The enchanting Channel Islands
Lying off the coast of Normandy, the Channel Islands offer all the best bits of an English seaside holiday, liberally sprinkled with the flavours of France. One day you’re exploring craggy coasts famous for smugglers’ coves and local legends, the next you’re walking through striped vineyards and fragrant lavender fields. And while the cuisine may look French with lots of cream, cheese and shellfish, you’ll also stop for the occasional cream tea.
With their old, cobbled towns and battle-worn castles, their unspoiled beaches and stunning walking trails, these islands combine all the scenery, history and flavours of the Continent, with all the pleasures of being closer to home.
If you’re drawn to the idea of a UK holiday but the traveller in you wants to explore a bit further away, the Channel Islands could be just what you’re looking for.
The largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey blends British seaside scenery with a dash of French flair. You’ll feel like you’re in rural England as you explore Jersey’s narrow country lanes and the walking trails on its rugged coastline. But the buzz in the capital, St Hellier, with its artisan markets, one-off boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants and cool beach cafés, feels distinctly Continental.
Guernsey was once Jersey’s slightly sleepy little sister, but in recent years it has really come into its own. The capital St Peter Port serves some of the Channel Islands’ finest seafood in award-winning hotel and harbour-view bistros, and on its High Street you’ll find local, Guernsey-made goods jostling with designer brands. Castle Cornet still guards Guernsey harbour as it has done for centuries – go at midday to see a period-costumed soldier fire the Noon Day Gun.
The Channel Islands are further south than the rest of the British Isles, and usually enjoy good summer sunshine. Like the UK, July and August are the hottest months.
Yes, you can fly direct from the UK to both Jersey and Guernsey. Flight times from airports in the south (like Gatwick or Southampton) are short; around one hour to Jersey and one hour 15 minutes to Guernsey.
British citizens don’t need a passport to travel to the Channel Islands, but we do recommend you take a valid British passport if you have one. That’s because you will need to show some form of photographic identification when you land at Jersey or Guernsey airport, and of course you will need a passport if you plan to visit France during your holiday.
English is the most widely spoken language in the Channel Islands, although you may well hear French spoken too. You’ll notice the French influence is evident across all the islands in the names of places and streets.
Although the currency in the Channel Islands is pounds sterling, both Guernsey and Jersey produce their own notes and coins. You won’t need to change your currency before travelling, but you may be given local currency in change. Before you come home, remember you can’t use Channel Island sterling in the rest of the UK, but it’s easily exchanged in banks.
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