Exotic Europe – Guernsey Island
An hour before the ferry departed, we drove our minivan up to the Jersey seaport. At the checkpoint a local officer started explaining something to Denis, who was sitting in front of us. Since the barrier wasn’t going up, we suspected that there were complications.
Originally the plan was to take the ferry to Guernsey, drive around the island and come back the next day in the same car. But, it turned out that the rules had recently changed and now you can’t leave Jersey in a rental car. Sometimes I like it when a trip doesn’t go according to plan:)
I didn’t understand exactly, I think some kind of permit is needed. In such a short time it is unreal to solve this question, so we left the minivan at the parking and went on foot with suitcases.
I told you about Jersey in my previous post Exotic Europe – Jersey Island.
Its little brother Guernsey is very close. It’s second biggest in size (63 km²) among the Channel Islands.
The Crown Estate of Guernsey includes in addition to the island of the same name the islands of Alderney, Sark, Herm, Djeto, Breku, Lihu, Burchu, Kaskets, Ortak, Crevishon, Ume and many small uninhabited islands and cliffs. The total area of the entire territory is 78 km².
You can also get to Guernsey by plane, but our logistics were built in a different way, and by ferry is more interesting and cheaper.
It is not necessary to fly here separately, the ideal option is to add to your main trip in England or Northern France for 2-3 free days for a brief acquaintance with these two islands.
It’s just over an hour and we’re off the coast of Guernsey, a crown possession of the British crown, but not part of Great Britain.
In 933 the Channel Islands became part of the Duchy of Normandy. In 1066 the Duke of Normandy became King William I of England.
138 years later King John the Soothless lost most of the Duchy of Normandy, but Guernsey and the other Channel Islands remained under English rule. During this time the island developed its own system of government and the institutions of parliamentarianism, and today it is a self-governing territory.
English and French, as well as the Guernsey dialect, are used in the country. The population is slightly more than 62 thousand people.
Plant growing (horticulture, greenhouse floriculture, viticulture, potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower), animal breeding (cattle, sheep breeding) are developed. Fishery (flounder, mackerel) and oyster breeding are practiced.
Considerable income brings islanders the status of “tax paradise”: since 1960th years offshore companies are registered here.
The island issues its own money – the Guernsey pound.
In 1993 a program was launched to protect the military-historical values of the island. On the coast of Guernsey you can see many castles, forts, fortresses and observation towers, which are a legacy of the rich military past of the island, as the geographical position contributed to it.
Below in the picture, the flag, coat of arms and marked points on the map, where you have had time to visit. More precisely, these are the places where we stopped to get acquainted with the site in detail. Driving on the roads of Guernsey we saw a lot more.
Since we left one big car in Jersey, we had to take two small cars here (what was available). Here they are, our Jersey red beauties (or beauties). Each rental vehicle is labeled with the letter H.
We started our trip around the island by visiting St Martin’s Point Lighthouse and Cornet Castle (number 1 on the map). We didn’t go inside the castle, we decided to see it from the outside. About the “biting price” for admission tickets I wrote – from 800 to 1500 rubles. A lot of castles and fortresses on the three islands, so we had to save money:)
Cornet Castle was the main defensive structure of the harbor town of St. Peter-Port. It was built between 1206 and 1256 after the conquest of the islands by England. In 1339, after the French conquest of the islands, the castle was taken and destroyed and the garrison exterminated.
In 1545-1548 the castle was rebuilt, and served as the residence of the Governor of Guernsey, after the fortress was moved in 1566 to the island of Crevishon. In 1672 the castle’s armoury was struck by lightning and destroyed by an explosion, killing many of its occupants, including the governor’s mother and wife.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the castle was included in the fortifications of the port, and in 1887, to the 50th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria a marina was built nearby. During the First World War, it served as a base for seaplanes.
The lighthouse next to the castle was erected in 1868. The strength of the light is such that it can be seen from the neighboring island of Jersey, and in case of thick fog, the lighthouse emits a powerful beep every 15 seconds, which is vital to sailors.
Our second point, in the center of the island, was extremely noteworthy. Before you, one of the smallest chapels in the world.
This chapel the monk Deodat began to build in 1914 and only the third time (in 1923) it was completed in its present form.
Inside and outside Little Chapel is decorated with seashells, pebbles and broken china. It all looks unusual.
The attraction is a must-see, so I will tell you about it in a separate post with more pictures.
Then we went to the north of the island and then along the coast headed west. On the way there were numerous fortifications of Guernsey, which appeared here in the period of the XVIII-XX centuries.
Some of them I viewed through my lens and accordingly photographed from afar. Pictured here is Fort Gray, a Genoese tower built by the British in 1804 to defend against Napoleon’s army. It is named after Charles Gray, who was governor of Guernsey from 1797 to 1807.
Others we came close to. This is the Grande Rocque battery (number 4 on the map).
The view from above is of a beautiful beach and a small Guernsey town.
Rousse Tower surrounded by wildflowers (number 3 on the map). Allergy sufferers would have a hard time taking this tower by storm:)
Especially here there is a cannon battery, almost on standby.
Personally, I was most impressed with Fort Hommet. It was built on the site of fortifications that date back to 1680 and consists of the Martello Tower (1804), later additions in the Victorian era, bunkers and casemates erected by the Germans during World War II.
Parts of the defensive fortress reminded me of mysterious Peruvian structures: incomprehensible joints, corners and different architectural styles. It looks very cool.
And all this military splendor stands on the beach, where there is also something to photograph.
The last point of the busy day was the wonderful Imperial Hotel (number 6 on the map). As you can see, Guernsey also has high tides. There’s a cool staircase leading up to the beach from the hotel.
The water in the sea is cool, but, some comrades have a tradition and so they, no matter what, swim anywhere in the world:)
We started the new day with a visit to a very picturesque observation deck (number 7).
Nature never ceases to amaze me with its creative taste and it continues to spoil me regularly with bright colors.
Of course, everyone in the group wanted to capture themselves in the background of this amazing picture of Hernsey.
The roads on the island are good, but sometimes you take a wrong turn and end up on a cozy “meadow track” like this. The grass and flowers can be stroked with the palm of your hand without leaving the car.
The romantic journey was over and it was time to return to the starting point – the capital of Guernsey, St. Peter’s Port.
The day before, we hadn’t seen much of it. We arrived at the port, saw the fort with the lighthouse and left immediately. So the full-fledged acquaintance began only now.
The city seems to be small, but there are a lot of historical buildings and beautiful buildings.
Victoria Tower – built in honor of the very first visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to the island in 1846.
Now for the most important part. Guernsey is where most of the events of Victor Hugo’s novel The Toilers of the Sea unfold. It offers vivid descriptions of the nature and sights of Guernsey in the first half of the XIX century, as well as the life and manners of the natives of the island.
When Napoleon III in. 1851 Napoleon III seized power in France, Hugo was forced into exile and settled with his family on the British island of Guernsey, near the coast of Normandy. There he spent 15 years and wrote some of his best works, including three collections of poetry and the novel Les Misérables.
A monument to the writer in the center of the capital.
In Guernsey, Hugo bought a house called “Otville” (the locals believed that the ghost of a suicidal woman lived there) and began to repair and rebuild his dwelling.
One of the most significant innovations was an all-glass observation deck on the roof, like a small greenhouse.
From here, from the highest point on the island, he had a panoramic view of the English Channel, and on clear days he could even see the French coast.
It was there that Hugo worked in the mornings, standing at the small table in front of the mirror. He would be awakened at dawn by the sound of a cannon from a nearby fort. The writer would rise and immediately receive a pot of fresh coffee and the usual message from Juliette Drouet, his lover, whom Hugo had settled in Guernsey just two blocks from his home.
After reading Juliet’s passionate confessions to his “beloved Christ,” Hugo would drink two raw eggs, lock himself in his “observation tower,” and write until eleven in the morning. Then he would go out on the roof and rinse himself with water from a barrel that had been left upstairs since nightfall, pour ice-cold water over himself, and rub his body with a glove made of horsehair. Source
Soon, we turned in the cars and boarded the ferry to Jersey again. I managed to get a couple hundred shots in St. Peter’s Port, so we’ll walk through the capital together in a little more detail later.
I’ve given you the broad outlines of our Guernsey trip. Now it’s turn for the next British “man’s island”.
P. S. And this is my last picture, taken on the ferry a few minutes after sailing. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen dolphins in the wild. Too bad it was only one photo, although they were jumping around for a few minutes.
Guernsey and its attractions
Guernsey Island, with its lush gardens, enticing sea bays, and gorgeous sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean, has an incredibly inviting atmosphere.
Where is it
Guernsey is 50 kilometers off the coast of French Normandy, in the English Channel.
It is part of the Channel Islands. French influence is therefore evident. It is expressed both in street names and local cuisine. However, the island is a British Crown land, but not part of the United Kingdom.
A little about Guernsey
The population of the island is just over 66,000 people. Despite its small size, just 62 km 2, Guernsey has its own unique identity.
Although the island is a self-governing territory of the British crown, but the locals immediately make it clear that they are not part of the United Kingdom or the European Union.
Attentive travelers will notice some differences, such as blue mailboxes and the use of digital license plates (no letters).
On May 9, Liberation Day, islanders celebrate the end of the German occupation of World War II. Towns all over the island are decorated with flags.
The pace of life here is certainly more relaxed than in Britain. So tourists can take their time, wander the coast, play golf and stroll the streets of the beautiful capital city of St. Peter’s Port.
Guernsey’s attractions are interesting and varied. Here you’ll find a small chapel, Cornet Castle and the house of Victor Hugo. Guernsey is also a great starting point to explore the other Channel Islands. Not far away are the islands of Herm, Sark and Jersey.
St. Peter Port
This is the charming capital of Guernsey Island. Here you’ll walk through the cobblestone streets that stretch from its picturesque wharf and lead you to a multitude of attractions. Such as the Guernsey Tapestry in the St. James Concert Hall Gallery and Otville House, the former home of French writer Victor Hugo.
The island’s capital is an incredibly interesting and tranquil town
Note, on the south side stands Cornet Castle.
Cornet is the largest and most famous castle on the island.
A little further south you’ll find three Victorian swimming pools, the La Vallette Underground Military Museum, and the Guernsey Aquarium.
Remarkably, the port in the capital is actually the most secure in all the Channel Islands. In addition, it has been in existence for over 2,000 years.
An interesting fact – since Guernsey is now a well-developed offshore financial center, most of the international banks are located here.
Above the harbor in St. Peter’s Port rises Cornet Castle. Built between 1206 and 1256 after the partition of the Duchy of Normandy, it has absorbed the influence of many eras, up to and including the German occupation in World War II.
Today, Château Cornet is a popular sightseeing spot on Guernsey.
There are five museums here. The Cornet Castle Historical Museum, the 201st Squadron Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum and the Royal Guernsey Militia Museum.
From March to November, cannons are fired here daily at noon. From April to September, the castle hosts open-air theatrical performances.
Other castles and fortresses
Fortified structures are scattered all along the coast. Among them is Vail Castle in St. Sampson. It dates back to the 15th century.
On the north coast is the fortress of Ruse. It is a tower of the 18th century. It is open to the public.
Also on the northern shores you will find Fort Pembroke, Fort Marchant and Fort Doyle.
It should be noted that on almost every promontory you will see a fort of varying degrees of attraction.
Victor Hugo House.
Otville House is the famous home of the writer Victor Hugo. The house stands on Hauteville Street in the southern part of the island’s capital. It was here that he wrote his novel Workers of the Sea (set in St. Sampson).
In 1914, the French government donated a statue of Victor Hugo to Guernsey. It now stands in Candy Gardens, about a mile north of the house itself.
Walking on the cliffs
Of the 67 kilometers of coastal trails on Guernsey, many tourists prefer walking along the south coast. The path usually starts from La Vallette and ends at Plainmont.
The views across the Channel are spectacular.
Every May and September, the island hosts walking festivals with guided tours galore.
Snorkeling and diving are very popular here among both beginners and professionals.
Divers enjoy the variety of marine life on the reefs, but experienced divers can explore one of Guernsey’s many shipwrecks.
German Occupation Museums
There are four museums on the island devoted to the history of the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II.
These are the German Underground Hospital in La Vassalerie, the German Occupation Museum in Forest (with a reconstruction of the occupied street), the La Valletta Underground Military Museum in the town of the same name, and the German Naval Museum in Saint-Jacques.
Beaches of Guernsey
There are 27 beaches on the island. Vazon Bay in the north is the largest. It is a great beach for surfing. L’Erie Bay in the west boasts a wide sickle-shaped beach with gorgeous soft white sand.
Some of the beaches here are very similar to the tropical
East-facing Fermaine Bay is another great place for swimmers and sunbathers.
This island can be reached on foot, but only during a certain period of just a couple of hours at low tide. Lihu Island is famous for its large bird colonies.
To get to the island go down the cliffs to the Venus Pool. This is a deep and sheltered rock pool that is great for swimming. The starting point of the crossing will be the tower of Fort Saumarez.
The Little Chapel at Les Vauxbelets is considered the smallest church in the world. There is room for a priest and only five parishioners.
This chapel is the charming creation of a Benedictine monk, Brother Deodat Antoine. He carefully inlaid it inside and out with thousands of pebbles, shells, and colorful shards of broken porcelain.
This little church looks more like a gingerbread house.
As you can see, the Little Chapel is no less remarkable inside than outside.
Ancient dolmens (Neolithic tombs) are found on the island.
The Dehus Dolmen in Vail is the best-kept dolmen in Guernsey.
Inside the dolmen, a man with a beard is depicted. In his hands he holds a bow and arrow.
Another interesting dolmen is Le Trepier on a hill overlooking the bay of Perel. It is located near Lihu Island. It is noteworthy because it is considered a meeting place for witches.
There is a small harbor on the shingle beach of Roquan Bay. This is where the popular Rockuen Summer Regatta takes place. It lasts all day and also includes raft races.
At one end of the bay stands Fort Gray. It is a tower built in 1804 to protect the west coast.
Affectionately nicknamed “cup and saucer,” Fort Grey serves as the Shipwreck Museum.
Check out this historic estate in St. Maarten. Do not confuse it with the island of St. Maarten.
Sausmarez Manor – a real haunted house
From May through October, there’s a haunted tour on Thursday evenings. And every Saturday morning there is a farmer’s market with several stalls. It sells fresh local produce. You’ll also find a subtropical garden with beautiful sculptures on the estate.
Sark and Herm Islands
Take at least a day to visit the islands of Sark and Herm. The islands are 10 and 5 km from Guernsey respectively.
The island of Sark has some pretty interesting hiking trails
They have a long and mysterious history. It’s all thanks to the pirates who once inhabited these lands. Pirates used lights to lure ships to the cliffs and then rob them.
Mystical Corners of Guernsey
Guernsey Island folklore abounds with tales of fairies, witches, werewolves, and other supernatural beings.
One place known as Le Variouf is named after werewolves. Some people say that, indeed, scary furry beasts roam here at night. Others say it’s just a legend. And it was spread by smugglers to hide their nocturnal activities, while the locals hid in their houses out of fear.
Another mystical place is Le Creux es Faies. It is a Neolithic tomb dating back to about 3000 BC. It is affectionately known as the entrance to the magical kingdom, the underworld from which the fairies came.
You can also visit the Table des Pions. This is the name of a large arrangement of stones known locally as the ring of the fairies.
It is said that if you go around the ring three times and make a wish, it will definitely come true.
This is the name of the six-week food extravaganza that has been taking place all over the island since October. During this time, more than 50 restaurants on the island compete for the best fixed-price menu they can put together. It’s the perfect time to sample fresh dishes from the island’s top chefs. For information on tour operators, excursions and itineraries, visit Visitguernsey.com