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Visit Guernsey – Art and Literature Activities

The channel island of Guernsey is the second largest in the tiny archipelago in the English Channel and the largest in the Bailiwick of Guernsey (which also includes the islands of Alderney, Sark, Herm and Jethou). It’s a fabulous place to visit, is easily accessible from the UK and has a fascinating history. If you visit Guernsey there are loads of things to do, especially if you like outdoor activities. There are lots of beautiful walks along spectacular cliff paths, and the island is perfect for spending traditional seaside time on pristine beaches.

Visit Guernsey

There are a bunch of museums and forts to visit and it’s definitely worth investigating day trips or short breaks to the other stunningly beautiful islands.

Guernsey also has a lot to offer if you’re interested in art and literature, and some of these activities are perfect if the weather isn’t on your side for a day at the beach.

Visit Guernsey – The Renoir Walk

The impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir visited Guernsey in 1883 and created some fifteen paintings during his stay. They were all based around the charming Moulin Huet. You can take a walk along Moulin Huet to view its beautiful bay where Art for Guernsey have cleverly set up some picture frames at five locations so that you can see the precise spot where he worked on his pictures. Each site also have a display showing a picture of the original painting so that you see how the landscape has changed over the years. Most of the frames are located close to the beach but there is one that is slightly further out and it’s a climb along the path to the cliff-top to capture the view across the bay.

There’s a small car park at the end of a narrow road and just along the path from there is a map showing where each of the frames is located.

Visit Guernsey

La cote du Moulin Huet.

Visit Guernsey Renoir Walk

Our version of Enfants au bord de la mer à Guernsey should have been entitled Chien au bord de la mer à Guernsey as our shot was photobombed by a very friendly dog.

The foliage had changed over the years since Baie du Moulin Huet a travers les arbres was painted.

It’s a short climb and walk along the cliffs to see Vue de Guernsey.

Visit Guernsey Renoir Walk

Victor Hugo’s Hauteville House

The French author Victor Hugo spent some 15 years on Guernsey from 1855 to 1870, when he decided to live in exile from his home country following Napoleon III’s coup d’etat in 1851 (Hugo lived in Belgium and Jersey before moving to Guernsey). He wrote extensively while on the island and many believe that his time there was his most productive period, indeed Les Miserables was published during his time on the island. He dedicated Les Travailleurs de la Mer to ‘the rock of hospitality and freedom.’

Visit Guernsey

If you visit Guernsey you can tour his former residence, Hauteville House, in St Peter Port

Hauteville House offers a fascinating glimpse into his lifestyle because Hugo decorated the home himself.

Visit Guernsey
Hauteville House
Hauteville House
Hauteville House

We were particularly taken with the dinner plates on the ceiling!

Hauteville House

It is also possible to stroll around the garden of Hauteville House.

Hauteville House gardens

Guernsey Sculpture Park

Another artistic activity when you visit Guernsey is to walk around the sculpture park in the grounds of Sausmarez Manor. It’s located on Sausmarez Road in St Martin, a short bus ride away from St Peter Port.

Visit Guernsey

You can follow the ArtParks trail through a lovely woodland and view a couple of hundred sculptures from artists all over the world. You can even buy some of the sculptures if any take your fancy.

Sausmarez Manor sculpture park
Sausmarez Manor sculpture park
Sausmarez Manor sculpture park
Sausmarez Manor sculpture park

Visit Guernsey – The Candie Art Gallery

The Candie Art Gallery is small but perfectly formed. It has a statue of a striding Victor Hugo in the gardens.

Visit Guernsey

The gallery is part of a wider arts and museum complex, which also includes exhibitions on the island’s history and a highly interactive folklore exhibit which features a recreation of an early 19th century Guernsey cottage (complete with appropriately creepy mannequins) and stories of local legends. Some of the stories are fascinating.

There is also a permanent exhibition art space.

The teeny gallery presents a number of paintings depicting the Bailiwick in chronological order as you circle the exhibition space.

It also hosts some temporary exhibits and there were a couple of very famous names on display when we visited in 2018 – including a Damien Hirst and Yayoi Kusama.

Saumarez Park has a fascinating National Trust Folk & Costume Museum which features a number of exhibits from Guernsey’s history. And there are a number of art galleries on the island, including the Coach House Gallery in St Pierre du Bois as well as Iris And Dora in Ruettes Brayes, St Peter Port. St James The Less, a 200 year-old former church in College Street, St Peter Port, also has a variety of cultural events on offer, including visual art exhibitions and musical performances.

Potato Peel? In a Pie? Literary Guernsey

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a 2008 bestselling novel that was adapted into a film directed by Mike Newell in 2018. It is a historic drama set during the occupation of the Channel Islands in World War 2. It is possible to go on a tour to see some of the locations mentioned in the book. And if you are interested in the history of the occupation there is the German Occupation Museum which is located close to the island’s airport.

Guernsey also has a Literary Festival, this year running from 11th May to 26th June. It offers plenty of events running throughout the duration of the festival, with lots of guest authors visiting the island to give talks, as well as a writing competition for students in the Bailiwick.

Visit Guernsey – The Art of Dining

Guernsey also has a fantastic food scene. While there are great restaurants all over the island, the pretty capital St Peter Port has a plethora of excellent eateries.

Visit Guernsey

Every October the island has a Tennerfest whereby restaurants, hotels, pubs and cafés will put on a special fixed priced menu and offer people the chance to eat out for a much cheaper price than normal. Make sure you to get a reservation, though, the event is really popular and the best emporia will be fully booked. Being an island, the seafood is superb.

Visit
Lobster macaroni cheese
Visit
Scallops and bacon
Tian of crab
Visit Guernsey
Lobster and chips!

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17 Comments

  1. Wow…I had no idea Guernsey was so lovely, with so many important connections. The food alone would be a very good reason to visit…sounds like visiting it in October for the food festival would be a good time to go. How many days would you recommend for a stay in the island?

    • Thank you so much for your comment. We would definitely recommend several days in Guernsey. There are many things to do – both outdoor activities and cultural. The food is splendid, especially the seafood. We’d also suggest trying to do day trips to some of the other islands – Herm is tiny and absolutely charming; it’s easily accessible by boat from St Peter Port harbour – about a 20 minute trip. Sark is a little further away and Alderney is delightful but further yet. All of the islands are stunningly beautiful.

  2. Not so sure about the dinner plate decorations on the ceiling (Kirsty Allsopp does it in every home DIY show too) and I prefer the scenic Renoir walk instead. How cool is that, you can check out his paintings and compare them to the natural beauty that inspired them. Thank you for highlighting all the creative & cultural ties Guernsey has.

    Carolin | Solo Travel Story

    • Thanks so much for your kind comment. We absolutely adored the Renoir walk – it was such a great idea to place picture frames at the location where he actually painted and to see how the landscape had changed (or not) over the years. Moulin Huet really is a gorgeous bay and it’s easy to see how it inspired Renoir.

  3. The Channel Islands are one of those places, that because they are so near to me in the UK I always think I’ll hop over and see then one day …. and then never make an effort to actually go there.
    I never knew Renoir and Victor Hugo lived there and created works while on the island of guernsey. There is so much more there to with all those museums and preserved houses to visit – I just had the impression it was a very expensive holiday resort island.
    With all the culture you have explained here I really ought to make definite plans to visit Guernsey soon.

    • Guernsey really is a delightful place to visit. Yes, there are the beach activities – and the water is absolutely crystal clear – but there are also lots of cultural activities as well. We absolutely loved the Renoir walk, it was such a great idea to place the picture frames at each location.

  4. Love the Renoir history and the walk, so cool. The Victor Hugo house is definitely interesting, I’d love to see it. I think the food scene seems to be the winner here though, such an unexpected treat 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, the Renoir walk was completely brilliant! You’re right, though, the seafood on Guernsey is something else!

  5. Your posts always make me so hungry. What a beautiful place and I love that frame on the shore. I imagine one could take 100’s of photos throughout the day and each would be unique.

    • I’ve never thought that there might be a Guernsey muse but I think you could be right! It’s a really beautiful island and it’s great that there are also so many art and literature connections.

    • We definitely recommend a visit to Guernsey – and indeed all or any of the Channel Islands. They really are delightful. And the beaches are perfect for a day at the seaside with the children!

  6. I loved this post because I’ve wanted to visit Guernsey for a while and just haven’t made it there yet. Oh my, how I would love to do the Renoir Walk! One of my favorite artists. GREAT post!

    • Thank you! We do hope you get to see Guernsey, it’s a lovely island, and has so many things to see and do. We definitely recommend the Renoir walk.

    • Thank you! We really loved the Renoir walk, it was such a brilliant idea to put up the frames and we enjoyed seeing how the landscapes had changed.

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