A roadtrip across Corsica, a dream destination! In a few weeks time and after a long countdown we will extensively explore this island for 12 days. Although we planned a combination trip Western Canada/Iceland this year, life unfortunately but also fortunately had other plans. I’ve been curious about Corsica for a while. This island is also called l’Ile de la Beauté, the “Island of Beauty”. That part of France, that doesn’t call itself France. A piece of Italy in France. That part of France, that has its own identity and countless faces.
What initially attracted me were not necessarily the magical beautiful coasts and heavenly beaches that this island owns. What attracted me were the rugged mountains, the imposing rock cliffs and the overwhelmingly beautiful mountain lakes. The untouched nature, the high mountains and the sense of freedom that this type of landscape gives me. Corsica was the best alternative choice after our plans for a second time visit to Western Canada had to be cancelled. I’d like to share our preparations in this article!
- Corsica is the closest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
- In Corsica, the sun shines 300 days a year and it’s always nice weather.
- Corsica is a unique island and even a mini continent with its great diversity of landscapes.
- Corsica is the greenest island in the Mediterranean sea, with almost 3,000 different species of plants and trees.
- In Corsica you will not only find beautiful nature but also a rich culture and history. Corsica is an excellent destination for people who like to be active, explore nature, discover a new culture, relax on beautiful beaches, visit cosy authentic villages, enjoy great food or simply want to explore a particular piece of France.
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, between the Italian island of Sardinia and Liguria on the Italian mainland. It lies 180 km south of mainland France with Nice, 80 km west of Italy and only 12 km from Sardinia. The island is 8680 square kilometers and is the largest island of France and after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus, the largest in the Mediterranean.
Corsica is very mountainous and therefore uncrowded. The two highest points are the Monte Cinto (2706 m) and Monte Rotondo (2622 m). The typical vegetation is the maquis: rugged, herbaceous shrubs. The northeast of the island is a national park. The island is home to many rare plant species.
Tourist attractions in Corsica are the UNESCO heritage nature reserve of Scandola and Calanques de Piana, the Genoese towers and bridges, Col de Bavella and Monte Cinto, the archaeological park Filitosa and the many towns with fortresses and citadels as Ajaccio, Bonifacio, Calvi and Corte. Furthermore, there are world famous hikes such as the GR20 and the Mare e Monti. There are 230 campsites, from very simple to very luxurious with many amenities. Source: Wikipedia
The trip to Corsica and back
As an exception to the rule of planning everything in advance, we now only booked the ferry crossings to North Corsica and from South Corsica. The ferry goes from Italy and from France. We chose France and booked our tickets with Corsica Ferries. We start and end in Toulon because this matched best with our itinerary. In addition to Toulon, the ferries also goes from Nice. We make the crossing to and from Corsica at night so there is no wasted time during the day. You should sleep anyway, and crossing the sea at night gives two additional full days on site.
An alternative to travelling by private car/ferry crossing is flying/car hire. There are several low-cost airlines that offer flights to Corsica (Figari). In this case, however, you can bring less camping gear. Of course overnight stays in hotels or B&Bs is also an option.
We have two days to travel from the Netherlands to Southern France and we will pick a nice spot for a stopover. The same applies for the return journey from the South of France. This enables us to travel at a relaxed pace and this way we can discover two other parts of this amazingly beautiful country. Therefore our roadtrip lasts 16 days.
Although nothing is certain, we have a rough idea of our itinerary. We start in the North of Corsica in Bastia and end our tour in the South of Corsica in Ajaccio. Chances are that it’s going to be an “S” itinerary. The advantage of starting in the north and ending in the south of the island is that we can go in every direction and don’t have to make the standard tour along the coastline. Do not misunderstand me, I’m very curious about the coastline, but what makes my heart beat faster is the center of Corsica. With this itinerary we can easily travel to this area.
What are we going to do?
We are not city people and baking hours on the beach is not for us. What will we do then? Hiking, a lot of hiking. In the mountains, through green forests, to dazzling mountain lakes, along winding rivers and crystal clear natural pools, along azure coast and the most imposing cliffs .. everything the Island of Beauty is known for!
Corsica is also known for the GR20, the most renowned and one of the toughest long distance hikes in Europe. A route of 200 kilometers across the island from Calenzana in the North to Conza in the South. A hike at altitude where you have a continuous view of the sea. As avid hikers, we would love to follow the footsteps of all die-hards who fully completed this hike, by hiking some small parts of this route. We’d also love to plan an adventurous day of canyoning, we really loved this activity previously. We, of course, will enjoy the stunning coastline and beaches, visit charming villages and a boat/snorkel excursion would be nice too.
What’s also very high on my wishlist, is the hike to Lac de Nino. The upper lake is located in a very green landscape and most notable are the water holes and wild horses around the lake.
And what else? I’ll let Corsica surprise me!
How will we travel?
We travel with our own car and take camping gear along. Corsica is a true camping paradise, and rightly so! The island owns 200 campsites. Many campgrounds are idyllic locations along the coast overlooking the sea but in the center of Corsica there are also magnificent locations in the mountains, hidden in the woods and along the most beautiful rivers.
Wild camping is not allowed in Corsica. By applying this rule, the natural areas remain better protected. Furthermore campsites prove difficult or impossible to book in advance for one or two nights so we will select a camping for each destination on site, with of course a number of favorites on our wishlist. This year we bought a new tent. This is the latest variant of Decathlon, the third-person (inflatable) Fresh & Black tent. Fresh as a special ventilation system ensures that it stays cool when it’s hot outside. Black because it’s completely dark when closed, so you won’t experience any daylight anymore early in the morning. Furthermore, this tent is easy to set up and break down: ten minutes are sufficient. Ideal for a road trip! Full of enthusiasm we set up the tent in our garden and we can not wait to go try our temporary home surrounded by Corsican natural beauty!
What inspired me and helped me plan our trip?
The best thing about travelling of course is preparing and anticipating how wonderful this trip will be. I’ve read many forums, (french) blogs and websites for itineraries, sights but also campsites. Some examples of websites where I found a lot of useful information:
Furthermore, I’ve purchased the mini Capitol so that we at least have a minimal map and information about all areas.
I’m looking forward to this roadtrip! Will I lose my heart to Corsica as I did to Canada? The answer follows after our tour. Très bientôt!