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Jersey has been hotly contested through the centuries. Its strategic position between France and Britain has left a long legacy of fascinating historical sites. Here you can find medieval castles such as Mont Orgueil at Gorey and the evocative Jersey War Tunnels at St Lawrence created by German occupying forces during the Second World War. Today, Jersey is a unique and intriguing destination for both exploring and relaxing. Within the beautiful and varied coastline, the island has a gentle verdant green countryside rich in all kinds of flora and fauna. Split into 12 parishes, Jersey takes on its English persona very much with villages based around the parish church and the local pub all connected by leafy lanes ideally suited to cyclists and hikers. Along the way there are some fine vistas across rich woodland. Here you can also see fields that grow both the famous Jersey Royal Potato crop and provide pasture for cute doe-eyed Jersey cattle that supply the unique and deliciously rich dairy produce famously used in the Jersey cream tea. Jersey is truly a contrasting place, despite being only 116 square kilometres in size. Its isolation as an island and the reliance on land and sea create a genuine feeling that a visit to Jersey is a trip back in time to a more idyllic, less complicated world. St Helier, the capital, has an atmosphere and surroundings that assume a confident, affluent air of fine hotels and dining. Here you can also find luxury marinas and high-end shopping, mostly inspired by its high earning residents and its well established status as an off-shore banking centre.
For such a small island there is a wealth of attractions and activities to suit just about every age and taste here. History lovers of all periods will definitely find something of interest ranging from the Neolithic monument at La Hougue Bie to the legacy of preserved fortifications of the German occupation scattered around the island. The south is dominated by golden sweeps of fine sandy beaches such as St Aubin’s and St Brelade’s, while some of the world’s best surfing and wake-boarding can be found on St Ouen’s Bay on the west coast. In complete contrast, the north of the island is one dramatic cliff and headlands that shelter hidden coves and tiny fishing harbours such as Rozel and Bonne Nuit Bay. This is also one of the best places to observe bird life and, like the rest of the island, the area is interspersed with former German fortifications.
Surrounded by the sea, it is no surprise that Jersey is well known for its fish dishes and a range of quality seafood, with scallops, spider crabs, lobster and oysters taking the front seat. Other fish that feature high on seasonal menus include thick white monkfish, tasty bass and Jersey plaice, often eaten with a salad of locally grown lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. National specialities include Bean Crock, a variation on the French Cassoulet, La Soupe d’Anguilles (conger eel soup) and Fiottes (balls of flour, sugar and eggs, cooked in milk). The island is, of course, famous for the Jersey Royal potatoes. Try the unique Black Butter - made from local apples, its darkly sweet taste can be enjoyed straight off the spoon or as an accompaniment to cheese, Jersey ice cream or just toast. To finish off, try local apple brandy or a cream liqueur, or a Jersey produced wine from La Mare vineyards.
Taking a day time break from the day’s exertions, explorations or relaxations is a pleasurable affair in Jersey - whether it is with a traditional pot of tea with a slice of homemade cake topped with some fresh local strawberries and Jersey cream, Jersey Wonders (a deep fried doughnut-like a cake) or perhaps even a sandwich with locally caught fresh crab.
With a choice of traditional pubs, funky new bars, live music and al fresco dining, there is something here to exceed the expectations of even the most seasoned night owl. However, local laws dictate that 2.30am is the latest any venue can stay open. Despite these restrictions, the islands bar and club scene has grown by leaps and bounds over recent years, and there are multiple places for the young at heart to dance and enjoy the night away.
St Helier is the main focal point for shopping. Despite its small stature it has a good mix of retail stores featuring familiar high street brands as well as a wealth of independent smaller shops and boutiques, all within safe and easy walking distance of each other. The pedestrian precincts include King Street, where Voisins and De Gruchy department stores can be found. Queen Street, Bath Street and particularly Halkett Street are all go-to spots for designer labels. The small boutiques and men’s clothing shops take up much of the area. Popular specialities of the island when it comes to souvenirs, and a little self-indulgence, are jewellery, pearls, unique local pottery, homemade fudge and of course the famous knitwear. All of this can be found across the island. Jersey only has a 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax compared to the United Kingdom’s 17.5 per cent. It should be noted, however, that some items such as clothing can be a little more expensive than on the mainland.
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