One of the first trips I ever took with my adorable husband was to the French island of Corsica. I have to admit - I might have fallen in love with him right there and then. Corse is a Mediterranean gem that needs to go on your bucket list, and heck why not consider plans for next summer? With my hubby having spent all of his boyhood summers there windsurfing and getting into trouble, I’m lucky enough to get an insider’s tour every time we go. It’s a perfect romantic getaway for couples, summer beach destination for families or glamorous girls week. You can do it on the cheap, camping your way across the island or burning a large hole in your pocket living it up in five-star hotels. Here are our top reasons to go to Corsica:
Endless stretches of white sandy beach? Check. Sparkling turquoise water surrounded by dramatic red cliffs? Check. Nearby spots for kite surfing, diving or sailing? Check. You could spend your entire trip along the South and Southwest coasts just hopping from one stunning beach to the next, or renting a boat and exploring the hidden inlets that are not accessible by road. For the less adventurous, just pick a spot on the sand, jump into the sea when you’re hot and wander over to the obligatory beach shack for a bite when you’re peckish. What could be better than that?
Though the South is known for beach going, a drive to the North part of the island rewards you with spectacular mountain scenery. Your head will spin driving around the winding, cliff-hugging roads that offer the most breath taking views of the valleys and hills below. Just watch out for native Corsican drivers, as “speed limit” and “solid line no passing” don’t seem to have made it into the local vocabulary. Hike the beautiful nature parks, and if you’re especially brave and fit, try doing the trip by bike.
Once ruled by the Greeks and Genoans, the island was briefly independent before the French came a conquerin’ in 1769. Corsica is birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and also claims to have produced Christopher Columbus. With the different Mediterranean influences and all that attacking that went on back then, Corsica is a cultural treasure; explore the ancient sites and watch for the crumbling Genoise towers at all of the extreme points of the island (built to watch for oncoming warships from, well, Genoa. Duh.) Stroll through the old towns of Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio and soak in the cobblestone streets, medieval battlements and centuries-old buildings.
Be prepared to gain a few ‘cuz every meal will be a feast. Local delicacies abound – my favourites include anything with local chestnuts, honey or Brocciu (goat cheese). The abundance of wild boar in the woods make for some delicious stews and charcuterie (French cured and dried sausage). If you’re a seafood fan, try the fish stew with la rouielle (the special sauce), croutons and cheese or just get a gigantic ass fish platter, as pictured above. Don’t forget you’re on vacation in France, so it would be a crime not to complete your meal with a glass of vin local.
Oh the beautiful people! We don’t mean the speedo-clad men packing the beaches every July and August (though there are plenty of those, if that’s your thing); visiting the port towns of Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio is like a trip to the Riviera. Think Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: the dozens docked yachts equals lots of glamorous people milling about, sunbathing and wining and dining. Plant your butt down at a waterside café, order a glass of rosé and just enjoy the show.
Our tip: skip the hordes and astronomical prices in July and August and go in June or September. The weather is still lovely but the island is much less crowded.
See you there next summer!