The island of Guernsey is divided into 10 parishes. St Peter Port is the capital and the most populated. Castel is the largest in terms of land area. Torteval is the smallest parish and the least populated. St. Andrew is the only parish without a coastline.
Castel is home to around 8,700 Guernsey residents and is the largest parish in terms of area. The parish plays host to a number of community events, including La Viaer Marchi – a celebration of traditional Guernsey culture – and the North Show, which features the Battle of Flowers. This parish is a peaceful area of the island and its coastline is home to some of the island’s most popular beaches.
Castel has clear evidence of changes in ancient sea-levels, with trunks of an oak forest visible at low spring tides on Vazon beach.
Forest houses around 1,500 Guernsey residents, has large areas of open land and is home to Guernsey Airport. The parish is also well known for floral displays that have won many Floral Guernsey and Britain in Bloom awards over the years. As with most parishes on the island, you are never too far from a beach and Forest is no exception to this.
Forest is the highest parish on the island, with altitudes of up to 100m.
St Andrew’s is located in the centre of Guernsey and is home to around 2,300 Guernsey residents. Its central location means that it is the only parish on the island to be landlocked. St Andrew’s features many hills and valleys and its land use is generally agricultural.
St Andrew’s is home to The Little Chapel – one of the world’s smallest chapels – which is decorated with seashells, pebbles and broken china.
St Martin’s is one of the most popular parishes on the island, housing just over 6,200 residents. It offers quiet country lanes, beautiful cliff walks, stunning scenery and is within close proximity to the airport and Guernsey’s capital parish, St Peter Port. It also has various independent shops and restaurants in the parish and offers a mix of a rural and suburban lifestyle.
Guernsey’s most intriguing ancient monument sits just outside the entrance to St Martin’s Parish Church. La Gran’mère du Chimquière (the grandmother of the churchyard) is a statue-menhir thought to date back to around 2500 BC
St. Peter Port
St Peter Port is the capital of Guernsey and houses around 18,600 residents. The parish is home to the island’s main harbour and is a hub for local businesses, with a high street combining a mix UK shops and independent boutiques, as well as a huge choice of fantastic restaurants. With its cobbled streets, picturesque sea front, marina and historic gardens, it’s easy to see why St Peter Port is considered one of Europe’s prettiest harbour towns.
French writer Victor Hugo made St Peter Port his home during his period of exile between 1855 and 1870, writing his epic novel Les Misérables at his home, Hauteville House.
St. Pierre du Bois
St Pierre Du Bois houses just over 2,000 residents and is the centre for Guernsey’s western parishes which include Torteval, St Saviour’s and Forest. The parish is very rural, mainly countryside with a small village in the centre. The parish is home to Fort Grey – a Martello tower in the centre of Rocquaine Bay which is affectionally known as the Cup & Saucer. The tower houses a shipwreck museum and offers spectacular views of the bay and the Hanois Lighthouse.
Lihou is a small island just off the coast of St Peter’s, accessed by a causeway at low tide. Lihou has a fascinating and varied history as well as having interesting wildlife, both above and below the high water mark.
St Sampson’s is home to around 9,000 residents. The parish is divided into two non-contiguous sections, the bulk of the parish lying on the east coast with a smaller section lying on the west coast. St Sampson’s harbour is Guernsey’s second biggest port and was historically a centre for shipbuilding.
The parish church claims to be the oldest of Guernsey’s parish churches, standing where Samson of Dol arrived from Brittany in the sixth century.
St Saviour’s is one of Guernsey’s most rural parishes and is home to nearly 2,800 islanders. The parish contains many protected historic constructions, World War II fortifications and is crisscrossed by a network of small country lanes.
St Saviour’s is home to the main reservoir, providing a water supply to the whole island.
Le Trepied in St Saviour’s is a well-preserved dolmen or megalithic tomb on the headland known as Le Catioroc. Le Trepied is associated with fairies and Guernsey folklore and was believed to be a meeting place for witches.
Torteval is the smallest of the 10 parishes of Guernsey with a population of fewer than 1,000 residents. Its name comes from the Guernesiais words for ‘twisting valley’.
The Hanois lighthouse can be seen standing on the rocks about a mile off Pleinmont point on the south-west corner of the parish. The lighthouse was completed in 1862 and was that last in the British Isles to be automated in 1996.
The parish is home to two popular summer events – ‘The Rocquaine Regatta’, a unique local event that takes place around Rocquaine bay, and the Torteval Scarecrow Festival.
Vale is the second largest parish in size and is home to just over 9,500 residents. Some of the highlights of the parish are the beautiful sands of L’Ancresse and Pembroke Bays and the L’Ancresse Golf links, a challenging 18-hole golf course and home to two of the island’s golf clubs.
Vale is also home to the picturesque Beaucette Marina, on the north-east point of Guernsey. This Marina was created when the British army blasted an entrance between a large granite quarry and the sea.