Travels with Victoria: The Isle of Guernsey

Continuing our cruise from Lisbon to Dover in late May and early June 2011, we stopped at Belle-Ile-en-Mer, above, off the coast of Brittany.  Like almost every other stop on this cruise, I’d enjoy going  back for more. One if the most famous people associated with Belle Ile was Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), who had a holiday home here and entertained many of Europe’s leading cultural figures.

Arriving in St. Peter Port, Guernsey, I hardly knew where to focus my attention — the distant Castle Cornet, the activity in the harbor or on the colorful waterfront line of shops.

Before I read the wonderful novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I admit that the only associations I made with the two main Channel Isles were the famous breeds of Guernsey and Jersey cows.  So here are a few wiki-facts.  Both are Bailiwicks of Great Britain, crown dependencies, a particular form of governing not quite part of the U.K. (they have their own currencies), but not independent either. Residents are British citizens, but you will often hear French spoken. Guernsey has a population of 65,000+ and Jersey has nearly 90,000.  Both islands are popular tourist destinations, only a few miles off the coast of Normandy; cruise ships like ours are more likely to stop in Guernsey.  Both islands are known for their relaxed living, quaint ways, and convoluted history. 
Parish Church of St. Peter Port
We took a ride on the local bus all the way around Guernsey, which was particularly fun. Both tourist and residents use the buses and we eagerly eavesdropped on conversations about everything from the weather to the International Court.  The trip, which took about 90 minutes, passed neolithic sites, such as burial tombs, wide beaches, rocky coasts sprayed by wild waves, Napoleonic-era martello towers and a fort, Nazi bunkers dating from the German Occupation, and bright new cottages surrounded by colorful gardens.

Waterfront shops in St. Peter Port

 Unlike tour busses, the local conveyance did not stop for photo ops, so I can’t share any of the sights along our ride.  I suggest you plan a trip and see for yourself.

St. Peter Port Harbour

Our next stop was St. Malo, Brittany, from which we drove to see Mont St. Michel, an amazing sight no matter how many times you have see the pictures. More about it in my next post.

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