The Channel Island of Jersey is just 14 miles from France. The vast majority of the street names are French. Until the middle of last century, many of the islanders spoke a largely incomprehensible (to outsiders) version of Norman French known as Jerriais or Jersey French.
Jersey and the rest of the channel islands are entirely British. They are, however, not part of the United Kingdom.
And their loyalty to the British Crown comes from William the Conqueror!
Yes, it’s complicated and the best way to make some sense of the history and heritage of Jersey is to spend your first day, or a good proportion of it, at Elizabeth Castle close by the main town of St. Helier.
Make sure you arrive before midday and you will spend an informative and amusing few hours being introduced to the characters and events that have formed the modern island. Along the way, you can witness drill manoeuvres, watch and even assist in the live firing of a cannon and make sure that you cover your ears for the live musket firing demonstration.
When the tide is in, you can get to and from the castle on an amphibious truck. When the tide is out it is possible to walk both ways along a concrete causeway. However when you get to the castle, they may claim not to be able to understand French – a ‘ruse de guerre’ employed by a Captain Mulcaster which allowed precious time for reinforcements to arrive during the Battle of Jersey in 1781.