For the past two years I've been lucky enough to join five other bloggers who have become my Cruise Crew in embarking on some amazing journeys all over the world. Sponsored by Princess Cruises, we first met in the Mediterranean. Then came last year's cruise around the Baltic. This year? We were surprised with a 12-day (yes TWELVE DAY) cruise through the English Channel! We sailed from Southampton to the Channel Islands, up through Northern Ireland, around to the Scottish Highlands, and back to London, with a little pit stop in France. Not a bad itinerary, right?
And it all started here at our first stop in the island of Guernsey...
It was only weeks before our trip to the British Isles that I first heard of Guernsey. While the Channel Islands as a whole were familiar, I guess I had never taken the time to memorize the names of each island. But, by the time I had reached our first destination on our English Channel cruise with Princess Cruises, I was certainly not the only one who was suddenly familiar with the history of this place.
So many of you messaged or commented to ask if I had seen the movie "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" which is a ridiculously long title and - sadly - not even filmed in Guernsey. So, I thought I'd get this out of the way first before diving into our trip and experiences: No, I haven't seen the movie (nor read the book), but yes, the history of this island is quite fascinating, and it's just as beautiful as you'd expect!
However, history lessons were not what we were after while enjoying the charms of Guernsey. Rather, our research led us to learn about some lovely hidden gems on the island that I'm going to share with you today!
Our first stop was St. Peter Port where our ship, the Royal Princess, docked for the day. The port itself is worth a walk-through for sure! There are many little shops in the main part of town, which is fun to stroll through. While the history lesson starts with Castle Cornet - which juts out into the sea and is hard to miss - instead, we walked up through the main streets of town to the Candie Gardens...
Small, but worth a little walk through, these gardens date back to the late 19th century and feature the oldest greenhouses in the Isles. The gardens are surrounded by private homes, and I just can't imagine how nice it would be to have this be the view out your back window! There is also an adorable library tucked to the back of the gardens that houses the island's history.
From the gardens, we would have headed to Hauteville House - the former home of writer Victor Hugo. Hugo spent 15 years on the island of Guernsey while in exile from France, and it's where he wrote Moulin Rouge along with many of his other more famous books. What you may not know about him (because I certainly didn't) is that he loved scouring the villages for decor, and the house he helped furnish and decorate is kind of outrageous. Sadly, it's currently closed for renovations (opening back up in 2019) which obviously means I'll need to come back to the island! Here's a peek at the interiors that I found online...
There are tapestries everywhere! I have a feeling this place would be so inspiring to walk through. And how about that crazy tile in the lookout room? I'm sure the views are just insane.
For us, however, we had a different 'house' on our agenda for the day. A stop over at one of the most beautiful hotels on the island, Bella Luce.
Set in an old Norman style manor, the boutique hotel is known for its amazing restaurant as well as its gin! The Wheadon's Gin distillery is right on the premises, adjacent to the restaurant, and they offer tastings daily. You can even create your own gin infusion through a class that takes place before dinner! It distills while you dine, which is basically amazing. If only we had stayed the night!
Now, when it comes to exploring smaller towns, I'm always one to walk as much as possible, because you end up running into adorable homes like this:
However, on Guernsey, if you only have a day or two, taking a cab here and there wouldn't be a bad idea. We were lucky enough to stumble upon some beautiful driveways, but it took us quite a long time to walk from the port to the hotel. The good news is that there are many beautiful walking paths that take you along the coastline or through some random routes and most of them can be found easily on the Guernsey website.
The purpose of our walk, however, wasn't just to pop over to Bella Luce (where we should have just cabbed to for lunch!), but we were purposely hunting down one of the many beach 'kiosks' where you can enjoy tea, dessert, and usually some kind of sandwich while enjoying a view like this one:
Welcome to Moulin Huet beach, where Renoir was took inspiration (how could you not?) from the coastline, and where Christy (my traveling bestie) and I took shelter from some rain and enjoyed this view with our tea and carrot cake.
The tea room itself (Moulin Huet Tearoom) was completely unassuming but charming. I could see how on a beautiful summer day it would be crowded with people, so I suppose we were lucky, in a way, that it was overcast. It was just us and a local couple enjoying the fading hydrangeas and the most beautiful blue waters.
This was definitely one of those cruise stops where I instantly knew I'd want to come back. For a small island, it's surprisingly cultural, with many other award-winning restaurants and so much history. Being so close to both Northern France and Southern England, if you find yourself in either, I'd highly recommend a night or two on this island. And if you're booking a cruise, definitely make sure it's on your itinerary!!
I was definitely sad to say goodbye to this charming port, but there are so many more places I'll be sharing with you from our trip soon!