The beautifully rugged and unspoilt Mediterranean island of Corsica is a fabulous summer holiday destination for all ages. With mountainous terrain, pretty little towns and more than 200 beaches there is something for everyone to enjoy. Here is our round-up of the islands hotspots this June just before it is plunged into the spotlight as the starting point for this years Tour de France.
Ajaccio on the west coast of the Island is the capital and the birthplace of the islands’ most famous son Napoleon Bonaparte. With its pretty pastel shaded narrow streets, gracious squares and abundance of cafe’s and chic shops it’s a pleasure to wander around. The main shopping areas of Cours Napoleon and Rue de Cardinal Fesch where you can buy amongst other things products made from the islands chief export – almonds, including the deliciously sweet nougat. The old town with its citadel and central square Place Foch is a must see. The best beaches in the Ajaccio area are the sheltered coves in Portigliolo and Ruppione where you will find very few people to spoil the view.The presence of Napoleon is subtly woven throughout Ajaccio and you can visit the memorial and grotto of Napoleon at Place Austerlitz at the top of Cours General LeClerc where Bonaparte is supposed to have played as a boy. Visitors can also wander in hushed reverence through his home at the Maison Bonaparte where he spent his first 9 years.
- Where: 18 Rue Saint-Charles
- Cost: Adults €5; Concessions €3.50
- Open: 9-11:30am (except Mondays) and 2-5:30pm
Calvi is the most sophisticated and beautiful resort on the island, with its 5 mile stretch of sand nestling below the all year snowy peaks of Monte Cinto, attracting the yacht set from mainland Nice and Cannes. The citadel standing over the harbour is a stunning sight and the mountainous region surrounding the town offers wild boar, olives, wine and cheeses to tempt the palates of the town an its visitors.The Citadel is a must for every visitor who can manage the climb up the steep cobbled streets to this awe-inspiring 13th century fortress. The walk around the ramparts offers sweeping views across the surrounding beaches and mountains beyond, with stunning seascapes at every turn. Within the ancient walls the Cathedrale St Jean Baptiste sits at the highest point and visitors can hear the Corsican polyphonic singing here in weekly concerts. First time visitors should be sure not to miss the little train that runs along the coast to Ile de Rousse, with fabulous views and stops at the beaches in between.
Perched on steep limestone cliffs at the southernmost point of the island Bonifacio is an ancient town with its origins as early as 833 ad. Just across the strait from Sardinia there is a definite Italianate feel to the town and there is a local dialect to match. The cliffs shelter a natural inlet which supports a bustling harbour surrounded by shops and cafe’s against the white limestone sheer walls. The old town with its narrow streets takes you right back in time. The limestone coast here is peppered with caves and grottoes and you can take a boat trip along the coast to see them. The nearby beaches on San Ciprianu and Palombaggia are said to be the most beautiful and unspoilt in the Mediterranean. Travel inland to the Massif de Bavella and you can enjoy swimming in the natural rock pools and basins filled with sparkling clear water.
Corte is at the foot of some of the highest peaks in Corsica and is in the centre of the Regional Nature park. The town is a great starting point to experience the mountainous interior with its lush forests and tumbling waterfalls. Hiking, climbing, canyoning and paragliding are all available in this exciting region. The Ascu valley to the north of Corte with its stunning green river is a great place to visit and from here climbers can tackle Monte Cinto, the highest peak on the island. The city itself was once the capital of the island and since its university opened in the 1980’s it has retained a lively cosmopolitan atmosphere with streets lines with bars and cafes. The rugged citadel at the highest point has fabulous views over the surrounding mountain scenery. Which ever direction you choose from Corte to walk or drive you will see pine forests, rushing rivers and dramatic granite peaks. Tiny villages may sell local cheese made from the milk of the mountain goats or locally made honey to make your picnic extra special.
- For more information visit visit-corsica.com