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Island escapes

A French-influenced break without the Euro exchange rate? Think Jersey and Guernsey

There was a time for me when ‘school’s out for summer’ meant one thing –  Jersey. I spent most of my childhood holidays there with my family, staying with friends. I’ve often wondered since why this island and its neighbour Guernsey with their fabulous sandy beaches, French influence, and easy flights from Gatwick remain somewhat overlooked for summer holidays and indulgent short breaks.

So, with the help of Channel Island experts Airways Holidays I’m putting things right. I picked their brains (and my own memories of visits old and more recent) to give you the lowdown on what the islands have to offer whether you’re visiting as a family, a couple, or with friends.

Family beach holidays

On Jersey and Guernsey you can take your pick of glorious wide sandy beaches (windsurfers’ favourite St Ouen’s Bay takes up most of Jersey’s West coast) and if one’s looking a little crowded, just drive on a bit!

There is organised fun to be had at various family adventure centres, on RIB voyages and at Jersey Zoo – founded by famous naturalist Gerald Durrell. The Battle of the Flowers also deserves a special mention – an August festival with impressive floral floats made by competing parishes.

The Channel Islands are a safe environment for kids but they also also hold exciting history lessons. Seen new film Dunkirk about the mass evacuation as France fell to the Germans? The nearby Channel Islands were also occupied in World War Two and you can see rememants of this time around the island – notably many bunkers and the War Tunnels and underground hospital on Jersey – now a major museum about the occupation and resistance.

Gorey Castle, Jersey

Younger kids will love exploring the picturesque castles. There are also free to visit neolithic sites.

You can plan for next summer of course but if you haven’t organised this year yet then, fear not, Airways still has late availability for this August, for instance seven nights’ B&B in a three-star guesthouse on Jersey for £393.

Short breaks

St Aubins Village

The islands have really come into their own for short breaks in recent years with developments in the pampering and foodie scene. Jersey in particular has many spa hotels, among them, Airways recommends Grand Jersey Hotel & Spa, Hotel,  L’Horizon and The Club Hotel & Spa in Jersey’s capital St Helier.

Food, particularly seafood, is good at any time but October is a great time to visit because that’s when the annual Tennerfest runs with most restaurants and pubs on the islands producing set menus for as little as £10. Even the Michelen-starred restaurants get in on the act with generous discounts.

Those wide beaches and cliff parks are great for walks – you can even take your four-legged friend with you if use the ferry. Or, simply stroll from boutique to boutique – shopping is VAT free!

For an active break, rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, or try blo-karting – a cross between go-karting and sailing. I had a go on a near-deserted beach one windy March day on Jersey and it was completely exhilarating (let’s just pass over the bit when I ran into the instructor!)

Airways has some good offers for mid Sept onwards with free extra nights at several four-star properties, like five nights for four at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel in St Helier.

Easy Access

There’s a whopping choice of an average 15 flights a day to the Channel Islands from Gatwick, with Aurigny, BA and easyJet. You can also take Flybe from London City Airport.  If you chose the ferry, perhaps to take a dog with you, it’s two hours to Guernsey or four to Jersey from Poole.

Salerie slipway, Guernsey

Once you’re there, even the largest island, Jersey is just nine miles by five miles so you can zip around in hire car stopping at a beach here, a castle there, a pub for dinner, ending perhaps with the classic scenic sunset at Corbiere Lighthouse.

To find out more about Airways’ holidays and short breaks to Jersey and Guernsey, visit one of the branches of award-winning Kent/Sussex travel agency Baldwins Travel Group, or give them a call.

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