St Peter Port, Guernsey

St Peter Port, Guernsey

The disabled cruiser visiting St Peter Port will ascertain that St Peter Port is not wheelchair friendly. It is built on a steep hill, there are steps in places and on certain sections of the traffic free main street cobbles have been retained. While there would be one or two streets that a person in a wheelchair could easily navigate (ones close to the sea front) most of the town would be very hard to get round.

There are a number of wheelchair adapted taxis on the island. It is advisable to book Guernsey wheelchair adapted taxis early whenever possible, especially when demand is greatest. A helpful list of taxi service is located at http://www.visitguernsey.com/taxis.

The Guernsey Information Center is a spacious old building on the harbor frontage with a display area and a very large and well stocked shop with diverse items for sale. Plenty of information and lots of leaflets. A lift is available for the disabled cruiser.

St Peter Port is a tender port – Ships have to anchor off St Peter Port and tender passengers ashore by boat. When tendering is required, guests using mobility devices will not be transferred into or out of the tender. Many tender ports do not provide wheelchair access so even if the guest can board the tender they may not be able to disembark ashore. Again the shore-side facilities, movement of the tender, weather and tidal conditions can also preclude tendering.

St Peter Port, Guernsey

St Peter Port is the principle town on the island of Guernsey. It is the second largest of the several Channel Islands located 30 miles west of France’s coast of Normandy and 75 miles south of Weymouth on the south coast of England.

St Peter Port is walkable although some attractions are up a steep hill, so visitors may prefer to take a taxi/bus.

Places of interest include Castle Cornet, Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery Bailiwick of Guernsey Millennium Tapestry.

The attractive nearby island of Herm is a 20 minute boat ride from St Peter Port. With no cars, the island is a hiker’s delight with many coastal and inland paths. The beaches are lovely, although the water may well be too cold for swimming.

During the circular Guernsey island drive by local bus, there are a number of beach stops, perfect for coastal walks and local sightseeing via the circular Guernsey island bus. Vazon Bay has the Fort Hommet Gun Casement, built by the Nazis during the WWII occupation and Fort Grey, at L’Eree is a round Martello Tower located on a rocky islet as part of the island’s coastal defense. It is now a shipwreck museum.

Where You’re Docked

St Peter Port is an anchorage port. Passengers transfer to shore via ship’s tender.

Small cruise ships may dock along one of St Peter Port’s stone piers, but most anchor off with a short 10 to 15-minute tendering transfer to the landing at Albert Pier, at a purpose built pontoon which can take three tenders at once.

There is a tiny staffed shelter with visitor information on Albert Pier as you disembark. If you are on an organised shore excursion, you’ll find the buses parked just to the right of here. If you are not, it’s a few seconds walk to St. Peter Port’s town center, stretching along the Esplanade. You can then turn right or left along the frontage or head inland to one of the parallel shopping streets and continue up the hill to several attractions of interest.

Good to Know

Keep your wits about you when crossing the streets, as the traffic drives on the left as in the British Isles. Many St. Peter Port streets are narrow, they tend to be one way, and it is always advisable to use the zebra-striped pedestrian crossing points on the busier thoroughfares. Once you step off the curb onto one, you have the right-of-way over vehicular traffic.

Getting Around

By foot: The best way to see St. Peter Port is by foot, but be warned, the hills behind the main harbor front road are steep.

By taxi: Taxis are available on the pier and at stands along the Esplanade.

By bus: The island’s excellent bus network takes you directly to all the important attractions and provides a scenic circular drive on the 91 route, operating both clockwise and counterclockwise every half hour. The 90-minute island overview follows narrow lanes through small settlements, passes farms raising the prized Guernsey cows and, in places, skirts the rugged coastline. The flat one-pound fare for any distance is payable to the driver as you board. From the pier, the main bus terminal is located just to your left, short walk along the South Esplanade. 

Currency 

The official currency is the Guernsey pound, and its value is tied to the British pound sterling. Both currencies are readily accepted. Several banks offer ATMs along the Esplanade, parallel to High Street and Le Pollet and one short block inland; these dispense Guernsey currency only. The local currency includes a paper one-pound note (unlike in Britain) and the island’s own set of coins (pence). Credit cards are widely accepted, though small purchases and bus tickets will require cash.

Language

The official language in St Peter Port and throughout the Channel Islands is English. While many local residents are originally from Britain, some island-born residents also speak Guernesiaise or Dgernesiais, a Franco-Norman language that dates back to the Middle Ages.

Shopping

Good buys are Guernsey knitwear, such as jumpers (sweaters) and colorful tea towels with island scenes. Locally made handbags and jewelry can be found also. 

Fresh local fish and shellfish are featured on nearly all menus. Enjoy the Dover sole or fillet of plaice and king prawns, lobsters, crayfish, crabs and mussels. About a dozen restaurants with widely varying menus and prices line the Esplanade, which runs at right angles to St. Julian’s Pier.

Points of Interest

  • Little Chapel – Visit the Little Chapel of Guernsey. Set in the countryside along a tree-lined path sits a miniature church. Made of simple materials, the church is beautifully decorated with pebbles, shells and pieces of colorful broken china. The Disabled Cruiser will find that as it is built on the side of a small valley it has several steps. It is easily viewed from outside, but access to the little chapel is pretty much impossible with many steps and no access for wheelchairs. 
  • Workshops – The Gold and Silversmiths Workshops are situated in a converted barn which dates back to 1582. Take in a close-up view of the traditional craft being carried out before your very eyes.
  • Sausmarez Manor – Enjoy a guided tour of the Sausmarez Manor and experience a time capsule of Guernsey’s changing fortunes. View the Tapestry Room, containing King James II’s wedding coat, and the Dining Room, which holds a collection of family portraits. The Disabled Cruiser will have limited accessible access.
  • Sark and La Seigneurie – Board the ferry to Sark, one of the last feudal states in Europe. Take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and explore this island of steep cliffs and rocky coves. Continue on to the superb gardens surrounding La Seigneurie.
  • Castle Cornet – Built in the 13th century to guard the harbor, the fortress boasts a long and bloody history. Take in the dark dungeons and witness the ancient weapons ranging from crossbows and catapults to muskets and cannons. The Disabled Cruiser will find the castle guarding the entrance to the harbor. It is easy to access by walking/rolling, however, the castle itself is not wheelchair friendly Lots of steps and multi-levels with no ramps or lifts.  
  • German Occupation Museum and Underground Hospital – View a selection of musical instruments, uniforms, weapons and equipment. Continue on to the Underground Hospital. The complex contains a maze of tunnels which cover an area of about 75,000 square feet. For the Disabled Cruiser wheelchair accessibility  is on ground level only and the cafe.
  • Herm – Less than a square mile in area, Herm is the smallest of the Channel Islands. Travel to the island and see the Herm School and St. Tugual’s Chapel. Enjoy the chapel’s breathtaking stained glass.

St Peter Port Accessible Excursions

Picturesque fishing harbors, white sandy beaches, lovely homes, and buckets of sunshine combine to make St. Peter Port a pleasant stopover. See the 11th century parish church of St. Peter, from which the city derives its name. From the cliffs that border the island you can see the coastline of France 8 miles away, the area from which Guernsey’s early inhabitants migrated.

There are no organized accessible shore excursions in St Peter Port. Disabled Cruisers are encouraged to use the handicapped accessible taxis for a private tour of St Peter Port.