With its coast that alternates fine sandy beach and coves with crystal water, Corsica is as good as tropical islands of the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean. Corsica adds to its seaside assets admirably preserved, a steep hinterland with lovely villages in the heat of the late-autumn, and cities full of charm. Not forgetting the importance of its traditions, the flavour of its local products and generous wines. Let us go with Eluxtravel that offers a route « Bella Corsica from North to South ». We have tested it for you…
Specialist in the tailor-made travel, Eluxtravel offers escapes around the world. From South Africa to Zimbabwe via Costa Rica, Philippines, French Polynesia, Iceland, or Sri Lanka. Destinations offered to discover in many ways according to your wishes. These experiences with Eluxtravel are many new ideas that invite you to know the culture of a country, to go beyond the picture-postcard. With these programmes, the Tour Operator intends to return to the original source of travel and redesign it through the authentic emotion that drives you to travel thousands of kilometres.
Day 1 in Corsica: Calvi
For this approach of Corsica, the travel will be limit to 900km and one hour by plane. Yet, it is a true change of scenery that awaits us when we arrive at Calvi – Sainte-Catherine Airport. Pleasant first impression, our driver waits for us to drive us to La Villa Calvi. The most beautiful hotel of the region is in the uptown, in a cypress and oleanders park.
After putting down our suitcases and having a lunch by the swimming pool we go back in town for a walk with a guide who will tell us the big and little story of this city that was already a main port of the Mediterranean under the Roman Empire. Stroll along the narrow streets and at the port, visit of the Saint-Jean Baptiste cathedral, picture of the front of the Christopher Columbus’ hometown… If the steep streets of the fortress are not easy for the calves, the reward is up to the effort.
During our walk, belvederes invite us to admire the splendid view that lie before our eyes: blue of the sea and mauve of the mountains that meet the clouds. Then, return to the port to board a boat for a private cruise at sunset. A fairy of colours and emotions. First big souvenir of the week.
Where do we sleep? At La Villa Calvi!
On what was once the site of a monastery, Jean-Pierre and Marion Pinelli, the owners, have made the architect Stéphane Maresz build an hotel for them. La Villa Calvi is a house that has a soul, an extraordinary place to which the guests become attached quickly as if it was a family house.
From the balconies, swimming pool, your room, your eyes will be with a non-stop delight on the magnificent performance of the citadel of Calvi in the sun, beyond the maritime pines. The huge park that has Mediterranean style buildings is filled with fragrance.
We like to walk aimlessly in the heat of the afternoon along the paths bordered by cypress trees, myrtle, and oleanders in flower beds, bunches of bushes… Prestigious member of le Relais & Châteaux, la Villa Calvi is a destination itself. A summary of Corsica…
Day 2 in Corsica: Balagne and the Agriates Desert
It is in a comfortable 4×4 that our driver comes and take us for this day across Balagne. The villages of this pretty region are close to the sea and the mountains. Lumio, famous for having the house of Laetitia Casta and a few Parisian celebrities, Monticello where Jacques Dutronc found peacefulness in the middle of the olive trees… but also Speloncata, the village of the caves, Pigna and its stone houses with cerulean blue shutters, Corbara and its baroque church and of course, San Antonio, the highest in the mountains and oldest is a true village built in the mountains overlooking the sea.
After the picnic set up by our guide out in the country, it is on horseback that we offer us to explore the Agriates desert. This huge nature reserve by the water alternates capes and coves bordered by sunny beaches.
Alongside the Genoese towers that are on the coast, they are still pagliaghji, these small dry-stone houses that sheltered once the shepherds. Before coming back, swimming is a must…
Where do we sleep? Another night in La Villa Calvi
Day 3: Let us go to Ajaccio
It is an original route that is awaiting us today as to lead to Ajaccio that is in the South of Calvi we are not going to take the coastal path but walk a long way in the inland of the island through a breath-taking mountains landscape. A route that first make us walk northwards and l’Ile Rousse by walking along the sea, then walk towards the centre of the island to reach Corte.
Before arriving to the historical and cultural capital city of Corsica, we admire a succession of villages in the mountains each one more spectacular than the last, Belgodère, Omessa… At the heart of the regional natural park of Corsica, Corte shows proudly that it is the first capital city of Corsica when it became independent in the 18th century. We admire the houses built on the rock at the foot of the fortress that has behind its fortifications the very interesting museum of Corsica. A little visit is de rigueur if we want to understand the spirit of this island and its inhabitants through their history and their present.
The journey to Ajaccio will continue after a hike in the magnificent Restonica valley. Beautiful natural landscapes that have natural swimming pools where we take pleasure in cooling off while swimming.
Where do we sleep? In the Le Maquis hotel, obviously!
This quiet hotel of the Corsican coast is for a few decades on the gulf of Ajaccio. Before us, the gulf of Ajaccio and the Sanguinaires islands in the sunset. Located in a flowered garden, the Maquis has houses with roofs of rose tiles along a lovely private beach. Green of the hills scented with laurel, rosemary and arbutus, gold of the sand, turquoise of the sea: the hotel is an elegant shelter under the light of the Mediterranean. The perfect place to forget the fast pace of daily life… and going underground, in a way.
Day 4 in Corsica: discover Ajaccio
Today, we forget about the route during a relaxing day to appreciate the charm of the hometown of where we celebrate this year the 250th anniversary. If the visit of his hometown is, of course, on the agenda, we will take the time to walk in the streets of this city where it feels like being in Italie.
But before admiring the houses with colourful façades, to drink a coffee on the terrace, to go to the Fesch museum (especially for its collection of Italian primitives and classics such as Botticelli, Titian or Veronese), it is by boat that is going to take place most of the day. Because the captain of our small boat is come to take us this morning directly on the Maquis beach. This is an opportunity to sail along the coast and stop off in a beautiful cove for a lunch offshore before swimming.
Where do we sleep? Another night in le Maquis hotel
Day 5 in Corsica: through mountains and villages
The distances are never very long in Corsica, but here, it is about hours not kilometres. There is exactly 140 km between Ajaccio and Porto Vecchio, we will take the time to appreciate the splendid landscape that we can see. It is all the easier when the concentration needed to drive is delegated to our driver…The road that zigzags between the mountains crosses a succession of towns each one more picturesque than the last. Villages such as Grossetto-Prugno (that has the asset to be surrounded by mountains and to have access to the sea thanks to Porticcio located at…35km), Casalabriva and its church Saint-Michel at the centre that overlooks maquis covered of green oaks and sweet chestnut trees, Sollacaro, Olmeto, Sartène that shows proudly that it is subprefecture…It is the opportunity to stop off at a terrace in the shade of the plane trees to eat these famous local specialities. Good news, our hotel, the Casadelmar is ideally located by the beach in front of the port of Porto Vecchio. It has especially a magnificent swimming pool where we will quietly finish this day, a cocktail in the hand … A mojito or a daikiri?
Good news, our hotel, the Casa Del Mar is ideally situated by the sea, opposite to the port of Porto-Vecchio. It furthermore possesses an amazing pool where we will peacefully end this day, cocktail in hand…
Where do we sleep? In the hotel Casadelmar
Along the road of Palombaggia this hotel from the sixties was completely reinvented by Jean-François Marchellesi who had the good idea to make it covered with red cedar, making it a marvel of seaside design. Luxurious holiday, the Casadelmar is also the best restaurant of the region where we eat the Mediterranean flavours at the twice Michelin-starred restaurant of the Italian chef Fabio Bragagnolo. Really design, the decoration of this hotel is refined in the rooms that have their big patio doors towards the blue of the sea.
In the shared areas of the new works of art are next to chaise longue signed Frigerio, ceiling lights of Baccarat, tapestry of Charles Joufre and lamps of the Japanese artist Rae Yagura. Respecting the principles of Feng Shui, the spa recently renovated received the brand ESPA.
For a few years, the Casadelmar has been expanded with Casadelmar beach. A lovely small place of seaside elegance in the peninsula of Benedettu, on the other side of the bay of Porto Vecchio. Stone and wood, floor in crushed marble like a beach mat, light colours, modern furniture (Diz armchairs signed Sergio Rodrigues, Tom Dixon tables in marble from Rajasthan, Ozone lamps…). Therefore, the customers of the Casadelmar can take advantage of the assets of the two establishments thanks to the shuttle that links them in 5 minutes.
Day 6 in Corsica: Porto Vecchio and the Lavezzi islands
Spread in the turquoise sea of the Mediterranean, in front of the Strait of Bonifacio, the Lavezzi islands look like small parts of Eden. For the past 40 years, this archipelago, the southernmost in France, is a nature reserve and its islands are accessible only by boat. These twenty or so granite islands and islets are uninhabited except the Cavallo island, a few minutes away from the coast, on the east of the Cape Sperone. A « private » island at first glance is mainly inhabited by a lovely hotel complex (l’hôtel des Pêcheurs) and by Happy Few properties that came here for the sun… and anonymity. Thanks to the small boat especially chartered for us, the day will be an absolute delight. Eco-friendly navigation on a crystal sea by going around the rocks that come up to the boat a bit everywhere and involve a very careful piloting. The boat that can sail anywhere offers us a few unforgettable snorkelling lessons in a marine environment worthy of an aquarium.
The late autumn is the best period to appreciate Porto Vecchio. If it still welcomes the tourists attracted to its Mediterranean lifestyle, the city has streets clearly less crowded. It is the perfect moment to spend an evening at the terrace of a restaurant. We do not refrain us, and we take our time to enjoy…
Day 7 in Corsica: Bonifacio
It is again by boat that we leave the Casadelmar for this last day in Corsica. Direction Bonifacio. The short cruise goes by the splendid Sperone bay and goes along the impressive Bonifacio cliffs. From the sea we distinguish the houses that surround this fortification with a sparkling whiteness. The walk in the city will be according to our wishes and laziness. After going up the 187 steps of the King Aragon’s stairs-built cliff-side, we deserve a little rest.
This will be our first stop at the terrace of a coffee… but not the last. This is hard to resist the charm of Bonifacio whose narrow streets seem to get lost between shadow and light in the middle of the tall houses with white façades. The game is exactly to wander aimlessly in the sort of cobbled labyrinth that is offered to us… The return by boat will be an excellent excuse to stop for a last sunbathing and sea bathing on one of the marvellous beaches that are along our route.
HIKES FOR ALL LEVELS
Before daring to walking the GR20 that crosses Corsica from North to South, a minimum of training is required. Basically, this two-week « stroll » is not accessible to everyone. Especially E Cascettoni…
For the stroll’s enthusiasts, we will advise Haute-Corse and le sentier du douanier that goes along the coast to the end of the peninsula, between Macinaggio and Centuri. The three parts of this marked route can be travelled in around 8 hours. They will take you to Capandula with its preserved beaches by the Conservatoire du Littoral: Taramone, Cala Genovese… Offshore, the Finocchiarola islands forbidden to the public between March and September, have a seagull’s colony extremely protected. The visit of Cap Corse ends in Saint-Florent hidden away in a beautiful bay surrounded by the mountains of Nebbio. Before leaving this lovely seaside town, go to San Michele church near the village of Murato. From this headland, the view goes beyond the gulf of Saint Florent, to Agriates desert, a site with an exceptional beauty that has a drought of a maquis emphasized by the heat with natural beaches.
Information: www.eluxtravel.com – 01 76 24 24 40
Discover the Oris’ Ocean project to preserve the oceans and seas through partnerships with pioneer and innovative associations.