Southeast of the French mainland in the Mediterranean Sea is the beautiful island of Corsica. Officially, it is classed as a territorial collectivity, and has been since conquered by France in 1769. Before that, it had been ruled various other countries as well as being independent at several points throughout history.
It has a lot of Italian influence, it’s just north of Sardinia, and there’s a lot of evidence of Italian culture, including the language. It has its own dialect, which is officially recognised by the French Government, and some variants are fairly similar to Italian.
It’s also where Napoleon was born. Today, his ancestral home, Maison Bonaparte is now a museum on the island.
It’s a mountainous island, with wonderful clifftop towns, luscious beaches and stunning scenery. There is so much to enjoy, the stunning clear waters are perfect for divers, plenty of trails for hikers, and old citadels steeped in years of history, not to mention the people watching and food and drink on offer. It’s very Mediterranean in feel, with palm trees and the sun, cafés and bars full of fashionable holidaymakers.
Yet there’s forests too, an abundance of wildlife and hidden villages amongst the mountains. It’s so diverse, stunning, really a jewel in France’s crown.
What should visitors look out for, when holidaying in Corsica?
The capital Ajaccio is where Napoleon was born, so let’s start there. This town is by the seaside, but with snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Visit the Museum dedicated to Napoleon, the Place de Gaulle, with an equestrian statue of Napoleon, the Gallery at the Palais Fesch and once you have had your fill, then wander the old town and visit the 16th Century Cathedral of Notre-Dame de la Miséricorde.
Bonifacio is a fortified town dating back to the 9th Century located on a limestone cliff. It’s very picturesque and easy to see why it should be on the list of things to visit! There are a number of churches which are well worth a visit, including the Eglise Sainte-Marie-Majeure. From Bonifacio, you can also take a ferry to Sardinia, which is just 11km away. Near here is also Corsica’s largest nature reserve, The Bouches de Bonifacio.
If you want to get back to basics, then the Gulf of Porto is a must. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this protected nature reserve is stunning. From the seaside town of Porto, you can drive through to the village of Piana, through the Calanques de Piana, which are amazing red granite cliffs.
The Scandola Nature Reserve is also one to visit, but it can only be accessed by boat as it’s so remote. If you want to dive or snorkel, there are some amazing marine life to see here, in the crystal clear waters and hidden coves.
Bastia is Corsica’s principal port, and is very picturesque with narrow winding streets. Sights to see here are the Citadel, Baroque Churches and the Main Square.
We have a wonderful walking tour, it’s fairly challenging, our most difficult grade. We follow an ancient mule track which takes you through mountain villages right to the coast.
The route starts in the capital and throughout the week winds through valleys and cliffs, visiting sights along the way such as Evisa, otherwise called the Pearl of the Mountains and the famous Spelunca Gorge.
Corsica is truly a spectacular place to visit, and still feels as though it’s untouched.