A local’s guide to exploring Jersey – Britain’s largest Channel Island

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ever wondered what it’s like to grow up on an island? Laura-Jade Artus moved to Jersey (Britain’s largest Channel Island) at the age of three—and lives there today with her husband, Aaron, and their 5-year-old son, Bailey. Ahead, Laura shares her favorite local restaurants, the best spot to people-watch, and where to a find a swimming pool that ebbs and flows with the tide.

On island-life: The thing I love most and least about living in Jersey is being surrounded by sea. It’s beautiful in the summer and winter thanks to the amazing coastal views and cliff-path walks, but being cut-off from the mainland can make it incredibly expensive and inconvenient to get away. Boats and planes are often cancelled due to fog, and Jersey airport tax is pretty pricey. That said, it’s a great place to raise children—it’s safe and the schools are fantastic. It’s also “the sunniest place in the British Isles,” or so the advert tells us. :)

On choosing the perfect neighborhood: We live in Saint Helier—the capital of our 9x5 mile island. At one end of our long road is Havre des Pas, a beach area with a saltwater pool in the sea. It fills up when the tide comes in—and stays full. The sea is so far out that it would take forever to walk to (Jersey has some of the largest tides in the world). At the other end of our road is Colomberie Village. “Village” is a bit OTT for the area, as it’s tiny, but it has some lovely restaurants and mostly everything we need.

On Jersey’s heritage: There’s still some French influence in the street names [Jersey is only 12 miles from France] and a handful of French restaurants, but unfortunately most of it has been phased out. When I was in school, studying French was compulsory until age 16 (and it still is at my son’s school), but I’m not sure it is at many others. Jersey’s original language was Jèrriais (also known as Jersey-French), but it died out with my great-grandparents’ generation. Although, some of our grandparents still speak a bit. There are also large Portuguese and Polish communities in Jersey. Several of our restaurants are Portuguese and most of our pub menus feature espetadas.

On local cuisine: Jersey has some incredible restaurants, and if I was a tourist, I would be seriously spoilt for choice! Bohemia at The Club Hotel is always winning awards and holds a Michelin Star (the 8-course tasting menu with wine flight is incredible). It’s definitely one of my favorites for fine-dining, in addition to Ormer and Saffrons. For an amazing Sunday roast—with huge portions—I love Cheffins at The Beaumont. Sumas is also delicious (and quite affordable)—it overlooks Gorey Harbour and the lovely Mont Orgueil Castle. The view is magical!

Jersey rears some great beef and we definitely have the best milk in the world (I would put money on that!). Our Jersey cows are beautiful and produce very creamy milk, which has a higher nutritional value than most other cows. There are also lovely butchers all over the island so everyone can enjoy fresh meats. I like to order organic produce from a local company called VegieBag—they deliver right to your door! I also always get the lovely local organic eggs from the farm in St Lawrence.

On weekend routines:
Saturdays normally involve a trip into town to run errands, and possibly a stop at Bambola to buy a little toy for Bailey (if he’s been good). Then, maybe a trip to our favorite Delicatessen, Relish, if I’ve been good. :) We love to sit there with a cheese board that’s been put together especially for us by Florian or Romano—with a delicious bottle of wine, of course. Bailey usually helps to choose the cheese, as he’s known as the “cheese monster.” It’s a great place to sit outside in summer and people-watch, but it’s just as lovely inside—especially during Christmas when you can see all the gift baskets being assembled. Saturday nights usually involve a meal in town, either with friends or just the three of us. Jersey is a great place to dine out with children and the restaurants are very welcoming. Our evening will usually end with a drink at La Bastille, a gorgeous brasserie that’s conveniently located on our way home.

We usually make the most of town on Saturdays because not many shops are open on Sundays. Although it angers a lot of islanders, many people like it this way. It doesn’t affect tourists much because there is still plenty to do sightseeing-wise, but when you’ve lived here forever and done it all, it would be nice to be somewhat productive on Sundays. On Sunday afternoons we’ll often go for a walk in one of the lovely coastal locations or see a movie at Cineworld if the weather is bad.

On family-friendly activities: Children are welcomed almost everywhere in Jersey. You always see children eating out with their parents and a few of our pubs have soft play areas, but still manage to serve decent food. We are lucky to have a child who is so comfortable in restaurants and in the company of other adults. He is happy to try anything and is really adventurous. The staff even know his name at many of our local restaurants! As a family, we love going to Park House Thai Restaurant, Funchal Paradise (Portuguese), and Unawatuna (Sri Lankan), as the staff really goes the extra mile to make us feel welcome.

Tamba Park is a great outdoor and indoor play area that’s fun for kids of all ages. There are animals, a boating lake, animatronic dinosaurs, and massive Koi to feed. Jersey Zoo is also very popular due to its amazing conservational work, plus the animals are so well cared for.

On wellness: Staying fit is quite important in Jersey. It’s such a small island—you know everyone and never know who you might run into. I walk a lot – and cook healthy meals, whenever possible. There also are some lovely lunch spots in town like MOO, Rfresh, and Flavours that offer nutritious and speedy options.

On shopping: Jersey has a lovely selection of boutiques, plus several local designers and artists who sell handmade products—including art, jewelry, bags, cosmetics, and food. I work for a home and garden showroom called Jersey Oak, which creates oak gifts and furniture on-island. They offer many imported pieces, but the local products are very popular with locals and tourists alike. Jersey Pottery also sells lovely pottery ranges, which are great gifts and home buys. A lot of islanders (myself included), prefer to shop for clothes online or arrange shopping trips to London, Liverpool or Southampton. I much prefer to save my money and spend it when I’m abroad.

On girls nights: When we’re not being lazy and staying in with slippers and take-away, we like to dine out (sensing a theme?), or go out for Champagne or cocktails at The Blind Pig, Ce Soir, or Project 52. The Blind Pig has a great 1920s vibe and a secret entrance – try your best to find it! Ce Soir has a sneaky Gin Room tucked out of sight upstairs and the lady who works there really knows her stuff – a must for the gin lovers! I don’t usually frequent nightclubs, but if I do, The Royal Yacht is my club of choice. They have a few private booths where you can get table service.

On getting away from it all: We love camping! Jersey has three campsites, but the best by far is Beuvelande Campsite. It’s very well maintained with nice facilities, including a pool and park—plus an on-site shop, bar, and restaurant in the summer. I’d recommend it to anyone… families, couples, and tourists looking for something cheaper than a hotel.

We also love going to the beach, especially on a balmy summer’s evening. There’s nothing better than taking our mini BBQ down to Greve de Lecq Bay and watching the sun go down whilst paddling in the sea.

On gems outside the city: We spent last Christmas in Cornwall, which was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had! We stayed in a gorgeous little cottage surrounded by woodland and tiny towns. We took a daytrip drove to Lyme Regis, where we went fossil-hunting on the famous Jurassic Coast. We spotted fossils at every turn!

Yorkshire also has a special place in my heart—it’s where my husband grew up and where most of his family still lives. The scenery is lovely too, with big open fields and moors.

For more travel inspiration (and mouth-watering food photos), follow Laura on Instagram @happilyeverartus

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