A Cultural and Food-Filled Weekend in Jersey

Jersey has gained a bit of a reputation as a holiday destination for the rich and famous. But in this blog post, I would like to prove to you that there is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to this British Island.

Gary and I spent a wonderful weekend in Jersey last October and our itinerary can be easily replicated by anyone. All you need is a flight, a hotel and a rental car. Then you are all set for a cultural and food-filled 48 hours on this island renowned for its beautiful sunsets.

In fact, at only an hour flight from London, I would argue that Jersey is ideal for a weekend getaway. What a great way to escape the dreary weather in London!

JERSEY – FRENCH OR ENGLISH

Jersey belongs to the British Isles and is located just off the coastline of France (14 miles from the Normandy). If you are focusing purely on its geographical location, you might very well think that this Island is French. You might even notice that a lot of the street names on Jersey are French. The truth is that Jersey belongs neither to the United Kingdom nor to France. In fact, Jersey is a self-governing British Crown Dependency. Jersey was ruled by Normandy for nearly three centuries. However, in 1204, the islanders pledged allegiance to King John. That decision triggered a special relationship with the English crown, which continues to this day. Nonetheless, I could definitely sense a mix of cultures on this tiny turf of land. 

Jersey coastline with striking blue ocean

HOW TO GET TO AND AROUND JERSEY

The Island of Jersey lies 100 miles South West of mainland Britain. It might be the biggest of the Channel Islands but at 5 miles long and 9 miles wide it’s still extremely small. It is therefore terribly easy not only to reach the Island from London but also to get around it.

Gary and I didn’t even bother taking Friday off work (although I did leave a little early). Instead, we hopped on to the train after work and made our way to the airport. It then only took us just over an hour (that’s a 20-min check-in and a 40-min flight) to land at St Peter’s Airport. It actually took us longer to get from our office in London to Gatwick Airport than it did to fly from Gatwick into Jersey

We then hired a car from Hertz. They have a counter inside the lobby and the cars are all parked right outside of the airport. We didn’t need anything big or fancy. Our little blue Fiesta was perfect for the purpose of getting around the Island. You can book your car before your trip or as soon as you arrive. Oh and remember that they drive on the left-hand side of the road in Jersey, so just like on the mainland.

If you don’t fancy driving, then you will need to make use of the public bus system. Thankfully this has quite a good reputation and seems to run well throughout the island. There is a bus stop right outside of the airport. From here you can board a bus that will take you to St Helier- the capital of the island.

rental car from hertz in Jersey

WHERE TO STAY IN JERSEY – HOTEL LA PLACE 

Gary and I stayed at Hotel La Place whilst in Jersey and I cannot recommend this hotel enough. It is located in a village called Le Mont des Vignes, in the south west of the island. It only took us ten minutes by car from the airport to get there. That being said since Jersey is quite a small island you won’t need to travel very far, no matter where you are staying. 

What really stood out at Hotel La Place was the level of service we received during our stay. The staff were really friendly and we were greeted with a glass of pink champagne when we arrived. The hotel manager then drove us to the restaurant so that Gary could enjoy an alcoholic beverage. 

Both the bedroom and bathroom were gigantic and well laid out. In addition to the doubled bed, we had two armchairs and a little dining area. The room had a beachy vibe and was kept in cream colours. Furthermore, the room was well appointed with tea making facilities, a fridge, an ironing board and a safe. 

Breakfast on both mornings was excellent. There was so much choice and the food was of great quality. I obviously had a glass of mimosa (who wouldn’t?) and chose boiled eggs with soldiers the first morning and a full breakfast on the second one. 

exterior of hotel la place in Jersey
bedroom in hotel la place in Jersey
pastry buffet for breakfast at hotel la place in Jersey

DAY 1 – A RELAXED EVENING ENJOYING JERSEY’S SEA TREASURES

DINNER AT MARK JORDAN

Jersey is well known for its foodie scene. This is perhaps not surprising since some of this planet’s best ingredients can be found in the sea. There are so many great restaurants on this tiny island that you might find it difficult to make a choice. Thankfully Visit Jersey pointed us in the right direction.

On our first night in Jersey, Gary and I were booked in for dinner at Mark Jordan’s at the Beach, which I would highly recommend.  The bistro is owned in partnership by Mark, his wife and the owners of The Atlantic Hotel and has a more relaxed atmosphere than its sister restaurant Ocean. The restaurant was pretty busy though, so I would suggest you book ahead to avoid disappointment.

We started off our meal, with a platter of canapés that did more than wet my tongue –  anchovies and crab on toast, tasty olives and homemade truffle popcorn. We also tucked into a selection of freshly baked homemade bread whilst we looked at the menu.

I chose the poached Jersey Oysters with chive butter and the dish certainly lived up to expectations. I am not a huge fan of oysters, but these poached ones simply melted on my tongue. And the chive butter was to die for. Gary wasn’t too hungry that evening and so skipped the starter.

I then continued the fish theme for my main course and picked the Seabass served with Samphire and crushed Jersey potatoes. This was obviously an evening of firsts since I had never tried Samphire before. I can now say that I truly enjoy its crunchy saltiness.

Gary, on the other hand, got his meat fix. The staff brought out a huge sirloin steak with béarnaise sauce, at which point he confirmed that this was the best steak he had ever eaten.

I had saved some room for dessert and so opted for the White Chocolate Espuma. I have to admit that neither of us had heard of Espuma before. We found out that evening that it is a culinary foam originally perfected by the famous Spanish chef Ferran Adrià. It is lighter than a traditional sauce with the added benefit of a more concentrated flavour.

What can I say? We were utterly spoiled that evening and I cannot thank the staff enough. This truly was my foodie heaven.

oysters at Mark Jordans at the Beach
sea bass at Mark Jordans at the Beach in jersey

DAY 2 – ART NATURE AND GOOD FOOD

PAINTINGS OF SCOTLAND AT THE CCA

The next morning, we started our day off in St Helier – the capital of Jersey – where we were invited on a private tour of the CCA gallery

The Gallery is housed in a beautiful historic and listed building.  The interior has been transformed from a traditional law office into a stunning exhibition space that spans four floors and showcases the best local contemporary art. The exhibitions change on a regular basis and include paintings, limited edition prints and sculptures.  

To our delight that week the temporary exhibition featured sketches, oil paintings and silk prints from Louise Cattrell. Her very subtle art depicts various fictional scenes often inspired by the Scottish Landscape. It reminded both Gary and me of the country we once called home and so we couldn’t help but feel somewhat nostalgic. 

husband in cca art gallery in jersey
husband looking at paintings in cca art gallery in jersey

EXPLORING THE CITY CENTRE AND HARBOUR OF ST HELIER

After leaving the CCA we enjoyed a brisk walk around the capital of Jersey. There are quite a few pedestrianized streets and squares in the city centre, making it a great place for a morning stroll. Some parts of the city strongly reminded me of Paris, while others were unequivocally British. 

We spent about half an hour exploring the local shops, of which there are many. I was very tempted to buy some Black Butter but decided to hold off until we were back in the airport. 

Next, we made our way to Liberty Wharf, the old train station. With a few charming boutiques and small coffee shop; Liberty Wharf is definitely worth a visit if you are in the city. We greatly admired the statue of Liberation Square by Philip Jackson depicting a group of people holding the Union Flag and symbolising the liberation of the island from wartime occupation. 

Our next and final stop was the Marina. From here we could admire the views across St Aubin’s Bay and over to Elizabeth Castle, a 16th-century castle built on a small island. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit the castle. But if you are spending more than a weekend in Jersey, do pop in to witness the cannon firing and to meet the regimental surgeon. 

To be honest, I expected St Helier to be much smaller, but it is actually quite a large town.  

french square in st helier in jersey
freedom statue in st helier in jersey
husband walking along rampart in liberty wharf in jersey
husband overlooking liberty wharf in jersey

BRUNCH AT THE FAMOUS ORMER IN ST HELIER

By now, Gray and I were starving and greatly looking forward to lunch at Ormer. I had read great things about Shaun Rankin’s Michelin starred restaurant, and was therefore delighted to be invited to sample the menu.  Having gained is first Michelin star in 2005; Shaun Rankin is internationally renowned but has spent the last 18 years in Jersey promoting its local cuisine. Indeed the island is particularly famous for its dairy produce, potatoes and fruit and vegetables.  

Ormer is conveniently located in one of the pedestrianised streets in the centre of the capital. You can choose to eat outside on the terrace, in the dining room or the bar. There is also a private room that can be hired for functions on the first floor and a secret roof terrace with a humidor for cigar fans. The restaurant gained its Michelin start within only four months of its opening in 2013. So we were expecting great things. And let me tell you, we weren’t disappointed. 

Because it was lunchtime neither of us felt like having a particularly heavy meal. Gary, therefore, opted for the waffles from the brunch menu. They were served with salty peanut butter, sticky sweet caramel and fresh bananas. I bet your mouth is drooling just reading that. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the light three-course Tennerfest menu. Whilst the portion sizes were relatively small, each dish packed a punch. The starter, a sweet celeriac velour with crunchy granola and small chunks of apple and jelly, was like nothing I had ever eaten before. This was followed by a chicken terrine in a chestnut sauce.   

exterior of ormer shaun rankin restaurant in st helier in jersey
chef serving up dishes at ormer shaun rankin restaurant in st helier in jersey

AN AFTERNOON IN THE WETLANDS WITH THE NATIONAL TRUST  

After spending the entire morning in the capital, Gary and I couldn’t wait to head out into the countryside.  There is nothing like a bit of nature for city slickers such as us. So we packed up our gear and drove all the way to St Ouen Bay to visit Jersey’s brand new Wetland Centre.  

Set up in a bunker that has been safeguarded by the National Trust since 1975, the bird-watching centre overlooks St Ouen’s Pond and offers families the opportunity to spend an afternoon learning all about the interesting and diverse bird life found at La Mare au Seigneur. Better yet entrance to and use of the Wetland Centre is completely free. 

The entrance to the wetland centre is a bit difficult to find at first. But after some initial confusion, we did end up finding it. It is located right beside the car park on the opposite side of the road. Open the gate and make your way through the tunnel. The bunker is buried in a dune mound but opens up on the other side with panoramic views of the reed bed and pond.  

From here you can spot ducks, geese, waders, waterfowl and if you are lucky one of the magnificent marsh harriers. Various posters, books and interactive panels within the bunker will help you recognize each type of bird and educate you about them.  

There is also a map with various walking routes through the marshes. We decided to follow one of the shorter ones all the way to the bird-watching huts. It was a beautiful walk and I cannot recommend it enough. Autumn had turned the local vegetation a beautiful auburn colour and the sun dipped everything in that magical kind of light you only at dusk. 

entrance to the national trust wetland center in jersey
land surrounding the national trust wetland center in jersey
husband walking through field near the national trust wetland center in jersey
husband walking up road near the national trust wetland center in jersey

WATCHING THE SUNSET ON THE BEACH IN ST OUEN BAY 

We could easily have spent the entire afternoon in the centre, had it not been for the early setting sun. Jersey is famous for its sunsets and we were therefore keen not to miss it. 

So we made our war across to the beach past one of Jersey’s many coastal forts.  Jersey is a heavily fortified island with coastal fortifications that date from different periods such as the English Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, and Nazi Germany’s occupation of the Channel Islands. The fortifications include castles, forts, towers, Martello towers, artillery batteries, and seawalls.  

Jersey is blessed with a multitude of sandy beaches and St Ouen Bay, on the West of the Island, is said to be one of the most beautiful ones.  It certainly is a very long one. The white sand seems to stretch along the coast for a couple of miles and I bet it would take you at least one hour to walk from one end to the other. 

The sunset itself seemed to last for an eternity. We definitely had plenty of time to catch a multitude of pictures of its orange flames reflected in the waves. I am usually rather camera shy but this time I felt no anxiety. I even performed a little jig for our video footage. 

fortifications on st ouen bay in jersey
sqaure fortifications on st ouen bay in jersey
husband looking at sunset in st ouen bay in jersey

DINNER AT MOULIN LECQ  

We really weren’t sure where to have dinner on Saturday. And both our phones had run out of battery at this point, so we couldn’t even look up recommendations on TripAdvisor. However, a quick glance at our tourist map settled the matter.  

We got back into the car and drove off to Moulin de Lecq in Greve de Lecq Bay on the North West Point of the island. Sadly, though it was already dark when we arrived, so we didn’t get to enjoy the views across Jersey’s most picturesque bay. 

As its name insinuates, the restaurant was one of Jersey’s ancient Water Mills. It is now a pub with homemade fayre and a vast array of real ales, wines, and spirits. The food itself was enjoyable but nothing to write home about. It did fill our bellies though (the portions were huge!). Nonetheless, I would recommend you visit this place. The mill has so much charm and character, you’ll feel really cosy beside the roaring open fire and the staff is incredibly friendly and made us feel right at home. 

curry at moulin lecq in jersey

DAY 3 – HISTORY AND A WILD ENCOUNTER 

FEEDING THE BEARS AT JERSEY ZOO  

Honestly, nothing could have prepared us for the next activity in Jersey. In fact, I felt somewhat apprehensive. Why? Our morning itinerary for Sunday read “Feed the Bears at Jersey Zoo”. 

So after a hearty breakfast at Hotel La Place, we jumped into our fiesta and made our way across the Island to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Jersey Zoo, arguably ‘the jewel in Jersey’s crown’ is located four miles north of St Helier, in the Parish of Trinity. 

Opened by Gerald Durrell 50 years ago, Durell Park was the first ever conservation based zoo. Whether you’re after fun or tranquillity this stunning 32-acre park with valleys and woodland is the perfect chance to encounter some of the world’s rarest animals. 

But we didn’t simply meet those animals; we actually got to feed them!  

Living in an enclosure, as big or as adequate as it might be for an animal, does get boring. The keepers, therefore, place great importance on preparing enrichment for all their captive animals. Enrichment is anything that makes an animals life more interesting.  

Bears have a really strong sense of smell. So after a brief lecture on safety, our little group filled bamboo sticks and recycled paper parcels with eucalyptus leaves, Chinese lanterns and porridge. We then met the family of bears behind the scenes, to hand out our creations. To say that the three bears were happy to see us (hmm, hmm, our treats) is an exaggeration. 

group preparing food for the bears at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
feeding the bears at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
bear ripping into food apck at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

A SURPRISINGLY GOOD LUNCH AT THE FIREFLY CAFÉ 

After a brisk stroll through Durrell Park, our stomachs were grumbling. It was time to feed the humans! 

There are various restaurants in Jersey Zoo, but we opted to have lunch at the Firefly café near the entrance. For one big reason: its excellent view across the bear enclosure.  

Now neither of us is usually a fan of the food that is served up in your average British zoo. So we were more than surprised when the meals we ordered turned out not only to be filling but also rather enjoyable.  

I chose the Ploughman’s Lunch and got a platter filled with Jersey delicacies, including the softest rolls, really tasty Jersey potatoes, thick slices of local ham and cheese and a pickle to die for.  Gary ordered sausage and mash. In his opinion, it was one of the best ones he ever had.

HISTORY LESSONS AT MONT ORGUEIL’S CASTLE IN GOREY 

You simply cannot plan a trip to Jersey without the intention to visit Mont Orgueil Castle. So to end our weekend on the island with a bang, Gary and I drove to Gorey, just a few miles down the East Coast from St Catherine’s Bay. 

Gorey derives its name from Gorroic which means boulder. It is a beautiful fishing village with a real sea-side-holiday feel to it. This village has rows of colourful little cottages and lots of quaint boutique shops, cafes and restaurants as well as the harbour and pier.  It is definitely a great place for an afternoon tea and a scone.  

Gorey is also home to Mont Orgueil Castle, a Jersey icon featured on many photographs of the island with a striking location overlooking the harbour. For over 600 years, this castle has protected Jersey against invasion, later becoming a prison and today it’s a tourist attraction maintained by the Jersey Heritage Trust. 

The climb up to the castle a little steep but the incredible view from the top over the harbour and of the French coast is well worth the effort. In fact, I was so engrossed taking pictures from every angle, that we nearly missed our flight back to London! 

walking towards Mont Orgueil Castle in jersey
Mont Orgueil Castle in jersey looking towards ocean
Mont Orgueil Castle overlooking mont orgueil in jersey

FINAL THOUGHTS ON JERSEY

Visit Jersey is dubbing Jersey as #theislandbreak and I can certainly see why! If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend away, be sure to add Jersey to your list. 

For such a small Island, Jersey has a lot to offer. We left our weekend adventure itching to come back for more. Normally when we visit a destination, especially one of the smaller ones, we feel satisfied that we got a good overview of the place. But when we boarded our flight back to London Gatwick, both of us agreed that we had to return very soon. 

A cultural and food filled weekend in Jersey
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I certainly think that Jersey would be suited for a week-long holiday, especially if you have children. So, if you have another day to spend in Jersey or even a couple, here are a couple of places you might want to visit, that weren’t featured in our weekend itinerary for Jersey: 

Visit the Jersey War Tunnels 

Walk along the cliff path from Bouley Bay to Rozel and finish with tea at The Hungry Man Cafe. 

Visit the The Botanic Gardens 

See the sun rise and set in one day from the East and then West of the Island 

Go on a Bike Ride 

See the Jersey Lavender Fields 

Take the children to Creepy Valley Adventure Centre 

For more information or more ideas, have a look at Visit Jersey’s page here

I would like to thank Visit Jersey for hosting our weekend trip to the island. The hotel, some of the meals and a couple of the activities featured in this blog post were sponsored by Visit Jersey. However, as always, all opinions stated are my own.

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ABOUT KATHARINA

Katharina is the founder, editor, photographer and the main travel writer at A Life Beautifully Travelled. She created this British family travel blog in 2017 to document her adventures around the globe with her husband. Born in Munich, Germany she has since lived in Dusseldorf, Paris, Glasgow, and London. She currently resides in Yorkshire with her family.

Katharina started travelling in her early teens and has explored over 4 continents, 16 countries, and 87 cities. Growing up trilingual and having graduated from an international school, she has a strong interest in other cultures. When she isn’t gallivanting around the globe or busy in her 9-to-5 job as an architect, she can be found exploring the UK (the country she currently calls home). There isn’t much Katharina, her husband and their son Finn love more than a fun family weekend getaway.

UK WEEKEND BREAKS > SOUTH WEST ENGLAND

8 thoughts on “A Cultural and Food-Filled Weekend in Jersey”

  1. I have not heard of Jersey Island. I can tell from your descriptions of its history and dining, that I’d love it. Plus small islands with small towns are totally my thing! Love the bit about the Islanders getting to pick which nation they wanted to belong to. Saving this!

    Reply
  2. Dear Katherina,
    Thank you very much for including my exhibition at the CCA gallery in such a lovely way. Enjoyed your post-so much to see there. Went back for a day trip after the opening to give another talk and was taken to see St Brelade’s bay. All best wishes for 2018.
    Louise Cattrell

    Reply
  3. Jersey looks really picturesque and seems to offer some great experiences of nature, culture and food. Of course the food looks great, but I was really enamoured with the wetlands and the intriguing bunker entrance it has. The Mont Orgueil Castle looks really fascinating too and the views from there seem to be stunning. Finally a great sunset we always love to bring the day to a climax that is what I can see on the beach in Jersey.

    Reply
  4. Oh wow, I was only talking about Jersey the other day with a neighbour and she had great things to say. I’ve never been but found myself Google imaging it and my it’s stunning. Your post is so informative and the photos beautiful. It’s added to the list.

    Reply
  5. Wow, it was indeed a relaxing trip with lots of great food, great scenery, and great weather. I would love to try the oysters and feed the bears! The Mont Orgueil’s castle look stunning at the waterfront! @ knycx.journeying

    Reply

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