Jersey – not quite British or French, but inextricably linked with both. This tiny island is unique and famous for a lot. Most visitors are lured by its rich history, picturesque walking and cycling trails, outdoor water sports and luxury spas. But most of all, people come for the best beaches in the British Isles.
Here are some of the fascinating details that make Jersey famous:
The Best Beaches in the Channel Isles
It might be the largest island in the Channel Isles. However, it is still fair to say it is a tiny island with a mammoth 20 miles (32km) of coastline that boasts sandy, swimmable beaches.
Better yet, Jersey has a low tide twice a day, almost doubling the size of the island with miles of extra sand and rock pools to explore and play in.
If that isn’t enough, Jersey has lovely long rollers to surf. It is rumoured that a bunch of South African lifeguards arrived in 1950 after being inspired by an advertisement they saw in a UK cinema. They moved to the island to enjoy the surfing, while showing the locals how to surf. Shortly after, Jersey became a surfing hotspot.
Thanks to Anthony Trollope, a prolific Victorian novelist, Jersey became the first place in the British Isles to have a post box. Trollope’s day job was working for the postal service. He was sent to the Channel Islands on assignment to determine how the postal system could be improved. He suggested the simple pillar-box, and the first of its kind in Britain, was installed in St Helier in 1845. The original post boxes were green but changed to the familiar bright red around 20 years later.
Even though the currency is sterling, you will also see Jersey pounds. And many of them are moving through the banks to take full advantage of the island’s offshore tax haven status.
Jersey is scattered with visible reminders of the five years of German occupation during WWII. The war tunnels were an extensive network of tunnels created by prisoners of war. The preserved tunnels are open to the public, and the exhibits are a poignant reminder of the life of the Islanders under the Nazis.
Jérrais is the language that used to be spoken on the island, along with French and English (now the official language). It is an ancient Jersey-Normandy language that provided a way to communicate sensitive information during the German occupation.
Only a few of the older islanders speak Jérrais, but there is a move to have the language reintroduced into the schools to preserve the heritage.
Black butter is an island speciality and doesn’t remotely resemble the everyday dairy product. It is a traditional farmhouse delicacy concocted to use up the massive abundance of apples picked every autumn. For centuries, Islanders used to come together and make the black butter, where it would become a social event involving singing and telling stories into the night. It is a declining cultural art form, but the National Jersey Trust continues to put on an annual event, calling for volunteers to be involved in the production.
The Jersey Royal potato may be just a humble spud, but due to Jersey’s unique climate, soil conditions along with the seaweed fertiliser that is used on the farms – a papery skinned, flavour-bursting potato has been consistently produced for centuries. Some of the wineries even make vodka with this type of local potato.
It is so distinctive it has been put on the Protected Designation of Origin list. This means that no one can use the name for another product.
These are just some of the interesting facts that help make Jersey famous. When you visit and immerse yourself in the history and culture, you will be constantly surprised and enlightened.
Would you like to learn more about Jersey? Then don’t miss the following article: Discover the mouthwatering delights of Jersey, Channel Islands