Travel to the Island of Guernsey – Walks, Activities, Driving, Festivals, Accommodations

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Just four by six miles in size, the island of Guernsey sits in the English Channel south of England and 30 miles west of France. Guernsey’s cobbled streets, picturesque seafront, 800-year-old Castle Cornet, musical events, festivals, great restaurants, quiet coves, and sprawling beaches make it a great tourist destination.

WALKS and ACTIVITIES

28 miles of walking trails along Guernsey’s clifftops offer stunning views and provide access to quiet coves for sunning and paddling. While setting off on your own is sure to provide a great experience, to make the most of your visit take a professionally guided walk or a self-guided walk with audio.

Guided Walks are available year round and can be booked through Guernsey Tourism. Local guides are entertaining and knowledgeable. Guided walks take visitors to hidden places and provide a glimpse of Guernsey’s fascinating history of pirates and privateers, famous writers, and Nazi invasion.

Self-Guided Walks – Audio guides and maps are available for free download from Guernsey tourism for 15 self-guided walks suitable for all ages and abilities. One of the most popular follows the footsteps of Victor Hugo’s favourite coastal walk from St Peter Port through the bluebell woods, along the cliffs, and down to Fermain Bay.

The more active and adventuress travellers can enjoy kayaking, surfing, or coasteering by booking outings with a number of outdoor activity organizers. Brochures and contact details are available at the tourist centre in St Peter Port.

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Island Hopping to one of the ‘car-free’ neighbouring islands of Herm and Sark is easy and recommended. Ferries run regularly from St Peter Port. Ferries to Herm, a pedestrian only island with stretches of white sandy beaches and stunning gardens, take twenty minutes. Ferries to Sark, where transportation options include foot, bicycle, tractor, or horse and carriage, take just under an hour.

HISTORY

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Victor Hugo called the island “the rock of hospitality and freedom”. During the fifteen years the author lived on Guernsey, he wrote some of his most important work, including Les Miserable and Toilers of the Sea. From April to September, visitors to Guernsey can tour Hugo’s rambling, tall, white, villa, in St Peter Port. The house remains as it was in 1879 and provides a rare insight into the wild imagination and private life of one of the world’s most famous writers.

One of the most significant periods in Guernsey’s history was the five-year occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. Fortifications and bunkers along Guernsey’s coastline still bear testament to the German occupation of the island. The German Occupation Museum and the Underground Military Museum, set in a complex of air-conditioned tunnels built by German forces, provide a look into the hardships of life under Nazi rule. Each year the islanders celebrate ‘Liberation Day’ with a week of festivities and events culminating on the 9th of May.

DRIVING IN GUERNSEY

For good reason, the island’s maximum speed limit is 35 miles per hour with a typical speed limit of 25 miles per hour on main roads and 15 miles per hour on country lanes, called Ruettes Tranquilles, where walkers, cyclists, and horse-riders have priority.

Caution! Guernsey’s roads are narrow and in rural areas, virtually all are single lane. Some roads are so narrow that only one car can drive down at a time so be prepared to reverse if someone is coming from the opposite direction. Finding your way around can be challenging. There are few signposts and no ‘normal’ street signs; occasionally, road names are posted on granite walls.

Special Rules: Instead of a ‘Stop’ sign, most junctions have a yellow grid painted in the road, and a triangular “Filter” sign. This is Guernsey’s unique “filter in turn” system. All directions have equal priority and cars “filter” through the junction in turn. A solid yellow line across the exit of a minor road means STOP.

Lastly, in Guernsey, LEFT is the official side of the road.

Tip: The island wide bus service originates and ends in St Peter Port and is a great, and inexpensive, way to see the island without driving.

FESTIVALS

From May through September, the main town, Peter Port, comes alive with food festivals, town carnivals, farmer’s markets, and summer shows and events. Here are just a few…

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La Viaer Marchi (Guernésiais for ‘The Old Market) 6 July 2015

A fun evening showcasing local craftsmanship from Guernsey’s past and Traditional Guernsey delicacies like Guernsey Bean Jar, Guernsey Gâche (fruit bread),  and La Rocquette cider.

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St Peter Port Music Festival and Town Carnival  18th -25th July 2015

Also known as “La Faete d’la Musique a la Ville” this week-long music festival features free performances by local and international artists. The festival kicks off with a parade winding through St Peter Port leading spectators to the venue of the first performance. Entertainment runs daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various locations throughout the Town. On the final day,  the seafront closes for the ‘Town Carnival’ complete with clowns, face painters, bands, strolling musicians, Punch and Judy, and outdoor dining.

Rocquaine Regatta Saturday 25 Jul 2015

A fun-filled day for all ages with over 40 events including rowing races, pavement artists, volleyball, football, greasy pole, tug of war, beach bikes, sand castles, sand sculpture, treasure hunts, and the infamous raft race. The day ends with a barbecue and live music.

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North, West, and South Agricultural and Horticultural Shows

Agricultural and horticultural shows with funfairs, tractor competitions, craft demonstrations, equestrian events, livestock competitions, arena entertainment, music, refreshments, and firework displays. Visitors gain a feel for local customs, costumes, traditional Guernsey dancing, and community spirit. The North Show is famous for ‘The Battle of Flowers’ featuring a parade of flower covered floats.

2015 Show Dates:

South – 14th – 15th August

West – 19th – 20th August

North – 26th —27th August

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Guernsey International Food Festival  18 -27 September

If you are a ‘Foodie’, this is the best time to visit Guernsey. Restaurants and Cocktail Bars offer fantastic promotions and there are specialty markets, exhibitions, and cooking demonstrations throughout the festival. Restaurants are plentiful and most serve freshly caught fish, lobsters, crabs, and scallops.

Walking Festival Weeks

For two weeks each Spring and Autumn, the island offers a full spectrum of professionally guided walks for all fitness levels and are a great way to exercise while discovering Guernsey’s hidden history and natural beauty. Walks last from 1 to 3 hours and cost £6 each (one free ‘walk’ coupon per person available at visitor’s centre).

Spring Walking Festival  2nd May to 16th May

Autumn Walking Festival  5th September  to 19 September

ACCOMODATION

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The best choice for 3 days or more are ‘self-catering’ apartments, which provide the flexibility to cook meals, relax in spacious accommodation. They are typically less expensive than a hotel room. Self-catering accommodation is readily available across island and star rated by tourism. Standards and guest services vary so guests should check websites and speak directly with owners before booking.

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Where to stay: The main town of St Peter Port offers visitors the greatest choice of activities and its position on the seafront makes it convenient for day trips, water activities, shops, and restaurants. Visitors staying in St Peter Port have the advantage of not needing a car, which is a consideration because of Guernsey’s narrow roads and special rules.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

What to read before you go? The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.  The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G.B. Edwards

When to visit? The weather is typically good April through September. For lowest priced airfares and accommodation, avoid July and August. Overall, Guernsey’s climate is temperate with comfortable springtime temperatures and warm sunny summers.

How to get there: Three airlines offer flights to Guernsey daily from a number of UK airports. Flights from the UK take as little as 30 minutes. Direct flights operate from Dinard in Brittany and from other European destinations via Jersey. Condor Ferries offer fast (2 ½ hours) and overnight sailings from a choice of south coast ports.

Author’s Bio:

Tracey Sadler manages The Albany Apartments in St Peter Port Guernsey and has lived on the island for over thirty years.

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by Tracey Sadler

Tracey Sadler manages The Albany Apartments in St Peter Port Guernsey and has lived on the island for over thirty years.

One Response to “Travel to the Island of Guernsey – Walks, Activities, Driving, Festivals, Accommodations”

hometoitaly

Says:

this article is PERFECT timing. i need to reach Tracey with some particular questons, do you have an email address?

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