So now you're probably wondering how I managed to fit in any clothes or other holiday essentials? Well, we were taking our car, which despite being a large 4x4, it was jam packed! Our destination was Jersey. I've been curious about Jersey for years and very excited to discover the island.
Previously, the definition of luxury on holiday might have been about the stunning sea-view, or a super special hotel with butler service, maybe a safari where the host fills quails eggs with bath oil. This time, luxury means a little playground right outside a self-catering apartment, an English speaking kids channel on TV, a kids bedroom that stays dark in the morning & a pool within throwing distance. All of this courtesy of Les Ormes. A spacious apartment, not particularly stylish but all the mod-cons including a washer-dryer. This meant that I could sun worship as soon as I woke up, kids could play instantly & hubbie could relax until he was ready to join us. They have lots of extra activities that you can book as well as an indoor pool, a FunZone indoor play area, and sports clinic on site. I managed to book into a last minute Pilates lesson with Sonja which felt great.
The other benefit of travelling to Jersey with gluten-free travellers is that just up the road there was a Waitrose and a Marks & Spencer. Perfect for stocking up on gluten-free bread, quiche, beer etc. Also just up the road we found a farm shop that had a considerable gf range including products from a nearby gf bakery.
Now don't get me wrong, one of the pleasures of being on holiday is discovering new foods and eating out & Jersey restaurants were fantastic. Here are a few highlights;
Seafish Café, St Aubin
A fantastic upmarket fish and chip restaurant with a wealth of other seafood options and the warmest welcome. Typical fish and chips was available Gluten-free & in mini portions. My favourite was the asparagus & crab starter, closely followed by a red mullet, chorizo, butter bean special
The teeny harbour at Rozel Bay is a beautiful spot. Our girls loved dipping their toes in the sea after dinner and we made a return trip to build sandcastles on the beach the following day. It's a great small beach for families as there's a little stone wall at the side where you can pop your bags and keep them sand-free.
As well as The Navigator which is open for lunch and dinner, there's a cafe called The Hungry Man & Rozel's tea-room which looks unimposing from outside but has a lovely sun terrace and a huge selection of gluten-free food.
Navigator, Rozel Bay
Rozel Bay tea room
Gluten-free scones, a sausage & egg sandwich and a brownie were quickly devoured here after an early start for a stunning boat ride.
Portlet Bay Café
Think this little bay was my absolute favourite. You have to park at the top near a pub and walk down 130 steps. Walk along the beach a short while and you'll see a wooden building that houses a pizza cafe. Usually they have Glutenfree pizza bases, but not suitable for coeliacs due to cross-contamination. I knew this in advance and was expecting to order a salad, but was relying on the pizza option for our gluten sensitive child. They had run out. I thought we were going to have to climb the 130 steps straight away and it was boiling. We ordered a drink to cool down & then I asked if little one could have a little pick and mix plate of various pizza toppings and salad bits & bobs. She was SO good about not getting a pizza and we had a lovely evening. We watched the kids walk down to the beach after they'd finished eating and joined them for a play before catching the sunset.
Driving along the west coast, we were running a bit late for lunch when we drove straight past this place. We decided to turn around and I'm so glad we did. El Tico is beach side café, the ceiling is decorated with surfboards, there's loads of outdoor seating, and a very varied menu. Little one chose grilled chicken and chips and I had a huge and really tasty salad. The rest of the family had desserts whilst I sipped a large glass of super chilled wine - perfect pit stop.
We did plenty of self-catered breakfasts and lunches and the occasional evening meal if the kids seemed too tired. Jersey has a fabulous selection of family friendly restaurants and we found them all to be very approachable in terms of allergies. We treated ourselves to a couple of very special eating out experiences for our last couple of days on the island.
Mark Jordan At The Beach
This is right on the beach although our table was by the entrance so we didn't really appreciate the view on this occasion. This didn't matter though as we ate the most delicious food of our whole trip & one of my favourite desserts ever!
I enjoyed an ox tongue and scallops with minted peas starter, a perfectly cooked pink lamb, tomato, garlic and onion dish with dauphinoise potatoes and then fantastic desserts. Mine was a soufflé with passion fruit ice-cream, perfect! The service here was exemplary and makes me wish we'd made time to experience The Atlantic Hotel - maybe next time!
After experiencing the most relaxing spa session ever - I actually felt my body momentarily drop off asleep during a facial and why i didn't give into it rather than snap back awake, I'll never know - the family joined me at Longueville Manor Hotel. We had pre-ordered afternoon tea, specifying that we needed gluten-free. The hotel which has 30 rooms appeared smaller than I'd imagined. The grounds were so peaceful and calming. There is a tranquil garden, tennis courts, a huge kitchen garden and a lovely, small swimming pool, with comfortable sun loungers in various corners.
There's also a lake with a tree swing that our girls adored! As well as a small climbing frame with a slide hidden amongst trees. If I were visiting without children, I am sure the attentive service and private feel to this hotel would be my first choice. I'm not sure that the atmosphere is best for allowing children to let their hair down and enjoy being kids. In fairness, the hotel's brochure describes making children feel very welcome, they can even stay for free, with babysitting to dedicated menus, from interconnecting rooms to kid's DVDs, they do their utmost to make younger guests feel at home, but I heard parents telling kids to shhhhh - which I do enough of at home! Anyway back to the afternoon tea...knowing that our youngest wouldn't eat the grown-up sandwiches she enjoyed a plain choice. We all thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon tea, the Glutenfree scones were delicious, the jam they were served with was a superior quality choice. I loved the fact that the gf version was very similar to their regular tea with only one little pastry substituted. Chocolate pavé, raspberry macaron, summer berries macaron & a panecotta cake. A very special occasion indeed.
I loved the seaside cottages around Jersey that reminded me of Cornish fishing villages as well as the gorgeous homes that reminded me of mini French chateaux! Place names such as Bonne Nuit, house names such as Le Bon Coin, Le petit chatelet.
Jersey gardeners LOVE hydrangeas, they are everywhere! They're used alongside roads instead of hedges, used on grassy verges, in every colour you could imagine.
Little roadside honesty boxes with stalls selling garden flowers, jersey royals, free range eggs, chutney and veggies were very common.
If you decide to visit Jersey, I'd highly recommend booking a Seafari trip before you travel. Our girls said this was their favourite activity and I have to agree with them. A fantastic & exciting way to see the coast.
Le Mare Wine Estate & chocolate room, the small Jersey Lavender farm, Durrell wildlife park with a baby bear and Gorillas were our other highlights. We also enjoyed a pony trek with Le Claire Riding School which was a lovely way to spend an hour. There are so many other tourist attractions though that I think we'll have make a return visit.
We had fantastic weather, stayed on GMT which keeps life simple with kids! We all enjoyed the French influence, fantastic food, gorgeous scenery and sunsets and made some really special family memories. Now, if anyone would like to invite us back we'll be with you in a jiffy!
Other practical info;
- If you choose to travel by ferry, Condor ferries offer soup & jacket potatoes as gluten-free options
- Our satnav didn't work in Jersey, cue initial panic over using an actual map! However, excellent 3G/4G coverage so google maps to the rescue
- many of the cafés and restaurants featured are small, you would be best to book in advance
PS let me know if you follow in our footsteps?! X