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Despite its proximity to France and its comparative distance from Great Britain (22 kilometres from the former, 160 kilometres from the latter), the Bailiwick of Jersey is a British Crown dependency. It is not part of the UK, nor of the EU, although the UK is responsible for its defence and external relations. Jersey has English and French as its official languages, and some of its laws are still written in Jersey legal French. Its nearness to France has had pronounced effects upon its history, from its inclusion in the Duchy of Normandy, to its unhappy distinction of being the only British soil that was held by Nazi Germany (well, along with the other Channel Islands). Its fascinating historical heritage is now a prime feature of Jersey's attraction to travellers, with numerous museums and beautiful medieval architecture celebrating the past. In addition, the island's coastline offers ample opportunity to get wet, be it through swimming, water skiing or canoeing.
The earliest evidence of human activity in the island dates to about 250,000 years ago when bands of hunters used the caves at La Cotte de St Brelade as a base for hunting mammoth. Evidence of Bronze Age and early Iron Age settlements can be found in many locations around the island. Archaeological evidence of Roman influence has been found, in particular the coastal headland site at Le Pinacle, Les Landes, where remains of a primitive structure are attributed to Roman temple worship (fanum).
Formerly under the control of Brittany and named Angia (also spelled Agna ), Jersey was invaded by Vikings in the ninth century. The name of Jersey is believed to be derived from Viking heritage: the Norse suffix -ey for island can be found in many places around the Northern European coasts.
The island was eventually annexed to the Duchy of Normandy by William Longsword, Duke of Normandy in 933 and it became one of the Norman Islands. William's descendant, William the Conqueror, conquered England in 1066. The Duchy of Normandy and the kingdom of England were governed under one monarch.
Islanders traveled across the North Atlantic to participate in the Newfoundland fisheries in the late 16th century. In recognition for help given to him during his exile in Jersey in the 1640s, Charles II gave George Carteret, bailiff and governor, a large grant of land in the American colonies, which he promptly named New Jersey, now part of the United States.
Trade laid the foundations of prosperity, aided by neutrality between England and France. The Jersey way of life involved agriculture, milling, fishing, shipbuilding, and production of woollen goods. 19th century improvements in transport links brought tourism to the island.
Emotionally, the 20th century has been dominated by the Occupation of the island by German troops between 1940 and 1945. The islanders endured near-starvation in the winter of 1944-45, after it had been cut off from German-occupied Europe by Allied forces advancing from the Normandy beachheads, avoided only by the arrival of the Red Cross supply ship Vega in December 1944. Liberation Day - May 9 is marked as a public holiday. The Channel Islands were the only British soil occupied by German troops in World War II.
The event which has had the most far reaching effect on Jersey in modern times, is the growth of the finance industry in the island from the 1960s onwards.
Jersey is an island measuring 118.2 square kilometres (46 square miles), including reclaimed land and intertidal zone. It lies in the English Channel, about 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres; 14 miles) from the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy, France, and about 87 nautical miles (161 kilometres; 100 miles) south of Great Britain. It is the largest and southernmost of the Channel Islands, with a maximum land elevation of 136 metres (446 feet) above sea level. The terrain consists of a plateau sloping from long sandy bays in the south to rugged cliffs in the north. The plateau is cut by valleys running generally north-south
Administratively, Jersey is divided into twelve parishes.
Mont Orgueil is a stunning castle overlooking the harbour of Gorey and is also known as the Gorey Castle. Although there was some sort of fortification on the spot since prehistoric times, the castle in its current state was constructed in 1204. The castle was the primary defense for the island until the invention of gun powder and by the 16th century Elizabeth Castle off Saint Helier was built to replace Mont Orgueil. The castle was used for several purposes over the next few centuries, including a prison. During World War II the Germans actually put modern look-out posts on the castle. The castle was reopened to the public in 2006 after a major restoration project was completed. For the official website click here.
Elizabeth Castle was built off the coast of Saint Helier in the late 16th century. It was built because the power of cannons made the old castle of Mont Orgueil useless. Eventually the Governors of Jersey moved their official residence to the castle for more protection. The castle was site of many bloody battles during the English Civil War during the mid 17th century. In 1923 the British government gave the castle to the States of Jersey and the castle was opened to the public as a museum. The castle has remained a museum except during a brief period when the German occupied the castle and installed guns, bunkers and other battlements. For the offcial website click here.
La Hougue Bie is a dolmen and mound that covers an ancient tomb, which is 2,000 years older than the Pyramids of Giza. The site has not remained static since 3,000 BC. In the 6th century local Christians tried to remove the pagan influences around the mound and later a medieval chapel was built on top of the mound. The nearby Archaeology and Geology Museum is also an excellent place to visit.
The country fair of country fairs, le Foire de Jersey is a must if you’re on the island in May. The event harks right back to the 19th century and features entertainment, food, and fun. Competitions include the all-important Cattle Show which has on pararde the revered Jersey cow.
One of a multitude of sailing regattas in the Channel Islands, the Gorey Regatta is regarded as being one of the oldest of its kind in the world, dating back to the mid-1800’s. It takes place in Grouville Bay on the stunning east coast with a variety of classes and spectators from around the world. The event is held over a weekend usually late in May, and is accompanied by eating, drinking, and merry making.
This nine-day event for the stomach takes place in mid- to late-May near the Radisson Blu Hotel on the Esplanade in St Helier. A must for gourmands, the festival includes an al fresco food fair that features the best of Jersey including beef, cheeses, cream, and treats from around the UK. There are also food stalls, street theater, and live entertainment.
For a look at some of the rich culture on Jersey, visitors can enjoy the arts during the Jersey Street Theatre Festival held in St Helier in July. There is something for all ages including musical performances, dance, art, and even comedy shows.
Arts and crafts are king during this fun, illuminating July event on Jersey. Local artisans give workshops and demonstrations and display their wares, while folks come in from around the UK and France to be amazed.
For a splash of color, beautiful floral arrangements, and a carnival-like atmosphere, visitors will find the Battle of the Flowers on par with the best Dutch flower-centric events. Known all over Europe, the event has been wooing Europeans to Jersey in early to mid August. Expect floats through the streets along with music and dancing.
Jersey puts on an array of musical events throughout the year—and Jersey Live is the biggest and best of the bunch. Touted as the ‘biggest little Indie rock festival,’ the celebration takes place in Trinity parish at the Royal Jersey Showground in early September. Well-known and emerging acts perform on the five stages with around 10,000 spectators, most of whom are local.
Jersey has a typical maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. Temperatures in summer average around 20 °C during the day or a bit less. Winters are generally above zero with a few degrees below zero sometimes at night. Variations in temperatures, both between summer and winter as well as between days in the seasons, are low. Rain is possible year round, though autumn and winter is a bit wetter compared to the late spring and summer season.
Jersey Airport (JER) is where air travellers arrive. Blue Islands is based here and has flights to Paris, Dublin, Geneva, Zurich, Bournemouth, Southampton, Guernsey and Alderney. Aer Arann has flights between Jersey and Cork while BMI flies to and from London and Thomsonfly has flights to Coventry.
Rental cars are available at the airport and in the capital and distances on the island's well maintained roads are small. Traffic drives on the left and you need a national driver's licence or international driving permit.
The island is small and although sometimes a bit hilly, renting a bike is a great way to explore a lot of the island in several days.
There are about 5 or 6 buslines operating throughout the island, mostly originating and terminating in St Helier and stopping en route in almost all of the several dozen or so towns and villages.
Although technically not part of the UK (nor EU), the entry requirements are the same.
Passport holders of members countries of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland have the right of free movement and residence in the UK.
European Economic Area: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU) but citizens of these countries have the same rights to enter, live in and work in the United Kingdom as EU citizens.
For all other nationals, entry clearance (visa) may or may not be required for visiting the UK.
Nationals from the following countries do not require entry clearance (visa) for a stay of three or six months:
Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Canada, Caymen Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, East Timor, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Faroes, Gibraltar, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR), Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Korea (South), Macau (SAR), Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Montserrat, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Georgia and Sandwich Islands, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City.
Visa nationals are required to apply for entry clearance before entering the UK.
For the latest visa requirements, visa application guides and other immigration matters, refer to the UK Border Agency Visa Services.
See also: Money Matters
The currency of Jersey is the pound sterling with the international currency code GBP (Great Britain Pound). The currency sign for pound is £ (the symbol is derived from the letter L). It is also known to the locals as quid (both singular and plural), which a slang term, so you might hear people say "two quid" instead of two pounds. One pound is divided into 100 pence (singular: penny).
Employment in Jersey is subject to strict regulations. The basic principle, enshrined in the 1973 Regulation of Undertakings Act, is that anyone offering employment is required to have a license to employ those who are not qualified to live on Jersey under the various Housing Acts. Those who come to the Island have to be resident for five years before they are regarded as qualified to apply for unlicensed vacancies.
The way that this has been interpreted has varied over the years: for many years it was relatively easy for businesses to get licenses. At the moment, it is far more difficult.
This does not mean that there are no available vacancies, but it means that the Jersey job market is rather unusual. Those who have specialised essential skills (particularly in medicine) will find vacancies, and some of the offshore finance companies have block licences which they will use to bring in specialist or senior staff. At the bottom end of the market there are still some seasonal vacancies for waiters and bar staff (although the States, Jersey's government, are increasingly pushing the tourism industry to use local staff). In between there is very little.
The five year rule also applies to anyone who wishes to set up a business outside the finance sector, unless they can prove that the business does not duplicate an existing business.
Languages: English (official, and majority everyday language), French (not in general use, some local laws and place names are written in French), Jèrriais (recognised regional language).
Jersey has an abundance of excellent restaurants covering most tastes. There are now three Michelin-starred restaurants (Bohemia, the Atlantic and Tassilli) in the island.
There are many French, Italian and Portuguese style restaurants. Chinese, Indian and Thai are well represented too. Only one each of Greek and Sushi and one Mexican, located in Colomberie or Iranian though. There are a few B.Y.O. restaurants (example the Dicq Shack). There are fast food chains, such as McDonalds in St. Helier.
There are occasionally themed "food weeks" celebrating the different cultures in the Island. Every October (for a little over a month) there is a Tennerfest where you can explore many of the world-class restaurants.
Jersey may only measure nine miles by five but it's home to a varied range of places to stay that suits all tastes.
There are four camp sites, including one in St. Brelade near the west coast.
The minimum age for purchasing alcohol is 18 years. For such a small place there are a lot of bars and quite a few different clubs. Despite duty on alcohol being lower than the UK most popular bars set their prices close to what you'd expect in London. Normal pub closing time is 23:00 and most clubs have to be closed by 02:00 (there is no "drinking-up-time"). There are a few bars with alfresco areas including one with a view over the bay toward Elizabeth castle. Most of the working-men's pubs became trendy wine bars in the early nineties so there's not much chance of finding a pool table in town. There are two bars which sell Absinthe.
There is quite a good music scene, in part due to licensing regulations which allow some bars to stay open till 1:00am if they have live entertainment. The bars with a late licence never have a cover charge but all the clubs do.
The main town of St. Helier is compact enough that you can wander from pub to pub and club to club quite easily.
See also: Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Jersey.
See also: Travel Safety
Jersey law derives from Norman customary law, now supplemented by English law and local statute. United Kingdom law does not automatically apply in Jersey, unless adopted by the parliament, the States of Jersey. Most things are the same as in English law, with the exception of some laws about marriage and divorce. Attitudes towards homosexuality tend to be very similar to those you would find in Great Britain.
See also: International Telephone Calls
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