No British Isles Discovery cruise would be complete without a stop on the beautiful Isle of Guernsey, which Cruise Critic has named the ‘Best UK & British Isles Port of Call’ for 2017. Cruise Critic’s international team of editors who chose Guernsey explained that they felt “Guernsey encapsulates all the charm of a lost 1950s idea of Britain, with a French twist and a fascinating history”. The team went on to say: “St Peter Port (the capital) with its tiny streets and pretty houses, is charm personified; beautiful, unspoilt beaches lie just minutes away and the Second World War history is fascinating. Guernsey welcomes cruise ship passengers with free street Wi-Fi, an upgraded port area and an army of helpful volunteers during high season.”
Mike Hopkins, director of marketing and tourism at VisitGuernsey, added: “Guernsey is delighted to be the winners of this prestigious award again. Cruise represents a significant part of our tourism industry and we will, therefore, continue to look for ways to offer passengers a positive experience and exceed their expectations when visiting our island.”
Here are our top five things to see and do during your stop in St Peter Port:
1. Sugar and spice and all things nice
Although cakes and sweet treats are not unique to Guernsey, the sugary delights which can be found on the island would be able to tempt even the staunchest savoury lover. Perhaps the most famous export from the Isle would have to be the Guernsey Gauche (pronounced gosh). This sweet treat is loaded with dried fruits and needs to be enjoyed with lashings of rich Guernsey butter.
Throughout the summer Guernsey hosts its annual Seafront Sunday events where the seafront closes for vehicles to host a variety of events from art shows to motorsport rallies. For those travelling on the British Isles Discovery Cruise departing 27th August, you have the chance to enjoy alfresco dining on the seafront as a host of food stalls open to tempt you with their culinary delights with its Taste Guernsey event.
2. Little Chapel at Les Vauxbelets
After being so inspired by the famous grotto at Lourdes, Brother Deodat Antoine arrived back in Guernsey to create his own version as a labour of love, the Little Chapel at Les Vauxbelets. The structure which stands today is actually the third version. Brother Deodat made the first structure in 1914 before taking it apart two nights after its completion, the second version was completed later in 1914 where it was blessed shortly after completion, this survived until 1923 where Brother Deodat tore the structure down after the Bishop of Portsmouth was not able to fit through the doors. The third, and final chapel was completed in late 1923 and still stands to this day. The building was painstakingly decorated with seashells and scraps of china, much of which was donated by the islanders. This is a must-see on sunny days as the light catches the various bits of shells, glass and china.
3. The Guernsey Jumper
Feel the cold? Then there is no better place to invest in some knitwear. Originally made to keep Fishermen warm while out in the cold waters of the channel and Atlantic, the traditional navy knit sweater dates back to the 1500s. The jumpers have a long-rooted history in the British armed forces having first been used in the 1800s for the Royal Navy and it is believed the jumpers were worn at the Battle of Trafalgar.
The design of the jumper has stayed the same over the last 500 years and it still carries the design of a ship’s rope ladder on the sleeve. Although today a lot of high street clothing is disposable and generally wears out after a year or two, the Guernsey jumper takes a few decades to wear in and is designed to be handed down to the next generation, so why not stock up on a lifetime investment.
4. Victor Hugo
After being exiled from France in 1856, Victor Hugo spent 15 years living on the island from where he gained inspiration to write arguably one of his greatest works ‘Les Miserable’. The Hauteville House became Hugo’s home and immediately he fell in love with the island and felt at home through its unique blend of French and Britishness. From his writing room at the top of the house, Hugo could see across St Peter Port to sometimes, on a clear day, capture glimpses of France.
Although Hugo’s main stamp on the island is that of Hauteville House, his presence can be felt throughout the island from the clear waters of Havelet Bay where he regularly swam to his favourite coastal walk to Fermain Bay. Be sure to visit the Victoria Tower where hidden on the walls is an engraving of VH and JD rumoured to have been engraved by Hugo and his mistress Juliette Drouet, who loved Hugo so much she followed him into exile and secretly lived on the island to be close to him.
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
From one author to another; Mary Ann Shaffer’s first and sadly last novel ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ was inspired by a chance visit to the island whereon trying to fly home Schaffer became stuck at the airport due to fog. With time to kill she purchased some history books on Guernsey from the airport bookshop and became fascinated with the island’s wartime history and German occupation and after a twenty-year period she began writing her island-based novel about a young journalist, Juliet Ashton.
Sadly, for Shaffer, she became very ill while editing the novel and passed away before completion, so it fell to her niece, Annie Burrows, to complete the novel which went on to be a best seller. In 2018 a movie adaptation of the novel will be released starring Lily James (Downton Abbey) and Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones), directed by Mike Newall (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). With the highly anticipated release of the film next year, be sure to book yourself onto a walking tour of the island to explore the inspiration for the book and film.