Jersey – Channel Islands – lies some fourteen miles off the French coast, but belongs to Britain. Its history has been heavily influenced by its location between the shores of the UK and France, dating back more than one thousand years.
It is now a popular destination for tourists from both countries. Jersey’s capital city, St Helier, has a feeling of a small French town with its Royal Square lined with chestnut trees and paved with granite. In the adjoining streets there are pavement cafes, perfumeries, and bars that stay open all day. But there are reminders that Jersey’s nearest mainland neighbour was not always friendly. Looming above the harbour is Fort Regent, built between 1806 and 1814 when Napoleonic France seemed poised to invade. On a rocky islet in the bay stands an earlier fortress, the sixteenth century Elizabeth castle.
Linked to St Helier by a seafront road, promenade and cycle track, St Aubin was Jersey’s original port. It has a small harbour built in 1675, and in the narrow streets above are some of the houses built by merchants who used the port.
Not far away is Portelet Bay. The beauty of this rocky little bay can best be appreciated from Noirmont Point, a bluff headland on the eastern side. Wooded hills rise steeply from the foreshore, where a sandy beach is exposed at low tide. Just off the shore is an islet, Ile au Guerdain, crowned by an eighteenth century Martello tower, one of many in the Channel Islands built as defences.
One of the most popular beaches in jersey can be found at St Brelade’s Bay. At low tide there is a mile of firm, golden sand, bathing is safe, and water sports including windsurfing and water skiing can be had. The beach is backed by an attractive promenade with palm fringed gardens and fountains.