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A taste of Corsica

linkeditor wrote:


Now that my husband needs two sticks to get around we decided that this was possibly our last chance to get to Corsica.

Having made a number of visits to Corsica I can understand the urge to go there and it was only a few weeks ago I wrote regarding a new airline service…


The majority of our visits have centred on Ajaccio, a fascinating town that one rarely tires of visiting though I have to admit I have never considered a train ride from it.

Another delightful spot is the 17th century village commune at Cargèse…

…some two hours drive from Ajaccio.

Probably the most fascinating place my wife and I visited on Corsica was Bonifacio…

Thanks again for your review. Always good to see detailed reviews on the Forum.

@yorkshirecat wrote:

review I wrote a few years ago

Nice review, I enjoyed that. Had to chuckle at “has details of self-drive wine tasting routes”. Of course they could have a designated driver but always seems to me to be tempting fate :-)

Essex UK

I enjoyed reading your experiences in Corsica linkeditor. I spent a week in Corsica a few yeasr ago and had planned to travel on the ‘shaky train’ with my disabled husband but ran out of time. When you say it ‘had no seats’ – was that because they were all taken or because th carriage is built without seats?

I have a picture of the train in this review I wrote a few years ago: https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/blog/destination-features-europe-france/days-out-from-the-casa-theodora-in-corsicas-balagne-region

Very interesting review, @linkeditor

Albox, Costa Almeria, Spain

linkeditor wrote:

we saw the harbours, -the Martello towers and the vine cultivation

Aah the Martello Towers. They are really quite fascinating. I encountered my first one in Essex

and then more in Kent.

They were copied from the ones you saw @linkeditor
built at frequent intervals along the East Coast. And now although some have been demolished or abandoned, a number have been converted into living accommodation. The one in Essex is a museum.

I very much enjoyed reading about your experiences, thanks @linkeditor for posting this up. Have you got any pictures of the trip that you could share with us?

Essex UK

So glad you had such a wonderful time. Thanks for telling us all about it.


Now that my husband needs two sticks to get around we decided that this was possibly our last chance to get to Corsica.
We flew from Gatwick to Bastia; this was our base as we intended to use the train a lot
Having calculated many years ago that the driver sees very little of the country if the roads and scenery are “interesting and exciting” we planned to use only public transport and it worked.

In early July the temperatures were 28 – 31C most days. On the east side the clouds came in each afternoon which cooled it a bit but there was no rain while were there.

There are only 2 major rail routes in Corsica although a third one is under construction. Bastia is the terminus of one leg and is also the port of arrival for frequent RoRo ferries from Nice, Toulon and Marseille -so lots to see at the ferry port. The “Vieux Port” is picturesque and with Restaurants along the length of the quay (where small boats are docked) to cater to every style of dining.

Our first trip was by boat along the coast of Cap Corse – our research had told us that we needed to get to Maccinaggio for this but in fact we went from Bastia in a 250 horse power inflatable that took only one hour back from the northernmost tip of Cap Corse. Along the way out taking 3 hours we saw the harbours, -the Martello towers and the vine cultivation, all of which was explained to us – along with a lot of history – by our guide in perfect English. We were also taken to the bird Colony at Finacchiarola where we saw Cormorants. Younger passengers than us took advantage of the opportunity to swim in the turquoise waters at the north end of our voyage.

Next day we discovered that the timetable for the infrequent trains to Calvi and to Ajaccio did not match what we had downloaded from the website – so a day to discover the environs of Bastia and take the road train up to the Citadelle with a walking tour (only for me) of the oldest part of the city.

When we did get the train to Calvi which is on the north east side – more frequented by British visitors – we planned to try out the old Trinighellu (which means the shaky train) that runs from Calvi to L’Isle Rousse. A bit like Wales, as they try to get their own language back, the Corsican people are labelling everywhere in their own language as well as the French imposed upon them. The shaky train is popular because it stops at many small halts leading to quieter beaches than the modern train, had no seats so we were forced to give it up after a few stops.
The scenery in the middle of the island was wonderful and our 2 carriage train wound round the mountains, with big windows to gave wonderful views whilst having the pull down blinds to keep the sun off if needed and of course it was air conditioned.

On the day we took the train to Ajaccio the four hour journey for the scenery was our main purpose and it was stunning. Eventually the train climbed very high near the centre of the island and we could look down on our route whist enjoying very rugged scenery that was constantly changing. We took a taxi to the pedestrianised area of Ajaccio with all the usual attractions for tourists. What surprises the English is how little the Corsicans think of Napoleon and how much more important Pascal Paoli is to them.

We took a bus from Bastia to St Clement and looked back at the sea as it climbed up the mountain behind Bastia, we turned a bend and saw in front of us a much more turquoise sea of the other side of the island. The bus route went through vineyards all offering ‘degustation’, – if we come again we’ll get an earlier bus! St Clement was much hotter at 37c at14.00 so we retired to a shady cafe with fans operating as we sat on the veranda. The waiter invited us to stay after eating until it was time for our return bus and we met a lot of extra kindness in restaurants where people allowed us to sit in odd places that were more accessible to my husband. We have limited French and it was needed from time to time. But sometimes my spoken Italian was more useful.

Our Manager at the Hotel Bonaparte came to talk to us in English every morning and to check if there were any arrangements we needed her to make for us, that was a big help. She introduced us to Cedrat that looks like a big lemon but cannot be eaten raw – they make a delicious jam with it and also a liquor which was what we brought back.
We ate apricots the size of English apples and the largest most succulent nectarines we have ever tasted.

The only disappointment was the fact that they no longer rely on chestnut flour instead of wheat flour for baking; so the only items available were very expensive and were mainly cakes and biscuits. We knew that the Genoese had planted lots of sweet chestnut trees when they conquered but Corsica like other regions can now import all that the rest of France eats. Linkeditor

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