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St Helier, Jersey

Le Crapaud

A statue erected in honor of the toadish nickname given to Jersey residents by the French. 

Both friends and bitter rivals since time immemorial, the French and the British have always engaged in a bit of name-calling. You’ll sometimes find the British referring to their continental neighbors as “frogs,” a derogatory term that partially stems from the stereotype that French people dine on frog legs. The French retaliated by calling the residents of Jersey (a United Kingdom territory that lies just off the Brittany coast, where French is used as much as English) “les crapauds,” meaning “toads.”

Rather than croak about their nickname, the people of Jersey take a certain ironic pride in their “crapaud” status, to the extent that the warty toad has been adopted as a symbol for the island’s residents. So proud are the Jersey people of their moniker that the capital of Saint Helier has boasted a public sculpture of the hoary creature since 2004. The work of artist Gordon Young, the crapaud squats proudly atop his nine-foot column in an area previously known for its marshland toads.

But the amicable amphibious association hasn’t always been friendly. According to an island legend, when Saint Samson of Dol arrived on Jersey, he found the people so unwelcoming that he sent all the toads and snakes from nearby Guernsey to their land. Jersey is the only island in the English Channel that has a population of native toads.