triumph - won less than a year before his Indycar victory in the USA. Entry is 10 GBP for adults - about 12.25 USD.
Address: Saint Aubin’s Road, Saint Helier JE2 3SD, Jersey
Website: The Mansell Collection
5. Feel the sand under your feet at St. Brelade's Bay
Recognised as one of the top three UK beaches, St. Brelade’s Bay really doesn’t need much more than that fact alone to sell it. However, if you still need convincing, check out the view from the beach or bribe yourself with a walk along the lush sands, followed by a hearty meal in one of the many local seafood restaurants. Why not take in a view of the Fisherman’s Chapel on the beach’s western side for good measure?
St. Brelade's Bay
Address: St. Brelade, Jersey
Website: St. Brelade’s Bay
6. Bring it all together at the Jersey Museum
It’s fair to say that there has been so much history on the island of Jersey that picking a specific period to focus on can be hard. So why bother? At the Jersey Museum and Art Gallery, you can see it all - from the first people arriving here (a quarter of a million years back), to the occupation in wartime. You can hear the island’s Jerriais dialect - a heritage language the islanders are fighting to keep alive. Want to know how Jersey became so British despite being so French? Here is where you’ll find out!
Jersey Museum & Art Gallery
Address: The Weighbridge, St Helier JE2 3NG, Jersey
Website: Jersey Museum & Art Gallery
7. Take a ride on Le Petit Train
Even those who struggled with high school French will know that “Le Petit Train” means “The Little Train”. In actual fact, there are several little trains which run on a regular basis from Liberation Square in St. Helier, to the beautiful village of St. Aubin, in the west of the island. Although all routes on Jersey are scenic, the south-coast route these little trains take at a price of 8.50 GBP (a little over 10 USD) is one of the most charming.
Le Petit Train
Address: Liberation Square, St Helier, Jersey E2 3NA
Website: Le Petit Train
8. Take in the wonders of Elizabeth Castle
When Mont Orgueil alone was no longer enough to protect Jersey from invasion, Elizabeth Castle was built on a small rocky island off the coast of St. Helier. Begun in 1590, this splendid castle hosts live re-enactments of battles that took place here. It can be reached by amphibious ferry or a captivating walk along the causeway at low tide. The castle alone is worth the trip and the 13.95 GBP entry fee (approximately 18 USD).
Address: St. Aubin’s Bay, St Helier JE2 3NU,
Website: Elizabeth Castle
9. Feel free to explore Liberation Square
Named to commemorate Jersey’s liberation in 1945, Liberation Square is the central meeting place of St. Helier and a fine attraction in itself. At its centre is the Liberation monument, depicting islanders waving a Union flag in celebration of the defeat of the Nazis. The sculpture is interactive, allowing tourists to mingle with the sculpted islanders. Having rested here for a while, it may be worth checking out one of the many cafes that flank the square.
Address: St. Helier, Jersey JE2 3NA
Website: Liberation Square
10. Illuminate your trip with a visit to Corbiere Lighthouse
The coastline around Jersey, though picturesque and serene from dry land, is less so when trying to navigate a boat around it. As a result, this iconic lighthouse was built to warn mariners of the dangers of getting too close. This is a place you must visit, as much for the spectacular cliffs as the lighthouse itself, which is truly something special. Tickets for the guided tour are 15 GBP, or about 19.50 USD.
Address: La Rue de La Corbiere, St. Brelade, Jersey
Website: Corbiere Lighthouse
Take your next break by the Jersey shore ... not that one!
Anyone making the trip to Jersey will be enthralled by the scenery, the shops and the history which pours off every edifice on the island. Some of the attractions may be harrowing at times - but they are important to see and acknowledge, as they serve to make the many light points of Jersey shine all the brighter. It’s not French and it’s not British - it’s Jerriais, which gives the best of both worlds.
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