In the heart of the Mediterranean lies the French island of Corsica, a jewel known for its splendid beaches and stunning natural beauty. Corsica features contrasting and sensuous scenery, from desert beaches in the north to rugged mountains covering over two-thirds of the island.
Beautiful Nature and Beaches Await
Perhaps the most stunning beaches are in the southern end of the island, including Porto-Vecchio and Palombaggia, renowned for their turquoise water and pristine white sand beaches shaded by umbrella pine trees. With over 200 beaches around the whole island, you’re sure to find something that fits your taste, whether its bustling resorts or deserted beach locales shielded from the tourist bustle.
Corsica is truly a nature lover and hiker’s paradise. One of the best places for an outdoor journey is the Les Calanques de Piana, a protected nature reserve with looming carved rock cliffs and huge columns jutting out of the ocean. Walking along the cliff side allows one to peer at these massive rocks, which often take on fascinating shapes ranging from dinosaurs to dogs. Begin your trailhead in the town of Piana and hike your way to ochre and pink cliffs just in time to watch them glow red in the setting sun.
For a more mountainous experience, lace up your hiking boots and make your way to the Gorges de la Restonica. There one can do a one-day hiking tour from the Restonica Valley towards the Lac de Mélo, a mountain lake at 6,528 feet above sea level, and brimming with fresh lake trout. From there, one can hike further up to the Lac de Capitello, which often features snow at the top even in July. Regardless of the mountain trails you choose, you will be treated to fabulous views of pine and chestnut forests covering approximately 20 percent of the island along with small terra cotta villages dotting the countryside.
Culture and Countryside
Don’t be afraid to rent a car and drive around the island. There are nature sanctuaries featuring protected wildlife, beach coves, offshore isles accessible only by kayak or boat, and rustic villages that offer local Corsican cuisine. Ultimately, if you are in Corsica during the summer, you’ll want to enjoy the warm ocean water by participating in some snorkeling or watersports such as body boarding. The straits of Bonafacio with their especially strong winds are especially popular with wind and kite surfers.
Also consider taking in some of Corsica’s culture. The Fesch Museum lies in Ajaccio, where one can find a wide selection of paintings from Italian masters, including Botticelli and Bellini. The Musee De La Corse is another museum sitting within a remodeled 15th-century citadel filled with art and archaeological exhibits. The Maison Bonaparte is also worth checking out. The birthplace of Napoleon, it now serves as a museum to the Bonaparte family and in-depth information on Napoleon himself.
For a bit of relaxation, consider staying in the quaint town of Calvi, where the Auberge Relais La Signoria, a country inn, sits on a hilltop overlooking a beautiful valley and 13th-Century fortress. From there, one can arrange fishing, boat trips, golf and other activities, or simply spend their day laying on the beach.
Nearly a century ago, the famous painter Henri Matisse remarked that his trip to Corsica inspired his passion for color. No matter who you are, Corsica is sure to inspire passion in you too.