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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Channel Islands

Gorey Harbour, JerseyGorey Harbour, Jersey View slideshow

The Channel Islands (French name: Iles Normandes) attract over half a million British vacationers every year. They lie in the Gulf of St Malo, at distances of between 10 and 30mi/16 and 48km from the French coast.

Alderney, the island nearest to Great Britain, is by contrast 50mi/80km from the English coast. The largest of these "dependent territories" directly under the control of the Crown, is Jersey, followed in order of size by Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou and a number of tiny uninhabited islets and clusters of rocks.

Although each of the islands has its own character, they all have one thing in common, the mildness of their climate. Jersey is famed for its early potatoes and tomatoes, Guernsey for grapes, tomatoes and flowers. They all share, too, the advantage of having lower taxes and duties than mainland Britain, so that cigarettes and many luxury articles are very reasonably priced - one of the reasons for the islands' popularity. In more than a geographical sense they are half way between Britain and France: their language is English but full of French expressions, their cuisine is largely French, and their whole way of life, particularly in summer, has a lively southern quality about it. Strolling through one of the larger places, with the shops open until late in the evening, a visitor might well imagine himself in Italy or southern France.

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Transportation

There are excellent air services to Guernsey and Jersey from London and several other major English cities. Guernsey Airport lies 3mi/5km from St Peter Port; Jersey's international airport at St Peter is situated 5mi/8km from St Helier. Services to The Blaye, the airport on Alderney, are very much more restricted.
In summer there are daily ferry crossings from Torquay for Alderney, from Weymouth, Portsmouth and Torbay for Guernsey, and from Poole and Weymouth for Jersey. Ferries also run to the Channel Islands from Cherbourg and St Malo. There are busy ferry and air services between the islands.

Tour

Visitors who want to get to know the Channel Islands properly and are not simply going for the golf or bathing, should allow at least a week, preferably longer. A good program for a week's visit (which unfortunately does not leave time for the very attractive island of Herm) would be as follows: 2 days on Guernsey, with St Peter Port and the east and north coasts on the first day and the west and southwest coasts on the second; on the third day Sark (by boat); on the fourth day Alderney (though if necessary this could be omitted, particularly since it is the most distant of the islands); on the fifth, sixth and seventh days Jersey, covering at least St Helier, Gorey and Mont Orgueil, La Hougue Bie and the north and southwest coasts.

Jersey

Jersey (pop. 82,000) extends over 11mi/18km from east to west and 7mi/11km from north to south. The north coast has the more striking scenery, with a chain of high cliffs, rocky inlets and caves; the other coasts are flatter and more densely populated. Few visitors find their way along the very narrow roads into the interior, an area of intensive vegetable growing and farming. There is a particularly pleasant footpath which runs along the disused stretch of track - part of the old Jersey Railway - from St Aubin lighthouse to Corbière Point on the southwest tip of the island.

St Helier

The chief town of Jersey, St Helier (pop. 29,900), is magnificently situated on wide St Aubin's Bay. It is a lively town, full of atmosphere and charm, having largely kept its Victorian character.
There are numerous points of interest in St Helier such as Liberation Square, La Collette Gardens, Royal Square, Charing Cross and the Waterfront Centre.

Elizabeth Castle

On a small rocky island outside the harbor of St Helier, reached by ferry or by causeway, stands Elizabeth Castle, built during the reign of Elizabeth I. Charles II took refuge there on several occasions.
On an adjoining rock, St Helier, the sixth C. apostle of Christianity, is said to have had his hermitage.

Fort Regent

Fort Regent - now a modern leisure complex with sports facilities and conference halls - used to guard the landward side of the town.

Royal Square

In Royal Square, in the center of St Helier, are the Town Church (10th C.), the Royal Court House, the States' Chamber (administrative building), the Library and a gilded statue of George II.

Jersey Museum

The Jersey Museum in Pier Street has interesting archaeological and art historical collections, the adjoining art gallery being devoted to local artists.
Address: The Weighbridge, St Helier JE2 3NF, England

Grouville

The alternative inland route from St Helier to Gorey passes through Grouville, a pretty little holiday resort with a splendidly situated golf course.

Gorey

Gorey is between 5 and 7mi/8 and 11km from St Helier according to the route chosen. The coastal road is more beautiful than the inland route. Gorey, on the same bay as Grouville, is a charming little town with a row of picturesque houses along the harbor.
Gorey has one of the three main harbors on the island of Jersey. The pier below the castle is the location for the annual Fête de la Mer (seafood gastronomic festival).

Mont Orgueil

Gorey is dominated by the formidable Mont Orgueil Castle, a magnificent example of medieval military engineering from the reign of King John.

La Hougue Bie

Inland from Gorey is Jersey's principal tourist "sight" - La Hougue Bie, a large burial mound topped by two chapels, the Norman chapel of Notre Dame de Clarté (12th C.) and the Jerusalem Chapel erected in 1520 by Dean Mabon. The crypt of the latter contains a replica of the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Excavation of the mound in 1924 revealed one of the largest passage graves in Europe, probably dating from the late Iron Age or Bronze Age (2000 B.C. or earlier) and built from stones weighing between 25 and 30 tons. It consists of a passage 46ft/14m long, an oval chamber almost 6ft/2m high, and three side chambers, all constructed of undressed granite slabs. When archaeologists opened the grave they were dismayed to find it had already been plundered.

St Catherine's Bay

Beyond Gorey and after Anne Port, the road runs round the wide sweep of St Catherine's Bay, a favorite spot with anglers, and past the secluded Rozel Bay with its narrow sandy beach.

Zoo

West of Rozel Bay lies the large Bouley Bay, inland from which, near Trinity, is the excellent Jersey Zoo, well known for its commitment to the preservation of threatened species.
Address: Les Augres Manor, Trinity JE3 5BP, England

Carnation Nursery & Butterfly Farm

The Carnation Nursery and Butterfly Farm (St Mary), another 3miles/5km or so to the west of the Zoo, has a spectacularly colorful collection of exotic butterflies.

Bouley Bay

The north coast is romantic and much indented, with small sandy bays nestling between the rocks.
To the west of Bouley Bay the road no longer runs close to the sea, passing instead through an area of lonely, unspoiled scenery.

Les Platons

A little way inland is the highest point on the island, Les Platons (485ft/148m). Other features along this attractive stretch of the north coast are Bonne Nuit Bay, with its shingle beach and the Mont Mado granite quarries; St John's Bay; La Houle cave; Sorel Point, the most northerly point on the island; the waterfall of Les Mouriers; and a number of caves.

St Ouen's Bay

Almost the entire west coast of Jersey consists of a single, wide bay, St Ouen's Bay, familiar to experienced surfers on account of its breakers. Many traditional craft workshops (making pottery, leather goods and jewelry) are found in the area.

Guernsey

A telephone kiosk, Guernsey.
Guernsey (pop. 55,500) is only about half the size of Jersey but even more densely populated. The cliffs on the south coast rise to 270ft/82.5m, from where the land falls gradually away towards the north. The island's numerous restaurants, with a reputation for delectable cuisine from across Europe, have earned Guernsey the nickname "Gourmet Island".

St Peter Port

Boats moored at St. Peter Port.
The narrow streets and alleyways of Guernsey's capital St Peter Port (pop. 16,000) climb steeply from the harbor to the highest point of the town, commanding a splendid view. Many of the houses are Regency in style, giving St Peter Port a pleasant old world air.
The town is a premier port of the Channel Islands. St Peter Port is noted for its shopping district, historic sites and leisure facilities. Popular activities include cycling, surfing, diving, fishing, bird watching and sailing.

Castle Cornet

On a small island connected by the Castle Pier stands Castle Cornet, founded in 1150 but in its present form largely Elizabethan. Today it houses several museums, the Royal Guernsey Militia Museum, the Guernsey Maritime History Museum, a Royal Air Force Museum and the Art Gallery and Armory.

Town Church

The pulpit of the Town Church is 12th century, the chapel 15th century.

Hauteville House

From 1859 to 1870 Hauteville House was the home of the French writer Victor Hugo (1802-85), at the time a political refugee from France; it contains mementos of the poet and furniture of the period.

Martello Towers

On the east coast of Guernsey are a number of Martello towers as well as the ruined Vale Castle, the early Norman Vale Church, and a large passage grave.

South Coast Caves

The south coast is interesting and attractive, with cliffs and caves. The largest of the caves is Creux Mahie, 200ft/61m long.

Corbière Point

Corbière Point is of interest to geologists, with green veins in the pink and gray granite.

Rocquaine Bay

On the west coast of Guernsey lies the very beautiful Rocquaine Bay.

Lihou

The island of Lihou, linked to the mainland by a causeway, has remains of a 12th C. priory.

Herm

The small island of Herm lies about 3mi/5km northeast of St Peter Port. Although the resident population is only about 100, Herm attracts up to 3,000 visitors a day during the summer. The island has a hotel, a number of old stone built houses converted into holiday homes, and a camp site. Many species of rare flowers and plants thrive in the moderate climate; also, more than 200 different kinds of shell are found at Shell Beach on the north coast.

Tom Thumb Village

Tom Thumb Village, its houses lovingly restored, provides a charming diversion.

Sark

Sark, the jewel of the Channel Islands, is the smallest of the main islands, with a population of about 500. It is unique in having largely preserved the old feudal system which once prevailed on all the islands, ruled in effect by one man, grandson of the Dame of Sark. Boats ply daily in summer from Guernsey and (less frequently) from Jersey, returning the same evening. The landing place is at La Maseline on the east side of the island.

Collinette

From La Maseline a steep track winds its way up the cliffs to the little hamlet of La Collinette, the island's main settlement, with a school, a church, an old manor house, a windmill (on the highest point) and of course, inns. There are a number of small guest houses scattered about the island. There are few roads and no cars, but the principal features of interest can easily be reached on foot.

Little Sark

The most rewarding walk is southwest to the part of the island known as Little Sark, over the rocky isthmus called La Coupée. After the last war a new track was constructed across this narrow and rugged neck of land which falls steeply more than 250ft/76m to the sea.

Port Gorey

The Little Sark path leads to Port Gorey and two very famous rock pools, the Bath of Venus and the Pool of Adonis; both offer good bathing at low tide.

Gouliot Caves

Beneath the bizarrely shaped cliffs overlooking Brecqhou are the interesting Gouliot Caves, filled with sea anemones etc. but only accessible at low water.

Havre Gosselin

A path from Gouliot Caves leads to the fishing harbor of Havre Gosselin, although there is little fishing done on Sark nowadays.

Dixcart Bay

Dixcart Bay, on the southeast side of the island, is another picturesque spot, where most of the island's holiday accommodation is found.

Le Creux Derrible

Le Creux Derrible is a cave with a natural, 180ft/55m cleft in its roof; the cave itself can only be reached at low tide, through two rock arches. There are a number of other smaller caves and plenty of interesting rock scenery, best seen by boat.

Alderney

Alderney (pop. 2,100), most northerly of the Channel Islands and the least visited because of its remoteness, is only 4mi/6km long and 1mi/2km wide. Its economy is based on vegetable and flower growing as well as tourism. The almost treeless island has beautiful sandy bays between much indented cliffs and rugged tors.

St Anne

The little town of St Anne, 1mi/1.6km from the harbor, dates from the 15th C. It has something of a French air, with cobbled streets, inns, snug looking pubs and shops.
St Anne has a mild climate, lots of sunshine and a picturesque harbor. Visitors can enjoy walking the cliffs, golfing, fishing and windsurfing

Two Sisters

In Telegraph Bay are two interestingly colored rocks known as the Two Sisters.

Burhou Island

The uninhabited Burhou, to the north of Alderney, 1mi/1.6km offshore, is a bird reserve; it can be visited by boat except in the nesting season.

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