THERE is little chance of being one of Les Miserables on the island of Guernsey.
While the French author Victor Hugo wrote Les Mis on the Channel Island when living there between 1855 and 1870, these days you are assured a warm welcome with a splash of Gallic flair.
Autumn is the perfect time to take a break on this beautiful retreat and breathe fresh ocean air.
With the leaves turning, it is also lovely to strike out on foot.
And until September 26, the Guernsey Autumn Walking Festival promises visitors a choice of 40 morning, afternoon and evening guided walks to explore the island and its little neighbours Herm and Sark.
There is no traffic chaos here, just narrow, winding country lanes and coastal paths to enjoy.
Follow one of my favourites to Moulin Huet Bay. Pretty enough for Renoir to paint, you can see how he captured it through picture frames set up to portray the views through his perspective.
Youngsters will love a day on the beach exploring the caves, paddling in rock pools and splashing in waterfalls while you stretch out on the sand and take a dip in the warm sea.
Fishing fans can take to the waters or cast a rod from the south’s rocky coastline and the north’s sandy beaches.
For the active among you, there are pristine golf courses and plenty of official bike tours to explore on two wheels.
St Peter Port is a gem of a town for foodies and shoppers to explore, made all the more pleasant with shopfronts and streets sporting containers of colourful seasonal flowers.
Many of the harbour-side former warehouses are now converted to stylish restaurants, with menus and prices to suit every taste.
Fresh fish dishes are delicious and we lunched at Mora, named after the single-masted Norse sailing ship that bore William the Conqueror to England to seize the Crown in 1066.
Dinner was at Le Nautique, popular with the locals for its mouthwatering classic dishes given a modern twist.
It is definitely the place for hand-dived scallops.
For a deeper dip into the island’s gastronomy, check out Nicola Terry’s Pork, Walk And Talk tours at Wallow Farm.
Inspired by the World War Two-set novel The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society, it includes a tour of the charcuterie farm, giving guests a chance to learn about pig-farming on the island and taste the flavoursome results.
The tour is from £45pp and includes charcuterie tasting, a G&T with local gin and a set main-course dinner. See wallow.gg.
New for 2021, visitors can join Ben, Guernsey’s only seaweed farmer, for a hands-on tour learning all about the history of seaweed and its uses in farming, cooking and the fashion industry.
Tours are from £20 with under-15s going free. See guernseyseaweed.com.
The island’s rich history includes the development of vineries (glasshouses) that grew Muscat Canon Hall grapes for wine before being adapted over the years to grow fruit and vegetables during the dark days of World War Two.
Rising fuel prices and competition made cultivation no longer viable, but now several large vineries are coming back to life, being used to grow cannabis — under strict licence, for medicinal purposes — by a US company.
It is now half a century since I worked in Guernsey several times a year, advising vinery owners — and while much has changed horticulturally, the island remains as beautiful and relaxed as ever.
Take the bus, which serves the island every half hour, and for a modest fare have easy access to all it has to offer.
When it comes to accommodation, there are options for all budgets.
If you want a treat then book into the 4H La Fregate Hotel, a stylish townhouse hotel with 22 rooms and its own terraced garden with panoramic views over St Peter Port Harbour.
It is just a five-minute walk from the town’s shopping centre.
But wherever you stay on the sunny shores of Guernsey, you will be sure of relaxation and a slice of the good life.
COVID: Fully vaccinated visitors can enter without quarantine but must buy a pack of five lateral flow tests for £25 and fill in the island’s Travel Tracker form.
GETTING THERE: Guernsey’s airline, Aurigny, flies from multiple regional airports. Return flights from Gatwick are priced from £100pp, including 10kg hand baggage. See aurigny.com.
STAYING THERE: A standard double room with breakfast at Le Fregate Hotel costs is from £215 per night. See lafregatehotel.com.
OUT & ABOUT: For walking tours around the island with guide Gill Girard, see gillgirardtourguide.com. Walking festival, see visitguernsey.com/see-and-do/events-festivals/autumn-walking-festival.
MORE INFO: See visitguernsey.com.