The island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea might be part of France, but it has a proud identity all of its own…
1. Birthplace of Napoléon
The French Emperor was born in Ajaccio, Corsica’s capital city on the south-west coast, in 1769. Statues and street names provide a constant reminder of his legacy and Bonaparte House – Napoléon’s family home – is now a national museum. Don’t miss the excellent Musée Fesch that houses the paintings amassed by his uncle Joseph Fesch, including
works by Botticelli and Titian.
2. French fusion
Positioned close to France and Italy, both renowned for their gastronomy, Corsican cuisine benefits from their influence. Boar meat, however, is a delicacy enjoyed more exclusively in Corsica, where the animals live wild. On its own, boar is delicious served potted or in the form of saucisson sec. It also makes a good filling for lasagne and ravioli.
3. Take to the water
When the sea is at its warmest between May and October, why not make the most of it? Sailing and sea kayaking, surfing and diving, water skiing and jet skiing are all great ways to spend an entertaining day by the water’s edge in Corsica. Alternatively, take advantage of an organised boat tour and let someone else take the strain.
4. Tale of two cities
Located on the southern most part of the island, Bonifacio is a city in two parts. Vieille Ville is on the harbour side and where most people live and Haute Ville is set within a cliff-top citadel from the 9th Century. A stroll through its narrow streets offers shady squares and some fabulous photo opportunities.
5. Pebbles à la plage
As an island, Corsica has a great many coastal resorts. Whilst some have pebble beaches, others benefit from fine sand. Pine forests provide a welcome backdrop to many of these beaches and are an excellent place to enjoy a picnic. For families, the calm of Marinella beach in the Gulf of Ajaccio comes highly recommended.
6. Get active
Corsica’s mountainous terrain opens up a host of opportunities for those who want to explore the great outdoors no matter what time of the year. Walking, cycling and horse riding trails are attractive ways to enjoy some exercise whilst taking in the spectacular surroundings. There is skiing in winter and for the more adventurous, it’s also a great place for climbing and paragliding.
7. Into the wild
The Regional National Park of Corsica extends across two thirds of the island. Top spots amongst its flora and fauna are: Mediterranean maquis, golden eagles and ospreys. Designated footpaths will take you from coast to coast or across mountains if you prefer. The Scandola Nature Reserve forms part of the park and has been designated a World Heritage Site.
8. A local tipple
Choose one of Corsica’s own locally produced wines to accompany meals incorporating regional produce such as goats’ milk and ewes’ milk cheeses, chestnuts, honey and clementines. Cap Course is a fortified wine and traditional apéritif containing muscat, quinine, orange and aromatic herbs.
9. Prehistoric sites
Filitosa is an area of major archaeological importance in Corsica, where you’ll discover 16 large standing stones or ‘menhirs’ carved with human faces. They are thousands of years old but the reason for their existence is not entirely understood. The on-site museum tells you more about the people who made them.
10. Baroque in Bastia
Despite having lost its original title of capital of Corsica, the city of Bastia remains a very upbeat place to spend some time and its Baroque style churches are particularly worthy of a visit. For many tourists, Bastia is chosen as the starting point for a holiday in Corsica. Its northerly location is ideal for those travelling by ferry from the south of France.