Country Review & Recommendations: Corsica (France)

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Corte’s Citadel (2017)

Ok, I realize Corsica is not a country of its own and that it is part of France, but seeing as how they’re an island in the Mediterranean, they’re pretty much on their own. Plus, having been “owned” by a bunch of other empires (Genoese, Carthaginians and Romans to name a few), they have an interesting cultural mix which makes them unique and sets them apart from the rest of mainland France. In any case, here is my review and recommendations for the island of Corsica.

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Calvi Citadel (2017)

Came here with my mom in September 2017, where we landed in Bastia and rented a car from Enterprise, which we dropped off in Porto-Vecchio before heading off to Sardinia (no car rental would allow us to take a French car and drop it off in Italy – so we had to get a second rental in Sardinia). Having a car was super useful and definitely a must, as there are many little villages to check out in Corsica, along with beaches and wineries, that it wouldn’t be possible without one. We travelled to: Bastia, Cap Corse, St-Florent, les Agriates (by ferry), Calvi, Sant’Antonino, l’Île Rousse, Corte, Ajaccio, Sartène, Bonifaccio and Porto-Vecchio. We spent a total of 9 days in Corsica, which we found was maybe a bit much – you could definitely do our route in a couple less days. As well, some of the places we visited ended up not being “musts” in my opinion. Oh also in case anyone was wondering, we did not do any of the world famous hikes in Corsica, as: a) I don’t hike, b) my mom is 71 years old and c) did I mention I don’t hike?

My Corsica Recommendations:

7. Making random photo stops along the road

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Palasca (2017)
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Corsica (2017)
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Pigna (2017)
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Corbara (2017)

Corsica is a place that you absolutely need a car to visit, as you have to drive around everywhere. The plus side with this, is that there are so many beautiful spots to stop at along the road, where you can take great photos 🙂

6. Calvi

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Calvi (2017)
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Views from Calvi’s Citadel (2017)
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Me in Calvi (2017)

You’ll begin to see a pattern real soon, but basically, every “big” city in Corsica has a Citadel area (except Ajaccio) which is basically the old part of town that is touristy and worth visiting. Once in Calvi, park in the huge lot by the marina, then make your way past all the seaside restaurants and up into the beginnings of Calvi’s Citadel. Like all other Citadels, Calvi’s is lined with many shops, restaurants and food stands. Keep going further up till you reach the ramparts and the fortified walls of the Citadel, with beautiful huge Medieval buildings sitting at the top. Keep walking up the many staircases till you reach the various platforms and levels of the Citadel. You’ll get great views over the marina and the lower parts of the Citadel from here.

5. Corte

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Corte’s Citadel (2017)
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Views from Corte’s Citadel (2017)

Corte’s Citadel is very different from the others, as the very top part where the castle is located is now part of a museum and there are no shops and restaurants all the way up there. Rather, they are near the base, all around the huge building that comprises the Corsica Museum. Make sure to go all the way in the back to the Belvedere, to get great views of Corte’s Medieval Castle, perched on its rock. Again, there are many little shops, cafés, restaurants and bakeries in the Old Citadel area.

4. Palombaggia

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Palombaggia beach (2017)
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Palombaggia beach (2017)
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Palombaggia beach (2017)

Palombaggia is known as the most popular beach in Corsica. Thankfully, as we were there in mid-September, it wasn’t all that busy. We opted for a beach chair and parasol day at Palombaggia, which ended up costing us 30 euros. These were offered by one of the very few restaurant on the beach, which also served delicious food (see my next post on food in Corsica). Palombaggia is a very beautiful beach, with fine white sand and turquoise and crystal clear waters, but it was very windy (at least it made the sun feel less hot!).

3. Cap Corse (by car)

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Pino (2017)
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Winery in Morsiglia (2017)

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Nonza (2017)
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Church in Nonza (2017)
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Nonza (2017)
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Beach in Nonza (2017)
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Nonza (2017)
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Saint-Florent (2017)

When in Corsica, doing Cap Corse is definitely a must and you must do this by car, or else you will not be able to stop in every little village that you drive by, nor will you be able to make random stops along the road to take beautiful pictures and you definitely will not be able to stop at one of the many wineries along the road. We got a pretty early start that day from Bastia and stopped in the first village of Erbalunga, followed Pietracorbara beach, Macinaggio, Centuri, Nonza and ended things by the beach in Saint-Florent.

2. Bonifaccio

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Port of Bonifacio (2017)
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Port of Bonifacio (2017)
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Bonifacio (2017)
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Bonifacio (2017)
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Views of the Port of Bonifacio from the Citadel (2017)
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Port of Bonifaccio at sunset (2017)

Bonifaccio is kind of different from the rest of the main seaside villages of Corsica, as the port area and the Citadel area are a significant distance away from each other (we took the little tourist trains up and down the Citadel, but by foot, uphill, the walk is probably a good hour or so). The port area was really nice, lined with colourful buildings (just how I like em) and plenty of shops and restaurant. Accommodation options are very limited in Bonifaccio (and expensive) so make sure to book ahead. As for Bonifaccio’s Citadel, it was my favorite one, probably because it was the biggest, but also because it had great views on the sea. You can even do a walk along the cliffside and down to the sea level.

1. Bastia

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Port of Bastia (2017)
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Port of Bastia (2017)
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Citadel of Bastia (2017)
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Views of the Port of Bastia from the Citadel (2017)
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Restaurant in the Citadel of Bastia (2017)
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Port of Bastia at night (2017)
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Port of Bastia at night (2017)

Bastia was by far my favorite town and the one we spent the most time in. I really liked the port area, full of colourful houses, restaurants and boats. Bastia’s Citadel was also really cool, quite tranquil in comparison to other Citadels and offered great views over the port area. I also enjoyed walking around in the narrow streets of the Citadel, checking out the little shops and bars along the way.

*As mentioned, there were quite a few other places we went to, which, in my opinion, you can skip out on. These include: les Agriates (not worth it if you’re in a rush, otherwise go for it), Sant’Antonino (cool to admire from afar but not much to it once you’re at the top and in the village), l’Île Rousse (cute streets near the water full of shops and restaurants but not a must), Ajaccio (unless you really want to see Napoleon’s house), Sartène (ok to miss) and Porto-Vecchio (very small Citadel area at the top and even smaller port area with very limited dining options, good as a base if you want to hit the nearby beaches though).

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Lotu Beach, Les Agriates (2017)
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Lotu Beach, Les Agriates (2017)
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Sant’Antonino (2017)
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Sant’Antonino (2017)
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L’Île Rousse (2017)
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L’Île Rousse (2017)
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Sunset in L’Île Rousse (2017)
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Café Napoléon, Ajaccio (2017)
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Napoleon’s house, Ajaccio (2017)
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Beach near Ajaccio (2017)
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Sartène (2017)

UP NEXT: my foodie adventures and highlights in Corsica!!

*All photos are my own (or taken by someone with my device, or of me)

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