Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times
Just off the coast of Normandy, France - Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Herm and Alderney beckon with exquisite coastlines, shaded lanes and old-world charm. Not quite Britain and not quite France, the islands are proudly independent, self-governing British Crown dependencies that straddle the gap between the two. Their citizens owe their allegiance to Her Majesty, but some still speak local dialects that stem from medieval Norman French.
The warm Gulf of St Malo ensures subtropical plants and an incredible array of birdlife. The Channel Islands enjoy sunnier days and milder winters than the UK, attracting walkers and outdoorsy types for surfing, kayaking, coasteering and diving. Superb local seafood graces the tables of local restaurants in the cultural hubs of St Helier (Guernsey) and St Peter Port (Jersey).
Numerous forts and castles dot the coastlines, while poignant museums – some housed in old war tunnels and bunkers – provide an insight into the islanders' fortitude during WWII. Add to that world-class sandy beaches, cobbled streets and shaded country lanes, and the Channel Islands can keep you busy for quite some time.