Off-season getaways are the best. Fewer crowds, more affordable accommodations and a different point of view. Tom, Dagny, and I spent two nights in Jersey, Channel Islands, and I wanted to share a little bit of our trip with you. Before moving to France in 2012, I knew very, very little about Jersey and am so happy we were finally able to go!
If you’re curious about how to get to Jersey, check out this post I wrote about how we took our car on the ferry. Condor Ferries is an easy, stress-free way to travel from Saint Malo to the Channel Islands. I look forward to doing it again and it’s hands down my preferred way to travel — you have your own car and can bring your dog.
First, let me give you a recap of Jersey. Home to about 106,000 people, Jersey is part of the Channel Islands and is 71 kilometers north of Saint Malo in the English Channel. The island is only 118 square km (45 sq miles) in area. It’s one of the three British Isles island territories that are called Crown Dependencies but it’s not part of the European Union and Jersey is a self-governing entity not considered a part of the UK either. Keep in mind that you drive on the left. The currency is the pound sterling.
So let me start with my first impressions of the island. Jersey is one of those places that just feels good. Being on the coast or on an island is always restorative for me so I couldn’t get enough of the views like the one above. A weekend trip means you know you’re getting away from your routine and the stresses of daily life and when you arrive on the island, you shift into vacation mode. We took it all in — the crisp fall air, the sea, the gorgeous homes and scenery out of a magazine. It’s the perfect place for someone like me who loves beaches in the winter.
Maybe it was the Christmas decor in Saint Helier that instantly put me in good spirits or stumbling upon some homemade Jersey cupcakes that reminded me of home. Or maybe because Dagny came with us and was a champ on the ferry. Whatever it was, it just felt good to be on an island breathing in the cool air with my husband and dog after a whirlwind summer.
Although the island has bus service, bring your car or rent one. It’ll be the easiest way to get around. You can do a loop of the island in a little over an hour and find fun places to stop.
Something to note is that Jersey is NOT a budget destination. Accommodations are not cheap, even in the off-season. Many hotels do not allow pets, which surprised me (the 5-star Longueville Manor does though), so be sure to figure out accommodations well in advance.
We stayed at Amani, a 9-apartment villa run by a lovely woman named Jan. I highly recommend Amani and would stay there again next time. The accommodations are perfectly located just a stone’s throw from the beach in Saint Brelade and generously equipped with everything you might need. We wanted to have our own kitchen so we weren’t obligated to eat out at every meal so it made more sense than staying at a hotel for us. Also, there’s parking on-site and it’s a comfortable place to stay.
So comfortable and cozy, in fact, that I took full advantage of the bathtub and bathrobe, which I especially appreciated. When it started raining outside, we came back to the apartment and I decided to test out the tub. I was in my cozy glory.
One factor that makes up for Jersey being expensive is that there’s no VAT on goods imported into Jersey, which normally adds 20% to the cost. Since 2011, there’s been a 5% Goods and Services Tax, though. You can save money when you shop in Jersey and get especially good deals on luxury goods if you’re used to European Union prices.
There are a bunch of walking paths and dog-friendly beaches in the off-season, and although the island is somewhat small at just 45 square miles, you don’t feel like you’re on an island. Jersey has everything you might need including supermarkets, a bustling downtown in Saint Helier for all your shopping needs, and a bunch of coffee shops and restaurants.
I always enjoy picking up some regional products and we couldn’t resist the Jersey fudge and the shortbread. I should have bought 5 boxes of these simple cookies that are just the right texture. Yes, they’re ridiculously good and perfect for afternoon tea or just because.
The next time we visit the Channel Islands, it’ll have to be for at least 3 nights. The sun sets around 4:40 p.m. in November so daylight is scarce. Jersey feels a lot like Brittany, France. The rugged landscapes felt familiar and you’ll hear a bit of French, as it’s the other official language along with English. Street names are in French and you’ll see that the names of places are often in French, too. You feel like you’ve left France but there’s just enough familiarity so that it doesn’t feel foreign.
Here’s a little thing I enjoyed: I loved going to Waitrose supermarket and seeing familiar things like real birthday cakes, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and a killer selection of vegetarian food.
It may seem silly to those of you who don’t live abroad, but little comforts of home count for a lot when you’ve chosen to live far away. The UK isn’t my home country but it seems familiar, in a way.
As I said, Jersey felt good. I can’t wait to go back!
Have you visited the Channel Islands? Tell me about your trip!
Disclosure: Aside from the complimentary trip on Condor Ferries, we footed the bill for our weekend in Jersey.