St Peter Port, the island’s capital, is a bustling harbour town, a tapestry of architectural styles that tell the story of the region’s changing fortunes. Here bistros, restaurants and boutiques jostle for your attention, while in the harbour ferries are readied to take you to the sister islands.
Families have been drawn to Guernsey for generations, enjoying a holiday destination where kids can roam free while parents relax with a book on the beach. The pace of life is certainly more relaxed than mainland Britain, so take your time, wander the coastline, enjoy a round of golf and stroll the streets of the island's pretty capital, St Peter Port.
Lush botanical gardens, alluring hidden coves, and glorious sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean give the Chanel Island of Guernsey a distinctly subtropical feel. Sitting just 45km (28 miles) from France, this little isle also has a Gallic air, with French street names, exquisite culinary flare and the ease with which many people speak both English and French giving the island a romantic quality.
In the 11th century, the Channel Islands, of which Guernsey is one, were part of the Duchy of Normandy. When William, Duke of Normandy, conquered England, the Channel Islands were incorporated into the combined realm of both England and Normandy. King John of England lost mainland Normandy to the French 140 years later, but the Channel Islands stayed loyal to England. The French made many subsequent attempts (all of which were repelled), over the ensuing centuries to capture the islands. But one famous French inhabitant, the author Victor Hugo, stayed for 15 years.
The Germans were more successful than the French is occupying the island. Forces landed during World War II. Some of the island's population and many children were evacuated to England before the Germans arrived. Recently the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, an international bestseller, has attracted interest in the German occupation of the island, and the harsh conditions people lived under.
Guernsey has long enjoyed a large degree of internal self-government, with its own legal and political institutions as a British Crown Dependency. It is also responsible for the government of the small neighbouring islands of Alderney, Sark and Herm. While not in the UK, its laws still have to be signed-off by the Westminster Privy Council. The island has, however, recently come under pressure from both the Westminster government and the EU to reform its tax regulations that have helped it establish itself as a financial centre.