Enjoying a culinary voyage to Guernsey

St George's Esplanade overlooks St Peter Port (Photo by Chris George)

St George's Esplanade overlooks St Peter Port (Photo by Chris George) - Credit: Archant

Living on the South Coast, I often feel the world is our oyster. Looking out across the Solent, the high speed ferries and imposing cruise ships are a constant reminder of how close we are to our neighbouring countries… and beyond.

All it takes nowadays is a quick search online and the very next day you could be flying out of Southampton airport or boarding a vessel to whisk you away on a foreign adventure.

Sometimes our minds are so set on what exotic shores to visit next; we miss the beauty on our doorstep. I am just as guilty of this as the next person, and so on a recent trip over to the second largest of the Channel Islands, Guernsey, I realised you needn’t go far to experience a culture far different to our own.

Just off the coast of Normandy, despite its defence and foreign relations being handled by Great Britain, Guernsey is a Crown Dependency and clearly takes its closer French relation as its inspiration. French road names punctuate street corners and moules frites is readily available in most restaurants. But good ol’ M&S is a high street staple and you’ll find an equal mix of French and English accents as you explore.

This amalgamation of two cultures makes for an interesting atmosphere. Undeniably defined by its beautiful coastline, Guernsey’s draw seems to be its laidback aura and ability to calm and settle even the most fractious of traveller (it was a rather long ferry journey over due to unforeseen circumstances and I may or may not have lost my rag).

By the time we reached our destination of the Fermain Valley Hotel, close to St Peter Port – the main harbour and hub of the island – I was desperate to get to a beach, kick off my shoes and let the sea and sand wash away the last few hours. Luckily, a short stroll through lush, almost tropical gardens rewarded us with said beach, a little café serving cold beer and doorstep sandwiches and bobbing fishing boats – picture postcard perfect!

The view over the inlet from our room meant the relaxation and calm was always with us as we settled quickly in to our new environment. A swim in the hotel’s pool and a glass of fizz later and all memory of our crossing had been forgotten as we prepared ourselves for the feast awaiting us in the Ocean restaurant, which prides itself on its fresh fish and seafood in a relaxed and modern environment.

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‘Fab food’ could be Guernsey’s Island motto – or something a little catchier. The next day we ventured in to St Peter Port to take a wander around the food festival that had popped up overnight along the harbour wall. We concluded our wonderful meal at the hotel probably wasn’t a fluke as we sampled the wares of local producers and agreed that with produce as good as that, Guernsey’s chefs were clearly spoilt for choice.

Lunch at one of the harbour side restaurants confirmed our suspicions and we only wished we were there longer to experience more of the Island’s foodie fare.

Taking a drive across to the other side of the island to Vazon and Cobo Bay, we discovered beautiful beaches and the remains of some of the old forts we have seen in abundance on trips to nearby Alderney and Jersey. Further round, L’Ancresse’s white sand beach delights, and is the perfect spot to take a dip if you’re brave enough at this time of year.

Book your stay

Experience the Fermain Valley Hotel for yourself with their Fly & Stay 3 night breaks. Starting from £287.50 pp and including flights from Southampton, bed and breakfast, a complimentary three course meal on one evening in the 2AA rosette Ocean restaurant and complimentary use of the hotel’s facilities including the indoor pool, sauna and private cinema. Contact 0800 316 0314 or email book@fermainvalley.com.

You can also travel across to Guernsey via Condor Ferries where a vehicle crossing starts from £78 from Portsmouth. A great way to travel if you’re looking for a longer break and wish to explore the island by car.