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Archive for channel islands

The Dark Sky Island

By Linda Tancs

Less than an hour by sea from Jersey or Guernsey, Sark is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in benefits. For instance, it’s Europe’s first International Dark Sky Community (a moniker bestowed by the International Dark-Sky Association), which means you can gaze at countless stars and admire the Milky Way, particularly when the sun sets early like this time of year. It also evokes a step back in time, being devoid of street lighting and cars (excepts tractors for farming). That means you get to take a charming horse-drawn carriage ride around the island or enjoy a five-mile scenic trek from the visitor center to the village. Garden lovers will adore La Seigneurie Gardens, one of the most enchanting gardens in the islands. Overall, its history and culture (like the old windmill, silver mines and Stonehenge-like Sark Henge) attract some 40,000 visitors each year.

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Britain’s Cleanest Beach

By Linda Tancs

Part of the southernmost group of islands that make up the British Isles, Guernsey sits in the Channel Islands, less than 30 miles from the French coast.  This 25-square-mile island is home to some of Europe’s most significant heritage sites, including prehistoric burial sites, World War II gun batteries and ancient forts.   You might be surprised to learn that it also sports Britain’s cleanest beach, Vazon Bay.  Located on the west coast, Vazon Bay is the island’s largest beach, a hot spot for surfers as well as families.  While you’re living the island life, enjoy some potato peel pie.  The dish gained notoriety thanks to the historical novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which tells a story set during the German occupation of Guernsey during World War II, a time of scarcity when even potato peels were not wasted.

The Smallest Church in the World

By Linda Tancs

In the bay of St. Malo in the English Channel lie the Channel Islands, about 30 miles from the north coast of France and 70 miles from the south coast of England.  A world apart from its more cosmopolitan neighbors, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that these ancient islands would yield up some signature sights.  Take, for example, the so-called smallest church in the world on Guernsey.  Aptly named The Little Chapel, the church is beautifully decorated with seashells, pebbles and colorful pieces of broken china. Begun by Brother Déodat in March 1914, the goal was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France.  Admission is free, but do be sure to pick up a souvenir booklet of this amazing structure at the Tourist Office at St. Peter Port.

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