Les Minquiers, Les Mîntchièrs, The Minkies
La Maîtr' Île
LocationEnglish Channel
Coordinates48°58′14″N 02°03′43″W / 48.97056°N 2.06194°W / 48.97056; -2.06194
Major islandsMaîtresse Île / Maîtr' Île
Les Maisons
Populationnone permanent
Official nameLes Minquiers, Jersey
Designated2 February 2005
Reference no.1456[1]

The Minquiers (Les Minquiers; in Jèrriais: Les Mîntchièrs pronunciation; known as "the Minkies" in local English) are a group of islands and rocks, about 15 km (9.3 mi) south of Jersey. They form part of the Bailiwick of Jersey.[2] They are administratively part of the Parish of Grouville, and of its Vingtaine La Rocque.[3]

The rock shelf around the Minquiers has a larger surface area than Jersey itself, but at high tide only a few of the main heads remain above water.[4] The largest of these is Maîtresse, which is about 50 m (55 yd) long and 20 m (22 yd) wide and has about ten stone cottages in various states of repair. These are the most southerly buildings in the British Isles; but they have no permanent inhabitants; though fishermen, vraic (seaweed used for fertilizer) collectors, yachtsmen, kayakers, and even radio amateurs[5] make summer landfall.[2]


The etymology of the name is disputed, and could either come from the Breton language minihi meaning a sanctuary, or from minkier meaning a seller of fish.[6]


Drone image

Thousands of years ago, around the time of the last glacial period, when sea level was lower, the Channel Islands were high ground on the plain connecting the European Continent and southern England.


The most significant islands in the group are:

  • Maîtresse Île / Maîtr' Île
  • Les Maisons

Others include:

  • Le Niêsant
  • Les Faucheurs
  • La Haute Grune


The Minquiers are designated protected under the Ramsar convention.[7]


In 933 AD, the Duchy of Normandy annexed the islets, along with the other Channel Islands and the Cotentin Peninsula. After William, Duke of Normandy conquered England in 1066, the islands remained united to the Duchy until Philip Augustus conquered mainland Normandy in 1204. In 1259 Henry III did homage to the French king for the Channel Islands. Edward III, in the 1360 Treaty of Brétigny, waived his claims to the crown of France and to Normandy, but reserved various other territories to England, including the Channel Islands.[8]

By 1911, the 1911 Britannica recorded that Maîtresse Île "affords a landing and shelter for fishermen."

During World War Two, a small company of Wehrmacht soldiers on the Minquiers were among the last to surrender in the Second World War. A French fishing boat, skippered by Lucian Marie, approached the island of Minquiers and anchored nearby. A fully armed German soldier approached and asked for help saying "We've been forgotten by the British, perhaps no one on Jersey told them we were here, I want you to take us over to England, we want to surrender". This was on 23 May 1945, three weeks after the war in Europe ended.[9]

In July 1970, the former French Prime Minister Félix Gaillard, who served in that office from 1957 until 1958, disappeared during a yachting journey; his body was found in the sea off Les Minquiers some days after his disappearance.

In August 2018, one of the twenty buildings on the islands was sold to private individuals using a Jersey company. Only five sales have been recorded in 50 years.[10]

Resolution of status

In 1950, Britain and France went to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for friendly discussions to decide to which country the Minquiers and Ecrehos belonged.[2] The French fished in the waters, but Jersey exercised various administrative rights. The ICJ considered the historical evidence, and in its judgment of 17 November 1953 awarded the islands to Jersey (as represented by the United Kingdom).[8]

In 1998, some French 'invaded' the Minquiers on behalf of the 'King of Patagonia' in 'retaliation' for the British occupation of the Falkland Islands.[2][11] The Union Jack was restored the next day.[12]

In literature

The Minquiers are mentioned at length by Victor Hugo in his novel Toilers of the Sea. He mentions how treacherous they are, and says that their combined area is bigger than mainland Jersey itself. Hugo lived in both Guernsey and Jersey at various points in his life, and so was familiar with local lore.

The British-French dispute over Les Minquiers is a plot element in Nancy Mitford's novel Don't Tell Alfred, as an occasional cause for dispute between the 'two old ladies' - France and Britain.

The Minquiers feature in the seafaring adventure novel The Wreck of the Mary Deare, by Hammond Innes, and its 1959 film adaptation.

See also



  1. ^ "Les Minquiers, Jersey". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Archived from the original on 26 October 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Les Minquiers (GH): 2007". Cambridge University Wireless Society. 2007. Archived from the original on 2018-04-18. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  3. ^ "Christian Fleury, Henry Johnson: The Minquiers and Écréhous in spatial context: contemporary issues and cross perspectives on border islands, reefs and rocks. In: Island Studies Journal, Vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 163 – 180, Nov. 2015" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-01-30. Retrieved 2022-03-01.
  4. ^ "Jersey Birds". web page. www.jerseybirds.co.uk. 2010. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  5. ^ "MJ0X/GB0LMI activity". Archived from the original on 2018-10-26. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
  6. ^ Coysh, Victor (1985). Channel Islets: The Lesser Channel Islands. Guernsey Press Co Ltd. ISBN 0902550128.
  7. ^ "Les Minquiers, Jersey". Ramsar. Archived from the original on 2016-02-03. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  8. ^ a b * Minquiers and Ecrehos (France/United Kingdom) – Summary of the Summary of the Judgment of 17 November 1953 Archived 30 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine, International Court of Justice
  9. ^ Whiting, Charles (1973). The end of the war; Europe: April 15-May 23, 1945. New York: Stein and Day. p. 168. ISBN 0-8128-1605-6. OCLC 810423.
  10. ^ "Hut on fringe of British Isles sold". BBC News. 2018-08-21. Archived from the original on 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  11. ^ Bicudo de Castro, Vicente; Fleury, Christian; Johnson, Henry (2023). "Micronational claims and sovereignty in the Minquiers and Écréhous". Small States & Territories. 6 (1): 35–48.
  12. ^ "Husband and wife interrupt day trip to reconquer Channel isle for Britain". The Independent. 1 September 1998. Archived from the original on 2022-05-15. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  • Files on the ICJ case can be found in the National Archives, mostly in the FO 371 sequence.
  • Les Minquiers: article published in hidden europe magazine, 2006, Issue 6, pp. 38–39 (ISSN 1860-6318)
  • Histoire des Minquiers et des Ecréhous. Robert Sinsoilliez. Editions l'Ancre de Marine.
  • Channel Islets - Victor Coysh

External links

  • International Court of Justice: Case files
  • (in French), Accord commercial sur la pêche entre la France et Jersey
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