Guernsey is conveniently located between France and Great Britain with a population of 65,068 and thanks to this location the country has inherited some of the best of French and English traits. With coastal walks to rival the likes of England's Lake District, and hidden beaches to be discovered between rocky coves, Guernsey is the ideal destination for keen hikers.
Proud of its traditions, Guernsey also maintains its historic traditions through various events, the largest being the Viaer Marchi, a village festival, which takes place in the open field of Saumarez Park, three miles north-east of St. Peter Port, the first Monday of every July. This Old Market reminds us of all of the half-forgotten trades: weavers, wood turners, ironworkers.
A key part of every holiday is of course the local cuisine and Guernsey does not disappoint on this front either. The island has managed to maintain some of its culinary traditions whilst still being able to offer international cuisine for the modern traveller. To sample the specialties of the island, try bean jar soup or mixed jar striker. Street stands also display butter as made in the past, on cabbage leaves, next to pots of fresh yellow cream (this is normal, Guernsey cows absorb more carotene than other cattle on the grasslands), honey and homemade marmalade.<:p>
The Little Chapel (Les Vauxbelets, Rue de Bouillon, St Andrew's) - a miniscule version of the 'Our Lady of Lourdes' shrine in Lourdes - is possibly the smallest chapel in the world. Originally built in 1914 by Brother Déodat Antoine, the chapel was rebuilt three times before it looked the way it does today, and as a result, Déodat Antoine never lived to see its completion. Today the inside of the chapel is covered in seashells, pebbles and brightly coloured porcelain and glass.
Herm is within 30 minutes by boat from Guernsey, and Sark is within 45 minutes. The maritime shuttles (only passengers on foot, no cars) leave from St. Peter Port, where you can buy tickets for your journey. When planning your itinerary, allow a day trip per island. Special rates are provided for certain times of departure, but generally return tickets are priced at £10 to Herm and £20 to Sark. In Herm, do a tour of the island (1 hours walk), or alternatively visit the Neolithic tombs in the North. In Sark, visit La Seigneurie and its gardens - the island's equivalent to the House of Commons (only much smaller!).
+ Good travel links from West Europe with direct flights from most main cities and ferries between France, England and the Channel Islands
+ The Island's size (eight miles long and five miles wide) means it is easy to navigate and travel costs can be kept to a minimum
+ The preservation of certain old traditions offers travelers the chance to discover a diverse culture
+ Great food and a rich choice of culinary traditions to sample
+ Less crowded than Jersey
- The island's quaint character means there is little nightlife after 11:00pm
- The southern coast is steep (coves are a little difficult to access)
- For those who choose to drive on the island; roads are small and the steep hills on the southern coast can make it difficult to get around
Why not try an Annette Henry guided walking tour? This is a great opportunity to see the island on foot whilst also hearing about the heritage and culture from a native inhabitant of Guernsey. Henry offers eleven different types of tour, ranging from historic and cultural to creepy night tours. Whichever you choose, the experience of your guide (she has been leading tours in Guernsey for eight years) means you are guaranteed an interesting and informative experience!
If you are determined to drive to Guernsey, respect the speed limits (maximum of 35 mph or 56 kph) and pay attention to vehicles coming from the opposite direction. There is no room for manoeuvre, unlike most roads in mainland England: the edges are dotted with high walls or embankments. You should instead stop to make way; if not your mirror and vehicle will be quickly damaged.
Given the fact that the inhabitants of Guernsey have made such an effort to protect their traditions and culture, the local food should be sampled by all travellers. To sample this local cuisine, try bean jar soup (a thick soup with beans and meat), or striker melee (an apple brioche served in buttered slices). Other delicacies include honey from the island and marmalade made from local lemons or oranges. The golden milk provided by the world famous Guernsey cattle means the locals are also proud of the butter, cream and milk produced on the island.
To bring back
There are plenty of unique and low duty (unfortunately not completely tax free) items to be found at St Peter Port. The main port is the place to find electronic items, jewellery, alcohol and tobacco whilst the Old Quarter offers travellers and locals the chance to purchase antiques. As Guernsey is famous for its knitted impermeable wool, you may also want to take home a marine jacket or sweater. Just one word of advice - try the clothes before you buy: the wool can be a little itchy.