This sun-drenched island sits in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and France but it can often feel like it’s worlds away from both of them. Needless to say, you won’t find lush beaches, rugged beauty and tropical climes anywhere in Paris.
Despite the innumerable historical links, the locals shy away from any connection to their somewhat distant neighbors. Many residents speak French but they much prefer Corsican, their more native tongue. While a certain degree of acrimony still simmers between the islanders and their mainland cousins, Corsica hosted the initial stages of the 100th Tour De France in 2013, a first in the infamous race’s history.
Corsica may lack the vibrancy and electricity of Rome but the island more than makes up for this with its distinctive culture, exquisite cuisine and crystal clear waters. Head for its shores if you’re looking for leisurely meals, epic outdoor treks or some good, old fashioned long walks on the beach.
Here are just a few of the places and activities that are located all around Corsica that you may want to check out if you ever find yourself on L’Île de Beauté:
Hotel A Piattatella
Off the beaten path and overlooking the Reginu Valley, this hotel offers luxury accommodations amidst the breathtaking scenery of northern Corsica’s treasured coastline. Take a swim in its infinity-edge pool or enjoy a relaxing Swedish massage in the onsite spa after a rejuvenate breakfast on A Piattatella’s terrace. The hotel can be found just a short stroll from Monticello’s village square and it’s a mere 10 minute drive from the beaches of Balagne. The sands of Ile-Rousse tend to be a favorite among visitors. Its sheltered bay and pink granite archipelago are gorgeous. The beach is also a great spot to watch the sun set over the adjacent town.
Chemin Saint François, 20220 Monticello
The GR 20
If sitting on a beach makes you feel like you’re gathering barnacles and your idea of a relaxing vacation involves stomping up a rocky bluff, then the GR 20 is just for you. This trail is not for beginners, maybe not for intermediates or even the fairly experienced, but it’s widely considered one of the best, and toughest, on the planet. Up there, you’ll find breathtaking views and a rite of passage for European hikers that’s little known beyond the borders of the continent. The “GR” stands for Grande Randonnée (which means “Big Excursion” in French) and that’s definitely an understatement. The entire trail runs 112 miles but, if you’re running short on time and if you’re looking for a real adventure, head for a stretch called the Cirque de la Solitude. This section is so steep that hikers have to cling to chains embedded in a rock wall to prevent themselves from a great fall that would break a thousand Humpty Dumptys.
Additional information about the GR 20 can be found here: http://corsica.forhikers.com/gr20
Le Grand Café Napoléon
Here’s a brasserie in Ajaccio, Corsica’s largest city, that focuses on locally-inspired delights. It will also leave you wondering why its homegrown namesake ever wanted to leave the island. Le Grand Café Napoléon has drawn rave reviews from locals and international travelers for both its exceptional, if petite, menu and elaborate decor. The brasserie’s main dining room is housed inside a former ballroom and, with its intricate arches and floor-to-ceiling mirrors, recalls a more refined era of years gone by. Despite the haute surroundings, Napoléon’s menu selections are far more contemporary and include meat and fish dishes, in addition to a variety of modern French desserts.
10 Cours Napoléon, 20000 Ajaccio
Le Pirate, in Erbalunga (North), has Michelin-starred cuisine a beautiful views of the Med. Enjoy lobster tortellini, hearty fish soup, and grilled John Dory straight off the boat.
ERBALUNGA BRANDO 20222
This open-air hotspot sits on a bluff overlooking the Mediterranean in Porto-Vecchio and is less a cocktail lounge than a cocktail complex. Along with no less than seven bars, Via Notte contains a gigantic swimming pool and more than a few go-go dancers that draw an eclectic mix of European jetsetters and international DJs. While it’s not the sort of place you’d ever want to head if you’re looking for a quiet corner to linger over a martini, the complex is certain to offer an unforgettable experience. Via Notte is only open seasonally but, during the summer months, the music and drinks here flow like a cool sea breeze until well past the break of dawn.
21 Avenue du Général de Boissoudy, 20137 Porto-Vecchio