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The Bailiwick of Guernsey is located in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy and is a dependent of the British Crown. Its status to the British Crown is similar to that of the Isle of Man and it is not part of the European Union. It belongs to the Common Travel Area and is one of the Channel Islands.
It was around 8000 BC when Guernsey was separated by rising sea levels from the mainland of Europe. The earliest evidence of man being there was established with the discovery of the Neolithic manmade burial mound of Les Fouillages. There are also archaeological remains of defence works dated as far back as 2000 BC, along with traces of Roman and Iron Man age artefacts.
The Channel Islands were considered to be a part of Normandy from 933AD and this is reflected in the law, the language and the surnames of present day Guernsey denizens. Guernsey was a close ally of King John of England when he lost the battle of Guernsey to Phillippe Augustus of France; the landmark Castle Cornet was built during this time to repel the French invasion. Today it stands as a testament to Guernsey history and it is an active place of interest with spectacular museums and is also a lively musical venue.
However, it is World War II that left a lasting mark on the community and landscape of Guernsey. The German occupation came just after the island evacuated some adults and children to the United States. As a result of the succeeding years of occupation over half of the population were gone from the island or were killed. It had a profound effect on the language and customs of the island. Today there are museums and fortifications standing in testimony to life during World War II. Guernsey marks the end of the occupation with a celebration called Liberation Day on May 9th of each year.
Flights to Guernsey are primarily served by Guernsey Airport. The States of Guernsey own their own airline, Aurigny Air Services, to protect air routes and links to the island; this provides cheap flights to Guernsey. Other airlines offering cheap flights to Guernsey are Flybe and bmi.
There are many iconic images that have come to symbolise Guernsey in the eye of the world. The Guernsey jumper is known for its water repellent wool and styled craftsmanship, the famous Guernsey cow, and its most famous literary giant, French poet Victor Hugo. Hugo wrote Les Miserables here and his home is now open to the public during the summer months.
Guernsey is also interlinked with the sea with its history of fishing, privateering, merchants' harbour and shipbuilding. The safe, deep anchorage and remoteness from the French coastline made St Peter's Port a haven for so many adventurers.
The island is a stunning cross of Regency and Georgian styles softened by the Parisian style of émigrés. Today the town is a delightful tumble of terraces and gardens tiered and criss-crossed by hidden alleyways and paths.
Shopping is an experience to be savoured in Guernsey. The island offers a variety of low duty goods and is a great place for buying electronic items, cameras, perfume, jewellery and wine. There are small boutique shops and antique stores to browse through, situated along streets that are dotted with outdoor cafes.
Places of interest are the German Military Underground Hospital, which was erected using slave labour by the German forces and was hand hewn out of solid rock. Perhaps, it is the Castle Cornet that will spark interest or the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery designed around an old Victorian grandstand. The grandstand provides a versatile outdoor auditorium used for recitals of all music genres and other activities for both residents and tourists alike.
Guernsey also has subtropical gardens and walking routes, and within the grounds of Sausmarez Manor is an art park that contains one of the largest exhibitions of sculpture anywhere in the world.
Of course, with the proximity of the sea there is a great incentive to pursue outdoor activities and there is cycling, diving, sailing and angling available. It is also a destination for windsurfing and surfing enthusiasts alike. There are qualified guides available for walking tours, bird watching activities or just grab a map and wander around by yourself.
The abundance of bounty from the sea and land makes dining in Guernsey a once in a lifetime event, with Thai, Italian, Indian and Spanish restaurants jockeying alongside traditional pubs and contemporary cuisines to tickle the nostrils with delicious aromas and beckon a hungry diner inside.
Guernsey is a beautiful island and one that cannot be fully experienced in just one visit.