After centuries of bickering and the odd war, the far-flung island of Corsica is now very much a French part of the world, and lives and breathes the garlicky redolence of its motherland in a most telling way. Though that’s not to say the Italian influence has been completely removed. Far from it, in fact. And that’s what makes Corsica so utterly unique- there is simply no other meshing of French and Italian culture, of both the artistic and gastronomical varieties, quite like there is here.
There’s a certain grab-factor about the place that you don’t often get with other Mediterranean islands. It abounds with stunning mountainous landscapes, crystal-clear waterfronts, ancient, archeological sites and there are enough hiking/biking trails to make even the most intrepid of travellers’ knees wobble. So it’s really no wonder Corsica has begun to draw in the masses in recent years. But all of these incredible things to do make for a wildly escalating to-do list, so if you’re planning a weeklong trip to France’s best-kept secret then read on.
It’s important not to rush Corsica, so spend the first day of your trip getting to know your local area. There are three main ports on the island: Ajaccio, Bonafacio and Porto Vecchio. All three have an array of trendy bars, boutiques and excellent restaurants serving traditional Corsican gastronomy for you to savor, though Bonafacio is perhaps better for the more idyllic and quiet setting.
Ajaccio, the island’s capital, is worth devoting at least two days to. The unique blend of French and Italian arts and cultures is best-showcased here- particularly in the port town’s cathedral and Palais Fesch Muesum. You’ll go Kodak mad on all the brightly painted fishing boats lining the marina too.
While Ajaccio may be the actual capital, Porto Vecchio is the undisputed party capital of Corsica. Though it’s old town bustles with tourists during the day, this is the only place to be come nightfall. Grab yourself a Mojito (or several) and get stuck in! Partying on islands is inherently more fun than elsewhere. Fact.
Day-trips or afternoon excursions are plentiful across the entire island; the Calanche cliffs deservedly has its own UNESCO World Heritage Site stamp- the combined views of martian-red rocks fronting the blue sea backdrop are incredible, and can be seen up close via one of the many affordable boat tours departing the island on a daily basis.
If you’re up to the task, you might want to spend a day ambling along the Route De Bavella, famed for its breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping biking trails. Or you may want to check out what is considered to be the most remarkable belvedere of the island, Calvi Citadel, or other adventure-packed areas such as Gorges de Restonica (where you can find year-round icy lagoons to cool you down). Of course, driving is allowed, but you’ll feel all the more rewarded for your efforts if you hoof your way up there. Just don’t go doing it in flip-flops.
If adventure, walking, or vista-hunting isn’t your thing, then don’t get your money belt in a twist; there’s plenty more to do. I often find that an excellent way of soaking up some local culture in both the metaphorical and physical sense is to partake in a spot of oh-so-refined wine tasting. Fortunately, Corsica is teeming with vineyards and produces some of the best French wines on the market. Tours are generally high-priced at about €30 a head but the wine is reputedly worth stretching the purse strings for.
Alternatively, you may wish to laze away your afternoons on one of the numerous white, sandy beaches the island has to offer its weary visitors. And why not? You’d be hard pressed to find better beaches in the Mediterranean; and especially ones which offer beach-bums the chance to go snorkeling, windsurfing, kite surfing or even scuba diving. Take your pick!
No weeks’ holiday in Corsica would be complete without a healthy dose of pensive sunset watching from the rocky perches of The Levezzi Islands or Sangrienta Islands. You could save this for the grand finale, though the skies in this part of the world are said to be that captivating that it may well become part of your daily routine whilst on the island.
However you choose to spend you holiday in Corsica, accommodation shouldn’t be compromised; the last thing you want is for your soothing and restorative experiences to be spoilt by a 24/7 party hostel keeping you up all night. Corisca villa rentals are great, and are certainly the best way to go on an island equally as luxurious as this one.
Think of it as ‘the French Falklands’- except their Falklands is a lot prettier and warmer than ours, and people actually go there.