The Isle of Guernsey is a place that will exceed most tourists’ expectations. The Isle, officially the Bailiwick of Guernsey, is a British Crown dependency and includes five small islands. Situated in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy, it is part of the Channel Island group.
The name Guernsey is of Old Norse origin. Guernsey was once occupied by Britons but its history is much older. Evidence of hunting and fishing dates back to 6500 BC. Neolithic farmers settled the coasts and built dolmens, tomb-like stone structures, and menhirs, tall stone monoliths, in several locations on the islands. There is some evidence the menhirs are associated with the early Celtic Druid culture. You won’t want to miss seeing the Neolithic dolmen, Le Gardien du Tombeau and the 4000 year-old menhir, Victor Hugo,. To learn the full story of Guernsey’s fascinating history, visit Castle Cornet and its five museums—The Story of Castle Cornet Museum, The Maritime Museum, The 201 Squadron (RAF) Museum, The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum and The Royal Guernsey Militia Museum.
The Germans occupied Guernsey during World War II. There were concentration camps built by forced labourers on Alderney Island. These camps housed Poles, Russians and Jews. German fortifications remain intact on the islands today; several are open to the public. Visit the German Occupation Museum for insight into the difficult period of German occupation.
Guernsey natives are proud that Victor Hugo wrote some of his best-known works while in exile in Guernsey, including “Les Miserables.”
The Guernsey cow is an internationally famous icon of the island. It is praised for its creamy milk, which is claimed to be healthier than milk from other breeds of cows.
Speaking of healthy food, you must try the island’s famous stew called Guernsey Bean jar. It is a centuries-old stew that is still popular with Islanders. It’s a hearty peasant stew made with haricot and butter beans, pork and shin beef. Top your meal off with tea and Guernsey Gache, a bread made with raisins, sultanas and mixed peel (candied citrus peels). Don’t forget to sample the succulent Ormer abalone found on Guernsey shores.
While on the Isle, try to work in the time to visit Guernsey’s sister islands. The harbor ferries provide easy passage among the islands.
A trip to The Isle of Guernsey is indeed a place that exceeds expectations.
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