One of the best ways to see Corsica, l’Ile de Beauté (The Isle of Beauty) is to ride your bike along its 600km of coastal roads. Every night you can put your tent up in one campsite and leave the following morning for a new destination. Leave early to avoid the midday sun and you’ll have the afternoon to rest by the turquoise sea. Plan more time for the winding and hilly roads on the Western coast. It can be done in two to three weeks at an easy pace.
The 24km coastline between Calvi and Ile-Rousse is full of wonders. It boasts stunning views of fine sandy beaches and turquoise blue sea on one side and of small villages nesting in the mountains on the other side.
Try the Corsican specialities served in most restaurants and enjoy the delicious ice cream while watching Corsican men play the “petanque” (Paoli Square, Ile-Rousse). Visit the Citadel (Calvi), cycle up the nearby mountains or simply relax on the heavenly Bodri beach. Sea, sun and fun guaranteed.
Corsican wine is rarely encountered outside of Corsica, and when you do it's prohibitively expensive. The Corsicans are an insular lot, and tend to only make enough wine to serve local needs - a little is exported to France and an even smaller amount worldwide. Yet Corsica has the most incredible climate, perfect for wine production. So in itself, the opportunity to sample some of the products of the many small domains is interesting.
Add to this the dramatic Corsican landscape, a temperature which rarely dips below 25 degrees before the winter properly kicks in and the miles of unspoiled beaches where your only companions are a few wandering cows (nice brown and white ones with horns, not fellow tourists) and you've got a very pleasant adventure indeed.
Camping makes the whole thing affordable. Many camp sites have their own beaches for a quick dip before bed. They are littered along the main road that winds its way around Cap Corse and few cost more than 15 euro for the night for a couple with a tent.
There are signs along the roads advertising the different domains - the only choice you face is which one you fancy stopping off at and how much to buy (most don't take cards so you'll need to load up on cash). Each is very different, ranging from the very commercial to the ones where you ring a little bell and someone eventually saunters out and offers you some homegrown olives to go with your taster. An incredible range of wines is produced and every single place will have some unusual speciality to share with you alongside their big earners.
It's all so wonderfully relaxed: plenty of swimming in the remarkably clear sea, a little sunbathing perhaps, lunch from the excellent local market and an afternoon meandering between the domains discovering all of the wonderful wines that the Corsicans are smart enough to keep to themselves. It also makes great economic sense - even buying the wines in a Corsican supermarket will cost you upwards of 40% more than buying direct. Buying them outside Corsica becomes astronomical. At the domains you can expect to pay between 5 and 15 euro a bottle and end up with something really very special to take home with you.
Fly into Bastia (Easyjet flies on a Sunday), hire a car and set off North!
Beach bar and restaurant. It's the best place to eat around the village. There is the wide variety of stuff you'd expect in a beach bar; pizza, salads, sandwiches, etc but also much more sophisticated and imaginative dishes, including lovely desserts which were hard to come by in this neck of the woods. It's also the best place to sit and watch the sun go down.
Half way down Aregno Plage, short walk from Algajola Village (dark on the way back at night but OK)
This was where the film The Longest Day was shot. It's the best beach on the island, a gently curving kilometre of white sand and turquoise sea backed by the wild Désert des Agriates.
It's inaccessible by road; take a boat from St Florent to the Plage de Loto, then it's an hour's walk from there, but worth the effort.
In the Golfe de Porto near the amazing Calanches rock formations - wide, open, golden sandy beach, with beautiful views over the mountains. Like most beaches in Corsica, you'll have it almost entirely to yourself if you go out of peak season.
A stunning white sandy beach with clear water in the Désert des Agriates, 15km from St Florent at the bottom of the Cap Corse peninsula.
It's only accessible by foot, 4WD or boat from St Florent. You can walk it in about four hours but make sure you take food and drink as you're a long way from the nearest shop!
You can walk onto Plage du Loto as well, which is equally as spectacular.
If you're in Calvi or Ile Rousse on the west coast you can't miss the rickety old train running between the two towns.
You don't see trains like this very often anymore. Noisy as hell, sweltering hot in the summer but the views are stunning as you rattle along the coast with all doors and windows open.
It's basically a Beach Transporter. Helping you get out of the two towns to find lesser populated beaches along the coast.
8 euros for the return trip. Cheaper if you hop off at a beach. Pay at the station or on the train. Calvi to Ile Rousse takes about 45 minutes.
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