St Ouen - Jersey
On the northwest and west coast St Ouen has some of the most rugged scenery in the island. This is wind-swept territory, with few trees, low hedges and small intensely-farmed fields divided up by low-lying granite walls. Its main attraction is the five-mile sandy beach which stretches from the lighthouse of Corbiere in the south to the rocks of L’Etacq in the north, the central section of which has some of the best surfing in Europe. This area is protected against housing development and just inland from the beach is an important nature reserve with its lake surrounded by reeds and sand dunes, a sanctuary for migrating birds. The rocky northwest coast drops vertically to the sea but hidden between its cliffs is the sandy inlet of Plemont, a dramatic beach with numerous caves, which is also good for surfing. A large housing development is threatened in this outpost of the island but vocal local protest groups are holding up the go-ahead. There are still active farms in the parish (mainly flowers, tomatoes and potatoes) but the housing is a bit austere and the gardens have a Mediterranean feel. The exception is the area around the island’s foremost manor house, St Ouen’s Manor. There is also a race course on the far northwest headland which is being modernised and attracts increasing numbers of fans. From here it is possible to see all the other Channel Islands (Guernsey, Sark, Herm and Alderney) on a clear day. For those working in St Helier, it is about a 30-minute drive each way but the coastal views are some of the best in the island and the breath-taking sunsets are reason enough to live here.