Years ago, my boss suggested that it could be a career limiting move, to stay in Paris longer than the assignment required. Of course, I found this rather disappointing as I had a strong desire to explore Corsica, and felt that a holiday was well deserved. The French, for good reason, call Corsica “l’Ile de Beaute” or Island of Beauty. The island is stunning at every turn with sandy beaches, limestone cliffs, granite mountain peaks and lush agricultural areas. Corsica offers something for every taste, from the “beach lizard” to the “adventure racer” and all the folks in between.
There are two ferry companies offering crossings to the island, SNCM and Corsica Ferries. We booked on Corsica Ferries from Nice to Bastia. Our trip fell between two religious holidays, L’Assomption de Marie and Pentecte, which necessitated booking accommodation in advance, and in our case dictated a clockwise circuit of the island. Bastia is a port city, located at the northern end of the island. The historic old port, citadel and the current Place Saint Nicholas are all worth visiting. Bastia is a working town, which does not radiate natural or architectural beauty.
However, Bastia is the “gateway” city to Cap Corse, the wild and still relatively underpopulated area at the very tip of the island. There is one coastal road on Cap Corse, allowing the traveller to view most of the rugged coastline. There are villages perched in the hills above the coastline; it is worth the drive to a few of these hamlets for some splendid views. In our case, it took all day to drive 100km, in a place that combines the beauty of both Cape Breton (Nova Scotia) and Big Sur (California) on tiny roads with no shoulders and crazy drivers. The tourist office in Bastia is located on Place Saint Nicholas, they are friendly and have some colorful brochures available for visitors. However, they offer limited information on Cap Corse. The Cap Corse information office is located just on the edge of Bastia at Port de Toga. This tiny badly signed office is part of La Communaut de Communes du Cap Corse. They were helpful despite the seemingly inefficient system.
After two nights in Bastia, the next overnight stop was Corte, located in the mountains. Corte’s permanent population is barely 7000, the numbers swell during tourist season, from April to November. Corte was once the island capital for a short period from 1755-69. Unfortunately, it is not a remarkable beauty either, although it is worth walking up to the citadel and taking some photos from the viewing platform. The allure is found outside Corte, in the hills and gorges surrounding the town that form the Corsica Natural Parc. There are numerous hiking options from this point of departure. We were not fortunate to land on favourable hiking weather, however, understand that there is something available for all levels from the G20 for the hearty and fit, to shorter hikes such as the …