English is the official language here, but there is no doubting that the Channel Islands have a distinctly French character. Even though they have been dependencies of the United Kingdom since the Norman Conquest almost a thousand years ago, the Anglo-French cultural fusion found in this destination is hardly surprising. After all, they are situated just off the northwest coast of France and about 90 miles (145km) south of England.

The clutch of five islands is very small, their total area adding up to less than 80 square miles (207 sq km). The largest and most popular are Jersey and Guernsey. The other three are Herm, Sark, and Alderney.

The laid back beach and country lifestyle of the island group reflects a French influence. This is embodied in the cuisine most of all, particularly the seafood dishes, and jolly festivals such as Jersey's annual 'Battle of the Flowers'.

For British holidaymakers in particular, the islands provide a comfortable 'home from home' vacation station in the sunniest and warmest corner of the British Isles. Apart from lovely, scenic beaches that are well-known by avid watersports enthusiasts, there is plenty of history and heritage to explore and discover in the main towns of St Helier (Jersey) and St Peter Port (Guernsey).

Museums, historic buildings and traditional events commemorate a colourful past. Most notably, these features detail its more recent military and maritime history as the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by the Germans during World War II.

Hiking, cycling, and golf are also enjoyable leisure pursuits that are well-catered for on the islands. The natural beauty and array of adventurous activities account for the Channel Islands' well-deserved reputation as an ideal bi-cultural destination for a quiet outdoor-oriented holiday.