IT has played understudy to the more popular main island Jersey for years but now people are looking towards Guernsey as a quieter, more relaxing break away from the expanding Jersey crowds.
Television shows like ITV’s Island Hospital have helped increase Guernsey’s profile and people are discovering its unspoilt natural way of life.
The domain of Guernsey covers the main island that bears the name plus three satellite islands – Alderney, Herm and Sark. All offer a heady mix of stunning scenery and the best of contemporary living. Inspiring walks along the cliff paths, rambles through the rural interior or lazy days on the island’s beautiful beaches, Guernsey has it all.
St Peter Port, the island’s capital, is a bustling harbour town, a blend of architectural styles that tell the story of the region’s changing fortunes. Fought over for centuries, its most recent turbulent history saw it survive occupation by the Nazis during World War II. There are reminders of these dark days all across the island which are well worth a visit.
Bistros, restaurants and boutiques jostle for your attention, while in the harbour ferries are readied to take you to the sister islands.
Today the town is a captivating blend of styles, framed by a tumble of terraces and tiered gardens and criss-crossed by worn steps and hidden alleys.
Shopping in Saint Peter Port
Electronic and photographic equipment, jewellery and perfume are all good, low duty buys, along with wines, spirits and tobacco and of course the famous Guernsey jumper.
Small boutiques offer exclusive clothes, shoes and leather goods, whilst the Old Quarter is the place to find antiques.
Guernsey has had its share of famous residents in the past. The famous French writer Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables, arrived in Guernsey with his wife Adele in 1855 and lived her in exile until 1870 following his expulsion from France during the coup d’etat in 1852. Their home Hauteville House is one of the island’s fascinating attractions.
Alderney day trips
It’s great to take a day trip to Alderney – it’s full of surprises. Expect to see blond hedgehogs, 300 species of bird and a toy railway with ex-London Underground coaches.
The blonde hedgehogs became extinct in the mid-19th Century on the islands but were reintroduced by visitors in the early 20th Century. Their distinct light coat and spine make them one of the island’s most unusual residents.
Twenty minutes from Guernsey by boat, Herm Island is just a mile and a half long and half a mile wide.
It is managed like an estate by a family firm which bought the lease in 2008. Once on the paradise island you can enjoy beautiful unspoilt beaches and a safe, clean pollution-free environment. There are no cars, no crowds and definitely no stress.
You can choose to stay longer on Alderney if you wish – either in a self catering cottage or at the White House Hotel, the only hotel on the Island, where there are no telephones, televisions or clocks. The perfect place to literally get away from it all!
Outdoor types can pitch their tents at the island’s campsite which boasts glorious views across to Sark and the French coast.