Destination guide: Jersey

With news that Bergerac will be returning to our screens, we explore the series' famed tropical setting, off the coast of France

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Destination guide: Jersey
Written By
Jade Bremner

There's more to Jersey than offshore accounts and pastel-splashed mansions. This part of the UK looks distinctively British – with its red pillar post boxes, country lanes and high street shops – yet it's only 14 miles off the coast of mainland France, meaning it's noticeably warmer and has an intriguing European kick.

Just nine miles long by five miles wide, Jersey is both manageable and culturally digestible, making it an ideal  weekend break destination, no matter whether you’re looking for adventure, history or simply want to spend your time horizontally... on a beach.

We’ve picked some of the best ways to encounter the island’s 12 districts (or parishes as they’re known locally), and we've also thrown in a couple of Bergerac filming locations for good measure.

Jersey War Tunnels, St Lawrence

During the Second World War, when Germany occupied Jersey for five years, the German army used islanders as slaves to create an underground hospital. Visitors today can wander around its eerie tunnels learning the story of this period in history. With tickets to the museum visitors get a cardboard Jersey Identity Card, like locals would have had during the war, which allows them to gain access to visual and audio exhibitions where they’ll learn more about islanders’ subtle protests against their temporary rulers (including putting ‘V’s on post, and the local newspaper printing typos so its readers would know Germans were writing).

Mont Orgueil Castle, St Martin

Jersey defended itself against French invasion more than 600 years ago, with the help of this stunning 13th-century castle. Time Team visited this spot overlooking the pretty harbour of Gorey, in 2010, and they discovered secret rooms, winding staircases and turrets, plus artwork throughout revealing tales about the building. The cellar offers a witchcraft exhibit, wooden soldiers guard the castle from attack and one of the turrets has been named the ‘wheel of urine’ – don’t worry, it’s not used for this purpose any more.


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Central Market, St Heliers

This colourful covered Victorian market is the place to sample specialist wines, chocolate and seafood, or buy fruit and flowers from local and nearby French shores. There are also food stalls, selling crab, lobster, scallops and fresh oysters, plus several butchers, bakeries and cake shops. Look out for local delicacies including les mèrvelles, small cakes otherwise known as Jersey wonders, or the nièr beurre, aka black butter, a distinctive apple preserve from the area.

Surfing, St Quen

There’s a real laidback beachy energy on the island. Surfing and water sports are ingrained in local life, and residents have plenty to play with – Jersey may just have the best surf in the UK. St Quen’s bay on the west coast has consistently decent swell, which crashes in from the Atlantic Ocean. El Tico’s instructors offer beginner lessons to anyone wanting to give it a go, and they also rent boards to those who can already ride. There’s also an excellent casual beachside café, El Tico Beach Cantina, right opposite the surf school, which serves fresh hearty food from prawn jungle curry to Mexican eggs or cup cakes. Eat it while watching the surf crash in.


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As seen on TV

St Heliers, Royal Square

The capital of Jersey, home to its government, has a bustling town centre and impressive granite buildings, such as those in Royal Square. This is where the Battle of Jersey took place in 1781, where Major Pierson died defending the island from the French. Shots fired during the battle can still be seen in the buildings' walls here. This is also where Jim Bergerac’s Le Bureau des Étrangers was filmed earlier in the series, until it was moved to Haut de la Garenne in St Martin, now Jersey’s only youth hostel.

St. Aubin’s Bay, St Brelade

One of the prettiest beaches on the island, this is where much of the filming for Bergerac took place. This sleepy, sweeping bay attracts families and older travellers who promenade along the beach by day and enjoy a quiet drink in one of the many hotel bars along the front by night. You'll find the pink and grey Windward House here – featured in Bergerac, it is the epitome of a Jersey-style mansion.


Visit Jersey with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details


Population

87,186

Region

Channel Islands

Airport

Jersey Airport

TV and films shot here: Ade in Britain, Time Team, Bergerac, Hungry Sailors

Local food: Seafood, Jersey royal potatoes, nièr beurre, fish and les mèrvelles.

Stay: Golden Sands, a comfortable four-star property overlooking St Brelade’s Bay, with rooms facing the Atlantic Ocean. Rooms go from £56 per night.

Eat and drink:  For fresh local seafood with a European note, it has to be Abilio's Restaurant or Barros' Tropical Bistro in St. Heliers. These family-run Portuguese casual restaurants are reasonably priced, offer hearty portions of prawns and mussels and serve great dishes such as crab creole and the typically Portuguese bacalhau a gomes de sà (dried salty cod with onions, sliced potatoes and chopped boiled eggs).

Getting there: Fly with Flybe from £70 +

Getting around: The best way to see the island's sights is by hiring a car. Hertz (at the airport) rent cars from £40 +  per day.


Visit Jersey with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details