South Corsica, where mountains meet the sea
Bonifacio - At the very top of the slopes of Saint-Roch, a sudden wind catches us and doesn’t abate. The limestone cliffs gleam in the sun. Junipers creep on the ground and, a hundred metres beneath our feet, the turquoise waters are tempting. We feel like we are reeling, perched precariously on these cliffs, a bit like the town of Bonifacio, with its houses and ramparts which stand out against the clear blue sky.
Mother nature is in command of any holiday in Corsica. She is sometimes wise, often wild. Any walk through the citadel’s cool and dark back alleys will take you back to the sea. In the distance, boats pass the lighthouse of Madonnetta. They are setting off to conquer the Strait of Bonifacio. In this immense marine natural park, the quiet, white, sandy beaches nestle between a gigantic chaos of rocks.
For swimming and nature at its kindest, Porto-Vecchio and its beaches are the place to go. Each has its own character. There is Rondinara, a near-perfect bay with its maquis descending towards a huge beach and clear water. Then Santa-Giulia, a slice of the Seychelles with blocks of granite rising out of the sea. It is Palombaggia that is the most dazzling at the end of the day, as the setting sun sets its red rocks aflame.
In Southern Corsica, however, the untamed mountains are never far away. From Porto-Vecchio, a winding road weaves its way towards the peaks of Bavella. After two hours of ascent, the col: a magical place, exceptional… The mountains, battered and broken by the rain, ice and wind, are a snarl of heaped rocks. From this mineral exuberance spring forth peaks of red granite. Two thousand metres high, the summit of Punta di u Furnellu indifferently keeps watch.
At the feet of the mountains, walking paths wind through twisted Corsican pines. It is at these heights that Corsican identity was forged. Traces of the past can be found on the road to Sartène, in the prehistoric sites of Palaggiu, Stantari and Cauria. The anthropomorphic monoliths and dolmens are nestled under trees, sometimes even under brambles. The trail takes us towards the hilltop villages of the Alta Rocca. Here, the origins of Corsican mountain cooking can be found. A cuisine of cold meats and chestnut flour, a world away from a sea that was too often synonymous with invasion.
When to go?
It is in the Autumn, from mid-September to mid-November, that Corsica is at its most beautiful. The island has rediscovered its calm, locals’ lives return to normal. The roads have emptied, as have the beaches and the sea’s temperature still hovers around 20°. The chestnut groves of Castagniccia and Sartenais have donned their most beautiful colours: shades of yellow, orange and brown. The forests resound to the sound of chestnuts falling to the ground, bouncing off branches.
How to get there?
The island is served throughout the year by ferry companies (Corsica Ferries, La Méridionale, Corsica Linea, Moby), sailing from Marseille, Nice, Toulon (France), Genoa, Livorno or Savona (Italy), as well as by several airlines flying from Paris and London.
In the underwater world of the Lavezzi islands
Lift anchor toward the chaos of rocks that is the Lavezzi islands for a dazzling day of diving.
Horseback ride across the scrublands
Guide your horse through the scrubland and to a deserted beach for a horseback bath in the sea.
Uncover the art of making blades
In a fascinating workshop, discover the complexity of the fabrication of Damascus blades.
Dinner in the woods
Take a seat at a farm lost between the Aiguilles de Bavella for a meal purely Corsican.
The "Island of Beauty" seen from above
Fly over the sea and discover another facet of this coast full of dazzling beauty.
Our address book
A Cantina di l'Orriu
With its hams hanging from the roof and its shelves weighed down with jars, the boutique de l‘Orriu has become an institution thanks to the quality of its products. A restaurant completes your introduction to the local cuisine. You just want to try everything… and buy everything!
5 Cours Napoléon, 20137 Porto-Vecchio
Tel. : +33 (0)4 95 70 26 21
The gourmet citadel
Ciccio isn’t a new discovery but the restaurant’s reputation has not been dimmed by the passage of time. Dining on its terrace is as pleasant as ever and the Corsican cuisine, modernised, still seduces.
6 rue Saint Jean-Baptiste, 20169 Bonifacio
Tel. : +33 (0)6 16 98 81 68
Dishes with altitude
Located inside a former schoolhouse, l’Eternisula is an unpretentious establishment with delicious food, perfect for walkers and lovers of good local produce. A no-frills charcuterie platter, hearty salads and pleasing finds such as the chestnut cream tiramisu.
Road to Quenza, 20124 Zonza
Tel. : +33 (0)4 95 27 44 71
Grand Café Napoléon
With its large Second Empire room and its emblem depicting the emperor, le Grand Café Napoléon is the place to drink a coffee whilst listening to the noisy and good-humoured conversation and clamour of the locals.
10 cours Napoléon, 20000 Ajaccio
Tel. : + 33 (0) 4 95 21 42 54
Just a few steps away from Propriano beach, Alta Rocca is a clever mixture of wine bar, tapas bar and live music. We recommend the Alta Rocca cocktail: champagne, cognac and cane sugar.
Closed from November to April.
Marina Viva, 20166 Porticcio
Tel. : +33 (0) 4 95 25 13 87
Music on the waves
The Beach, owned by Julien and Florent Santarelli, is an irresistible temptation from those beautiful summer nights. Tizzano, the little port in the commune of Sartène is worth it. Once you are there, sink your feet into the sand and go with the flow of the music, different every night.
Open mid-June to the end of August.
D48, hamlet of Tizzano, 15 km from Sartène
Tel. : +33 (0)4 95 77 07 25
L’Uomo di Cagna
A fantastical rock
This lovely walk starting from the village of Giannuccio takes us to the heart of the chaos of rocks nestled in the midst of heather and green oaks. All around, strange, twisted rocks capture your imagination. The most astonishing of them is, of course, the head-shaped Uomo di Cagna, which you will spy after just an hour of walking in the maquis.
Starting from the village of Giannuccio
At Yves Canarelli’s, near to Figari, the aromas of wines mix with those of the maquis which surrounds the vines. M. Canarelli made the risky bet of redeveloping and using organic methods to grow Corsican grape varieties. He has since been recognised as one of the best winemakers on the Island of Beauty and his wines pick up numerous distinctions, particularly his intense, refined and powerful reds.
Tarabucetta Village (20114)
Tel. : + 33 (0) 4 95 71 07 55
History in uppercase stones
This prehistoric site is a fortress village dating from the Bronze Age. It impresses with the size of its stones, piled on top of each other to construct the outer wall which protected the first occupants. From here, the views of the Bavella mountains are splendid. The neighbouring site of Capula dates from the Middle Ages. Don’t miss the Alta Rocca museum in Levie, which houses exhibits found during the excavations.
Tel. : +33 (0)4 95 78 48 21