of several easy Calanches de Piana red rock trails, the Sentier
Corsica Beaches | France Pictures | Corsica
Pictures | Corsica Map
highs and lows:
High and mighty rock landscapes, long and short hikes, big and little
beaches, boating, pre-historic sites, outdoor activities in general.
The road network, climate and local cuisine are excellent, people
and costs fine.
Style free, concrete friendly new urban development; neglected old
and historic buildings. Ajaccio, yuk! Porto Vecchio and outskirts
of Corte, Ile Rousse, Calvi, demi-yuk. Where have all town planners
gone? Gone to live in Monaco, every one.
Corsica is a small and rugged island
four hours by ferry southeast of Nice in southern France. It's about
160 kms/100miles long and 80kms/50miles at its widest.
The birthplace of Napoleon and still French territory in spite of
local demands for independence, Corsica is a popular holiday target
not only for French travellers but also European tourists in search
of a mild climate, warm seas, piles of fine sandy beaches and dramatic
hiking trails through an unspoilt and picturesque landscape of mountainous
red and grey granite outcrops separated by huge swathes of pines and
(other than swimming):
love the multitude of magnificent tough, ridged granite heights; kayakers
love the warm, azure seas and protected coves; boat
people - be they yachtees, windsurfers or powerbores love the
plentiful marinas (especially beautiful Bonifacio) rocky coastline
and proximity to Sardinia; canyoneers
love the 1km deep gorge of Spelunca; archeologists
love the ancient menhirs (carved, standing stones) scattered around,
especially well-organised Filitosa; hikers,
well, they're happiest of all with hundreds of stunning and well marked
walking routes, from short but perfectly formed trails through the
red rocks of Calanches de Piana to the gorge walks around Porto and
Corte and the challenging 170 km (100 miles), cross-island Grand Randonée
And there's still plenty of space for paragliders,
golfers and even skiers.
Corsican towns? The plague of style-less concrete decorated with plastic
sign boards is spreading as French cementism dominates old residential
buildings that are collapsing from lack of attention and tormented
by vehicle overdose. Urban blight is expanding - throughout France,
not just Corsica - as town planners permit totally inappropriate new
construction and ignore the demands of vernacular architecture. Or
are they just out to lunch?
of the traditional and unspoilt Corsican towns near Filitosa, west
A mini-guide to some of Corsica's sights
**Cap Corse, the
island's 40km long, 15km wide northern peninsula, easily accessed
via Bastia or St Florent, is a little-developed region of ruined Genoese
towers and windmills, ancient fishing villages, flamboyant mansions
built by affluent emigres (known as Les Américains),
panoramic hiking trails along the 1,000m high mountain Serra
ridge, isolated beaches, and nature reserves (particularly brilliant
for birdlife in the spring). The little old port of Erbalunga
is especially attractive and cultured with an evocative Good Friday
religious procession and many cultural events during the summer.
Activities available in the Cap Corse include climbing, walking, fishing,
biking, canoeing, scuba diving, riding and paragliding.
*St-Florent, at the base of Cap Corse's
peninsula is yet another old Genoese fortified port with a new and
popular marina, a reasonable town beach, a relaxed ambience and a
couple of fine buildings - no prizes for guessing they are a citadel
and a church.
The adjacent, barren Desert des Agriates offers little except
desert flora and wild boar, though two of the beaches are among Corsica's
best. However, getting to Saleccia and Loto beaches will
involve either several hours walk from St-Florent, a good 4 WD vehicle
or catching a summer season ferry from St Florent's marina.
Corsica's second port after Ajaccio, is bigger, more commercial and
more interesting than its visitor-oriented neighbours, but has less immediate access to good beaches or walks, though the superb Plage de Saleccia is not
far to the west by 4WD while Cap Corse's attractions to the north
are within easy reach.
Rousse centre-north tourist port has a calm though undistinguished
air, a good home beach and easy access to some other excellent beaches.
little north-west port town is home to a lengthy and seductively curving beach with a sweeping view of the
Genoese citadel, a fine marina, a cheerful old town and plenty of
tourist restaurants to handle the summer invasion.
is the least accessible tourist town in Corsica but offers a lot -
a beautiful mountain and sea shore setting, a fair beach, a cluster
of good restaurants, boat trips to the Marine Nature Reserve of
Scandola, drives and fantastic hikes and other activities around
de Piana, Gorges de Spelunca and the Aitone Forest.
Corsica's capital and Napoléon's birthplace, once an elegant
white city with a terrific climate is now a flabby mass of cheap cement
engulfed by smoking steel boxes. Nul points. We are informed that
the city council is considering changing the name to Ajacculate.
***Filitosa rules Corsica's ancient sites with a dozen 7,000 year-old standing
stones attractively and naturally arranged. This superb collection
of pre-historic menhirs with carved faces and other relics
from that era is little more than an hour or two between Ajaccio and
menhir in the very ancient site of Filitosa, south of Ajaccio.
almost dead centre of the island is a perfectly situated, easy to
reach and pleasant base for some amazing hiking
trails, both long and short, though it's hardly fascinating as
a town and the urban plague is spreading...Other activities on offer
in Corte (in season) include canyoning, abseiling, zip-wire slides
***Bonifacio is the most interesting sizeable town on the island and one that has
managed to hang onto its ancient character by force of its geological
situation. On Corsica's far southeast tip Bonifacio is a sheltered
port protected by an haute-ville, a fortified town perched
on high chalk cliffs and otherwise surrounded by stupendously impregnable
On the downside the bas-ville is pricey, parking a hassle and that's
where tourist hotels cluster. However, a nearby car park will take
care of the motor while a stride up the steps and inside the (haute-ville)
citadel will present hungry souls with excellent eating and drinking
options in stylish surroundings.
Bonifacio is probably at a premium as a sailing base, with plenty
of yacht rentals, gorgeous endless coves and white beaches in the
vicinity, while Italy's Sardinia is only a couple of hours away.
Head north from Bonifacio by car and various great beaches are reachable
off to the right, ranging from newly roadworthy Rondinara
beach to Santa Giulia's easy-entry and low-development crescent
beach to Palombaggia's
spaghetti of access roads and delightful but fenced strand of over-populated
sand backed by majestic pine forest.
with a renowned harbour and ideally located near some fantastic beaches
- such as Palombaggia
- has been deformed into a random mess of mangled dreams. However,
it is a good start/finish point for some incredible hiking trails
such as the GR20
a Mare Sud.
flat east coast is otherwise mostly excellent for its endless beaches
and accelerating hard for a couple of hours Bonifacio to Bastia or
View Larger Map
Flights are fast and frequent from France but so are ferries, and
ferries do not require small bags and large queues...forget packing,
just throw some stuff into the boot of the car and off you go. Flight
vs Ferry prices are not dissimilar and you will almost certainly want
a car in Corsica so take your own and save on rental. Just don't take
a big car.
see Corsica Beaches Guide | Corsica
Corsica is small and has some fast straight roads, mainly on the east
coast and from Corte north to the ports of Calvi, Ile Rousse and Bastia.
Otherwise tourists tend to find themselves endless wiggling around
spectacular but narrow and nauseating bends.
If you have a choice a smallish car is best as many town, coast and
- most of all - mountain roads can be exceedingly narrow. Anything
bigger than a 5 series BMW would be difficult to manoeuvre in many
situations and positively dangerous in some. Think tight and winding
cliff road, no crash barriers, long rocky drop and borderline deranged
white van man.
Southern Bonifacio to northern Bastia can be completed in less than
three hours, Corte to the coast in less than one hour, though Calvi
down to Porto on serpentine coast roads is a very tense 2.5 hours.
best time to holiday in Corsica is May and September when there
is plenty of sunshine, flowers, less heat and less visitors, though
June, July and August are fine if you like it hot and book ahead.
It's a 40-minute flight from Nice or a few hours by car ferry from
France Beaches | France Travel Guide | France Map