What to do on the island of Jersey? Beaches, restaurants, hotels and tunnels

It is an island closer to France than to England, and yet it is part of the British Isles.

It is home to miles of tunnels built during World War II, but by German rather than British soldiers.

And it has lower taxes than the UK and its own financial rules.

According to Amanda Burns, CEO of tourism agency Visit Jersey, the Channel island of Jersey is just eight kilometers long and nine kilometers wide, but offers plenty for visitors to see.

“We’re packing a big punch,” Burns told CNBC by phone. “What’s really interesting is…the geological uniqueness of the island, through history and heritage,” she said.

Located about 120 miles from England – and 14 from France – Jersey attracts visitors who travel to the island by ferry or short flight.

original jersey

Although English is primarily spoken, Jersey has its own language, which is not used anywhere else in the world. Jersey, sometimes called “Jersey French”, has developed over several centuries and is still used on the island.

A recent tourism campaign that highlights Jersey’s quirks has made the island’s mainland European influence a focal point.

“Curiously British…(ish)” is how the campaign describes the island – “the air of British familiarity gives way to a curiously continental feel”, it continues.

Visitors are also encouraged to experience Jersey food, such as island potatoes, known as Jersey Royals.

Potatoes can only be purchased in Jersey or mainland Britain. Although there is no official link with the British royal family, Jersey Royals had a protected designation of origin, or PDO, a label given by the EU to food products. that have the strongest ties to the place where they are made. Since Brexit, potatoes have been placed on a similar scheme in the UK.

Jersey Royal potatoes are only available in Jersey and mainland UK.

Source: Visit Jersey

Jersey business owner Marcus Calvani has built a business on oddly shaped Jersey Royals that don’t meet sales standards – he makes vodka with them, bottled as Fluke.

“It takes 25 pounds of Jersey Royals to make a bottle,” Calvani said. “It has a nice mouthfeel that’s… a little silky and viscous. And the odd thing you get out of it is a slight vanilla honeydew melon on the nose.”

Calvani borrowed the name from the potatoes’ original nickname: Jersey Royal Fluke, named when farmers were experimenting with growing this vegetable in the early 19th century, after the decline of cider orchards. The bottles will be available from high-end department store Harrods later this year, priced around £50 ($61) each.

Is Jersey part of the UK?

The short answer is no, but it is a “British Crown dependency”.

  • The relationship is explained on the British Royal Family website as follows: “There are three island territories in the British Isles which are known as Crown Dependencies; these are the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey which make up [the] Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The Crown dependencies are not part of the United Kingdom, but are self-governing possessions of the British Crown.”
  • The Channel Islands were part of the Duchy of Normandy in the 11th century – Normandy being a region in northern France – ruled by Henry I from 1106. Today Queen Elizabeth II is styled the Duke of Normandy on the islands.
  • Jersey is self-governing, with its own rules and administrative systems. Although it is not part of the UK, the UK government has a responsibility to defend it as well as maintain international relations.

History and Hogwarts

Jersey became a Crown dependency in 1290, shortly after the construction of Mont Orgueil Castle on the east coast of the island.

Burns described it as a “sort of Hogwarts castle”, referring to the fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter franchise. It sits above Gorey Harbour, which Burns called “a spectacular and iconic place”.

The 800 year old Mont Orgueil Castle in Jersey with The Moorings (blue building) in the foreground.

Source: The Moorings, Jersey

There are also ancient sites on the island, and in July the Prince of Wales was made patron of La Cotte de St. Brelade, a settlement in south-west Jersey which was inhabited by Neanderthals until there. 250,000 years old.

More recently Jersey was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War – the only part of the British Empire to be taken over by the Nazis – who built underground tunnels that travelers can visit.

The tunnels were created to protect the Germans from Allied air raids, and some parts are open to the public between March and October.

Friendly competition

Another quirk of the tiny island is the good-natured competition between its east and west sides, according to hotelier Iselin Jones, who runs with her husband Matthew The Moorings Hotel and Restaurantnear the castle of Mont Orgueil.

The port of St. Aubin, Jersey in the southwest of the island.

Source: Visit Jersey

“The island is very divided into ‘easties’ and ‘westies’, so either people like the east or people like the west,” she said. “It’s really the natural environment that is different. The west is very [about] the large arid sand dunes…while the east is much more of cliff paths and wooded areas.”

Saint-Ouen Bay, which stretches along much of the west coast, is popular with surfers, while Plemont Bay, to the north, reveals a sandy beach at low tide.

Jersey, which receives much more sunshine than the mainland, has traditionally attracted families looking for a bucket-and-shovel beach holiday and older people looking for a relaxing break. But Visit Jersey is also keen to attract “moment makers”, or young visitors who tend to document their travels on social media, Burns said.

Jersey is known for its seafood, such as the lobster and oysters seen here in the Bay of Saint-Ouen.

Pierre Longnus | The image bank | Getty Images

They reach “an ambitious audience,” Burns said. “The size of that audience is much larger, but in reality the competition is also more intense.”

Calvani of Fluke, which operates several food and drink outlets in Jersey, said the types of travelers coming to Jersey were changing.

“We saw younger, short-lived, city visitors,” he said. “And I think they love it: they eat well, they go to the spa, play a little golf…stay a couple of nights and then go home [city] apartment.”

Food and drink

JB’s Brewhouse, a craft brewery and barbecue smokehouse, is one restaurant in Calvani that draws visitors from further afield, he said.

“Americans who come to JB find it very amusing that we smoke like Texas cowboys, but eat tiny little Jersey cows,” he said.

Business owner Marcus Calvani runs JB’s Brewhouse, in St. Helier, Jersey, a bar and restaurant that sells Texas-style barbecues.

Source: Be Served Group

Burns said young visitors also like to visit Faulkner Fisheries, started by Jersey resident Sean Faulkner in 1980 for summer barbecues. with local scallops, lobster and oysters.

On the west coast of the island is The Atlantic Hotelwhich is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, whose chef Will Holland is something of a celebrity, having made appearances on British television cooking shows.

The Portelet Bay Cafe serves pizza and seasonal dishes to those descending its cliffside steps. And St. Helier, the island’s largest city, is home to Bohemia restaurant, which has held a Michelin star for 17 years.

Costs

Jersey is often seen as a tax haven – residents only pay 20% income tax, compared to up to 45% in the UK

According to Government of Jersey website. For those participating in the program, income above this level is taxed at 1%.

There is also no business tax to pay in many sectors, with the exception of financial services companies, taxed at 10%, and utility companies, taxed at 20%. This contrasts with the UK, where corporation tax is currently 19% for all businesses.

Jersey cows are famous for the rich, creamy milk they produce.

Matt Porteous | Digital vision | Getty Images

The financial sector employs about a quarter of the island’s working population, according to the trade agency Locate Jersey.

Still, the cost of living “can be high compared to other countries”, according to the island’s government website. The average house price on the island was £660,000 in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the UK average of £277,000, according to Jersey Statistics.

Costs are an issue for Calvani, which hosts some of its staff.

St. Helier Marina, the financial center of Jersey. The island is known for its tax incentives for residents and businesses.

Ian Gethings | open time | Getty Images

“We have just hired three new employees from Kenya,” he said. “These guys have a great education, great years of experience [but] housing them is the major problem. »

After working with Disney on stints in the United States, he said he considers Jersey a huge “theme park”.

“You have two gateways, at the airport and at the port…guesthouses and hotels, you have a main shopping center in St. Helier [and] masses of attractions,” he said.