Jersey: Short-haul sunshine in a cyclist's paradise
Jo Morris gets on her e-bike and falls for Jersey
Before my trip to Jersey I knew exactly what it would be like. As any self-respecting person who grew up in the ‘80s knows, Jersey is a hotbed of crime, lust and passion. It's a little bit French but also very English. People drive around in swanky open top cars and there are only 25 people who actually live on the island.
But it would seem that BBC TVs Bergerac might not have been an entirely accurate portrayal of this island. For one thing, it's really busy and traffic jams around the main hub of St Helier are de rigeur in a country whose car ownership was once the highest per head in the world. Our trip, however, was not to relive the heady heydays of John Nettles but to duck out of Edinburgh for a long weekend and hit up some guaranteed sunshine before the long winter months.
e-bikes are basically a motor assisted ride. They make cycling easy and, for me, these babies turned Jersey into the promised land.
At only five miles wide and nine miles long, Jersey has been described as a cyclist’s paradise. And it is, whatever your level of fitness and stamina, mostly due to the availability of the wondrous e-bike. You see, Jersey is an island of much beauty, and even more hills -fabulous for hardcore/ semi-serious cyclists but not so for the biking at leisure brigade. In case you haven’t heard of them, electric bikes or e-bikes are basically a motor assisted ride. They make cycling easy and, for me, these babies turned Jersey into the promised land.
We cycled from our base in St Helier, along the seafront to St Aubin, a pretty harbour village with some of the best restaurants on the island. From there we headed over to St Brelades Bay. This huge sweeping expanse of beach and sea is breath-taking and about one mile down a very steep hill. We whooped as we freewheeled down and, yes, at the bottom I gave my little e-bike a hug as I realised that a quick flick to Turbo would get me back up to the top with no tears and not even a teeny bit of sweat. Our destination was St Ouens Bay which is the best beach on the island we were told. With cycle paths most of the way, it was a beautiful ride. With big grins on our faces, we found ourselves a stunning surfers’ beach and hung out in the sun eating surf and turf until mid-afternoon.
We arrived back at our hotel in time for a few sundowners before dinner and reflecting on our trip. Jersey is something of a conundrum. It's British although it's much closer to France, (which you can see in the architecture and hear in the accent). It's rural but St Helier is one of the key financial centres in Europe, it's small but it still packs in a whole load of diverse cycle routes. It’s sunny when the rest of Britain is mired in rain. And for all those reasons, I will most definitely be back for more.
HOW TO GET THERE
Easyjet now flies direct from Edinburgh to Jersey on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
WHERE WE STAYED
The Club Hotel & Spa, St Helier
Very centrally located with its own bar, restaurant and spa. Whether you stay here or not, the spa rightfully has a good reputation for its indulgent treatments. It’s small but the indoor salt water pool and thermal suite provide everything you need to while away a few blissful hours. The hotel’s one of the best on the island with the bonus of a sun terrace when you just want to catch some rays. theclubjersey.com
WHERE WE ATE
Salty Dog, St Aubins
An institution for locals, this is where you go for surf & turf. Think relaxed, cool vibes, seafood and great cocktails. Perfect. saltydogbistro.com
El Tico, St Ouens Bay
The Big Blue: tick; Seaview: tick; Surfers: tick; great food: tick; healthy portion sizes: tick. Just go. You won’t regret it. elticojersey.com
Bohemia Restaurant, St Helier
The in-house 5 AA rosette restaurant at The Club Hotel & Spa serves Michelin Star cuisine presented beautifully with good service. The bar provides a less-formal setting for lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. bohemiajersey.com