Channel Islands

Overview

Introduction

The Channel Islands are geographically much closer to France than to England. Though they've been in the British domain since the Norman conquest, their culture and cuisine show the influence of both countries. The two main islands have established themselves as a tax-free shopping zone (a nice reprieve from the double-digit value-added tax in England). A whole week is needed to explore them, and a lot of your time will be spent on ferries.

The two most popular islands are Jersey and Guernsey. Other Channel Islands—Sark, Alderney and Herm—are much smaller, and only people who have a lot of time and a strong interest in the islands' culture will want to visit them.

Jersey—A sunny climate attracts visitors to the largest and most populous of the Channel Islands. A drive around the island reveals wildflowers, sand dunes, soaring cliffs, isolated beaches, castles, manor houses, forts and grazing Jersey cows. Quaint St. Helier, on the southeastern side, is the capital; plan some time there to visit the markets and enjoy the architecture. Jersey also has many wonderful museums: Our favorites include St. Peter's Bunker (World War II museum), the Motor Museum, the Battle of Flowers Museum and the Jersey Museum. Also visit the zoo, St. Matthew's Church and the Eric Young Orchid Foundation. 35 mi/55 km west of France's Normandy coast.

Guernsey—Slightly quieter than Jersey, it's a bit like the richer parts of rural England were 20 years ago. While there, observe the French influence and sample the farm-fresh produce. Visit the shipwreck museum at Fort Grey, the "Little Chapel" in St. Andrews parish, Hauteville House (Victor Hugo's home), Cornet Castle and the Sausmarez Manor Exotic Woodland Gardens. The island also has a few interesting sights related to German occupation in World War II. Be sure to walk the cliff-top paths along the coast: One vantage point near Icart Point caught Renoir's eye. The island's main city, St. Peter Port, is built on a hillside. Explore its narrow streets and lovely architecture. 25 mi/40 km northwest of Jersey.

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