Occupying the north-western corner of Jersey, St Ouen is the island’s most rustic parish. Predominantly agricultural, St Ouen features miles of untouched landscapes and is the perfect blend of history and nature. With some of the island’s best beaches, historic monuments and a vast portion of Jersey National Park, St Ouen has all the elements that make up the most authentic Jersey experience.
St Ouen is the furthest parish from the capital of Jersey, St Helier and is also considered to be the most traditional of the 12 parishes. St Ouennais carries the traditional nickname of ‘Gris Ventres’, or ‘grey bellies’ due to when men of the parish used to wear jerseys of undyed wool to distinguish them from the usual blue jerseys that men from other parishes usually wore.
St Ouen History
St Ouen is a treasure trove for a rich literary history due to many of Jersey’s most influential writers living there. George F. Le Feuvre, who wrote as George d’la Forge was one of the most prolific authors and due to this became known as ‘Jerriais literature’ of the 20th century. Frank Le Maistre, who compiled the Dictionnaire Jersiais Francais to standardise the St Ouennais dialect of Jerriais also live in St Ouen.
Historic Sites and Attractions in St Ouen
St Ouen has a character of its own from all of the offerings of nature from beaches to oceans to hills to cliffs to forests to historic monuments and tourist attractions – there is always something to do in the Island’s largest parish. There are a number of prehistoric sites such as ‘dolen des Monts Grantez’, ‘dolmen des Geonnais’ and ‘Le Pinacle’ which is a small temple.
Sitting on the island’s north-west corner, the ruins of the 14th century Grosnez Castle stand proudly overlooking the coast. Ruined since the 16th century, Grosnez Castle is an iconic landmark in the island’s history and visitors can enjoy exploring the ruined grounds with magnificent views out to sea. Its position on Jersey’s north-western tip makes Grosnez Castle a popular stopping point for both hikers and cyclists.
Jersey is bursting with war history and the island is scattered with buildings and coastal batteries from the second world war. Battery Moltke is an uncompleted coastal artillery battery in St Ouen that was built during the German occupation of the Channel Islands. One of the guns housed at the battery is in position at Battery Moltke making it a key location in Jersey’s war history to visit. Visitors can take in a piece of the island’s war heritage by exploring the battery and other historic war sites nearby. For an extensive tour of the island’s war history, including a visit to Battery Moltke, Jersey War Tours offers fascinating and informative tours taking in war sites across the island.
Housed in a German bunker that was part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall of Defence, the Channel Islands Military Museum is a key player in documenting Jersey war history. The museum tells the story of Jersey through the island’s five years of German occupation whilst also showcasing historic artefacts including weaponry, uniforms and other items.
Other Points of Interest in St Ouen
One of Jersey’s most popular summertime beaches, Greve de Lecq sits on Jersey’s north coast straddling the parishes of St Ouen and St Mary. The beach offers golden sands for relaxing and calm waters, great for swimming. There are also a number of great walking trails surrounding Greve de Lecq.
For an alternative beach option on the north coast, Plemont Bay offers a sheltered beach with a dramatic landscape. During high tide, the sands at Plemont Bay are completely covered making for an interesting beach when the waves retreat, revealing rock pools and sea caves.
However, the most famous beach in St Ouen is undoubtedly St Ouen’s Bay. A large chunk of the 5-mile bay is at home in St Ouen and is a popular spot for surfing, family beach days and offers excellent sunset views.
Shopping, Dining and Nightlife in St Ouen
With its long beach stretch, a myriad of souvenir shops are scattered along the coast whilst a handful of surfing stores can also be found. In addition, Jersey Pearl sits on the west coast in St Ouen. Jersey Pearl is more of an experience than a store allowing you to select your own oyster and discover your pearl before selecting the jewellery it will be the centrepiece of. Jersey Pearl provides educational talks about oysters and pearls whilst also featuring a beachfront café.
As Jersey’s haven for surfing, dining in St Ouen fits in with the laid-back beach vibe. There are an abundance of charming cafes, coastal bars and beachside kiosks to choose from, all offering relaxed dining. El Tico Beach Cantina is St Ouen’s highlight and a local institution, overlooking one of Europe’s finest beaches and serving inventive twists on hearty dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Although St Ouen was once Jersey’s nightlife hotspot, these days, St Ouen’s late scene is relatively non-existent. The Five Mile Road which was once lined with buzzing bars, clubs and restaurants still features a number of exciting beach bars and restaurants but evenings there are a more relaxed affair. If you are looking for a chilled evening with a beach vibe, St Ouen may just be the place.
Sports and Events in St Ouen
With a great chunk of St Ouen’s Bay sitting within the parish, St Ouen is an incredible destination for surfing. Jersey boasts one of the world’s best tidal ranges and St Ouen’s Bay is one of the best places to catch the waves. With a great surf, the five-mile stretch of the bay offers challenges for experienced wave-riders and calmer sections for new surfers. St Ouen’s Bay is one of the surf capitals of Europe and has been a firm favourite with surfers since the 1960’s.
St Ouen is also the home of Jersey’s horse racing with Jersey Race Club nestled in the north-west corner close to Grosnez. Jersey Race Club offers a day at the races for all the family with 9 race meetings throughout the summer months. Race days at Jersey Race Club are very relaxed with no formal dress code and provide the perfect opportunity to simply enjoy horse racing.
St Ouen Transportation
As a mainly rural parish, the easiest way to navigate St Ouen is by car. Driving around Jersey is incredibly straightforward for UK citizens and visitors to Jersey have the option to travel by sea with their own vehicle or to hire one on arrival. Car rental is available in multiple locations across Jersey including at the airport and ferry terminal.
Jersey’s public transportation LibertyBus also provides access to St Ouen with three routes running through the parish and stops at points of interest. Whilst service number 8 will take you to Plemont, the number 9 calls at Greve de Lecq. Route 8 runs from St Helier whilst 9 and 22 offer connections to Jersey Airport.
Thanks to its rugged terrain and stunning views, St Ouen is also a popular location for cycling in Jersey. Offering both country and coastal routes, cycling trails in St Ouen boast some of the best views on the island. Popular cycling routes include cycling the entire west coast or travelling along the north coast to Grosnez Castle.