30 Guernsey Essentials: Victor Hugo

Victor HugoDuring 2014, we are celebrating 30 years of bringing customers from the UK to the Channel Islands. As part of this celebration, we will be writing about 30 Guernsey essentials, from attractions and outdoor activities to special local food and some lesser-known island treats.

Part 5: Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo’s life was immensely colourful, romantic and dramatic, and nowhere better than at Hauteville House in St Peter Port can one take the full measure of his extraordinary mind.

Politically exiled from France in 1855, Victor Hugo first stopped in Jersey before spending 15 rich years in Guernsey. By this stage he had developed many sides to his artistic personality and indulged in everything from poetry, photography and art to bric-a-brac collecting. Don’t miss visiting Hauteville House which in the words of his own son is “a veritable three-storey autograph”.

Hauteville House

Walk with Victor Hugo

Whether Victor Hugo chose to be in Guernsey or not, the island and the writer were made for each other! Guernsey’s beauty never ceased to amaze him and he drew wide inspiration from the varied landscapes – inland and coastal. His many afternoon wanderings took him walking the cliff paths in the south and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Fermain Bay on the east coast.

Fermain Bay

Why not do the same and follow in his footsteps for a few hours or possibly over the course of a few days: On the Trail of Victor Hugo in Guernsey is a well devised and informative itinerary, ideal for discovering both Hugo and the beautiful island that he loved.

Toilers of the Sea

Of course one cannot mention Victor Hugo without thinking of his tremendously successful masterpiece “Les Miserables”. But here in Guernsey his love of the island and deep understanding of the islanders led him to write “The Toilers of the Sea”, a novel where sea monsters, smugglers, shipwrecks and spiritualism are the base for a love story with Guernsey as a backdrop.

Guernsey South Coast Cliffs

It was difficult not to give the last word to the great man himself – and amongst the many kind words he spoke of Guernsey maybe this is the most endearing:

“I dedicate this book to the rock of hospitality and liberty, to that portion of old Norman ground inhabited by the noble little nation of the sea, to the island of Guernsey, severe yet kind, my present asylum, perhaps my tomb.”

Victor Hugo

Toilers of the Sea

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