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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Bates

Corsica, the place to be on the Mediterranean

Updated: Feb 17

Back in 2018, Daddy and Kiddo (Danik and Amelie) spent a week on the island of Corsica which is a part of France to have a social media detox amongst other things (well, Daddy needed a social media detox). Anyway, we actually went on a vacation to soak up the sun, sea and sand but also we had a car so we decided to take mini trips to some parts of the island. We were staying in a small area known as Poggio-Mezzana on the north-east coast, about a thirty minutes drive south of Bastia. It's in the middle of nowhere, the town of Santa-Lucia-di-Moriani being the closest with all the essentials like restaurants, bars, food, fuel etc (about five minutes away). Usually when we are on the road, from the moment we wake up we are usually busy with checking out the area, doing touristy stuff, going on tours, checking out the local cuisine because that is what we do best but on this trip, as it was a ‘proper’ vacation, we took our time, relaxed and chilled.

Poggio-Mezzana, Corsica
Beach at Poggio-Mezzana in the north-east of Corsica

The sights, what did we do? Ok, so we were glad to rent a car when we arrived at Bastia airport as our accommodation is in the middle of nowhere and we have to admit, the lack of public transport was crazy. We think we saw about three public buses in the week we were here. There are railway lines but as we looked at the timetables, there were only about four-five trains a day. So if anyone wants to get around the island, hire a car. I know but it sucks.

Bastia airport, Corsica
Our flight on arriving at Bastia airport

However with a car, you are your own person. We were (well, I was, not sure if Amélie was) very surprised about the landscape of the island when we arrived (as we did no research whatsoever!) where the coastal landscapes are mouth-watering but driving inland through the mountains reminded us of the Swiss Alps. We must have stopped numerous times to capture the perfect landscape scenes with our cameras or just to stop, look out, and reflect. There are hardly any cars in the middle of the island (or people, or villages or gas stations!) so when stopping or going for a hike away from the roadside, you will have the place to yourself. Simply perfect.


The following places are where we went to. However we wished we spent more time in the places but as they were short day trips. As we are writing this, we are hoping to come back to this beautiful island soon and you will see why. We didn’t even check out the main city, Ajaccio or see any of Napoleon's historic sites (or birthplace as that crazy small Frenchman who went on a rampage across Euroland comes from here! - quick fact, Corsica was part of the Genoa Empire or whatever way you would like to rephrase that, but Genoa wasn’t part of Italy at this point. Anyway, Genoa gave Corsica to France the year before Napoleon was born, so if this happened a year later, Napoleon would have been Genoan or Italian etc. Would he have gone on a crazy rampage if he wasn’t French?).

Mountains in Corscia
Corsica is known for its beaches, but for me it was the mountains

Corte


The old capital of Corsica lies in the Haute-Corse region of the island and was about an hour’s drive from the village. The drive here is stunning and I think it could have taken us two hours to get there with all the stops.


What I loved about Corte is that the small city with a citadel on top of the hill makes this the ideal location to stay whilst hiking through the nearby valleys and mountains. Corte lies in a national park so this makes the town the ideal location for nature people and the odd-cyclist (those hills, be very wary of some of the uphill climbs).


When approaching Corte (we came in from the east) I noticed the citadel had a dramatic setting because of the surrounding mountains and with the odd low cloud or two in the autumn sunshine. It caught my eye and it’s easy to do so but remember when one is in a car, one needs full attention on the road. Parking is a little bit hard to come by but there is an underground multi-storey car park just off the high street we used and its dirt cheap. Walking around the town there isn’t much to do apart from eat at a restaurant or shop so I walked up to the citadel which is steep in places but only takes about ten-fifteen minutes (there is a road train however but the walk did us good and a good money saver). 


At the top there is the tourist office and a museum dedicated to the island but for us, I carried on walking. I walked up a long slope before walking up a staircase which goes pass a lovely looking restaurant (which I want to check out next time as I am planning to come back here, reason I didn’t stop, we had food in the high street and it wasn’t that great), and then we reached the viewing platform. Oh my god! Sorry, can we say that here, the views from here are outstanding. Not just because of the citadel’s location but the surrounding mountains, the valleys, overlooking the town, we stayed here for quite a while enjoying some of the best views of the island.

Aléria


An hour’s drive from our resort we checked out the small town of Aléria which is known for its roman ruins. However when we came, we went to the beach and ate a nice meal by the sea as the sun went down behind us. However we did check out a winery here just north of the town called Domaine Terra Vecchia, which I thought the wines from this region were outstanding and defo worth a stop for a good wine tasting session. The surroundings of the lakes near the sea and the drive through the vineyards to reach the tasting rooms are a memorable one as well.


Just south of the town is the fort (or castle depending how you see it) at the top of the hill where the building is in good shape but the views from here also, outstanding. Also there is good ice cream being sold here (a little tip).

Bonifacio


One day we did actually do a full day trip and did the two hour drive right to the southern tip of the island. We were on a trip and fell in love with the place straight away. The drive along the coastline was stunning but as soon as we drove into the town, we saw the castle overlooking the harbour, a beautiful seafront with stunning facades and many yachts moored up. We arrived at a good time as we got a car parking space about ten minutes walk from the harbour as it was before lunchtime but during the afternoon, more cars were arriving and departing in despair as there were no spaces.

Bonifacio, Corsica

We did a boat trip first which headed out of the harbour and along the coastline where we saw small beaches, the coastline of the Italian island of Sardinia to the south but what was interesting was the fact the boat was going into inlets in the coastline. There were huge caves with crystal blue water inside which is the highlight of the tour.


Back on land we took a road trip up the hill to check out the views from the castle which is a must before heading back down. We didn’t get the chance to go inside the castle but as we fell in love with the place, we are planning to come back. We noticed there are a few hotels up here as well which we are thinking that they need checking out.

The train ride from L'Île-Rousse to Calvi


After the stunning drive through the mountains and along the northern coastline, we landed up in L'Île-Rousse. The main reason we choose to come here is that there is a train line which goes along the northern coastline to Calvi, about 24km and a forty minute journey each way. We parked next to the station and bought our tickets (about €13 each) however we turned up five minutes before the train departed and it was very crowded. The train only has two carriages and only one of them has around twenty seats. This service is not designed for a lot of tourists who want to see the stunning coastline which has beautiful beaches, crystal blue waters along the way. This service is for those who are staying at resorts along the way who want to get into either town (or for the local commuters to get to work). The carriages inside are hot and stuffy with no air conditioning. However, the views on the way, amazing. Once in Calvi we only had time for lunch and a quick walk around, so you guessed it, we will be coming back here. This part of the island looks truly amazing.

Afterthought


As you can see guys, we really did have a proper vacation. We relaxed and only did some sights as we went along. Sometimes we need trips like these but we were testing out the water here as we had no clue about what to do on the island. The only reason we chose this as a beach vacation at the time of booking was the amazing airfares which were advertised with Air Corsica, an airline which is well runned and we had no problems with them each way. Now we know what to expect from the island, some of the places we want to come back to, we know as soon as we get the chance, we will be back here. Corsica maybe a well traveled destination by European Mainlanders like the Dutch and Germans but for us Brits, it's an upcoming destination. 


Our accommodation: Village Vacances la Vallicella


For the perfect cheap self-catering getaway for families on the island of Corsica, we were delighted to discover the Village Vacances la Vallicella located on the north-eastern coast of the island. We came here and wanted to stay at a really special destination within a small budget. After gaining great valued flights with Air Corscia from London Stansted, we flew into the island’s second largest airport, Bastia. After hiring a car, the drive to the resort took about twenty-five minutes.


Signposted off the T10 before the small town of Poggio-Mezzana, we drove straight to the check in office which is a bit unusual as it is not located at the main entrance. Keep following the road from the main entrance until a car park is reached (where the road ends). The office is found here next to the swimming pool and restaurant (basically the main area of the resort). After receiving a warm welcome and a lot of information about what to do in the area and further afield on the island, it was time to check out the accommodation.


The apartment we rented was classed on their website as ‘Location Appartement VA5’, which was about a five minute walk from the buildings beside the beach. However, it was a quiet end and we didn’t mind the walk in the warm Mediterranean sunshine. After parking the car in a small car park next to the buildings, we entered the building through a nice wooden door. Straight away we were in the main room which has the kitchen area, lounge and dining table and chairs. The kitchen had everything we needed to cook and store as well as a fridge/freezer. The dining area had a television as well but was hardly used on the visit as we were out all the time.


There were two bedrooms in the apartment. Room one had a double bed and wardrobe space, so plenty of luggage storage and in room two had two single beds and again, plenty of storage space. The bathroom next to the front door was clean and spacious with a shower, toilet and sink.


From the dining room, there were patio doors which lead to the patio area. Here there was another table and chairs and this was the area where we eat all the time, breakfast and dinner. It was perfect. Every day was warm and sunny and the sounds of birds everywhere really made our day. (Also a great tip, a local baker comes in their van every morning into the resort and stops in a few places along the road where guests can buy bread, baguettes and cakes which are very well priced and fresh, so in the end we didn’t bother buying this sort of stuff at the local market or supermarket).

At the main part of the resort there is (besides the reception and laundry area), a play park for children (which really kept Amélie entertained) and plenty of green space to run around and go frigging mental. There is a restaurant right beside the beach and the swimming pool area which we used every day. There are plenty of sun loungers and shady areas with overhanging tree branches to one side of the area. We really love how at one end of the pool we could pull up to the side and look out to the beach and the sea. The beach is quite wide, sandy and the sea is warm in the summer months. 


In the area known as Moriani-Plage (less than five minutes drive south of the resort) is where the supermarket is located where groceries can be brought as well as a few restaurants and shops.


Village Vacances la Vallicella, go to the resort's website here.


Conclusion: We really did enjoy my stay here and had no problems with the resort. It had everything we needed and again, was in our budget range. With cheap flights from the UK and other European countries (as well as other cities in France), Corsica is really easy to get to now. We would certainly stay here again if exploring the area but we can’t wait to return to the island to explore other parts. There is so much to do here, to see and to enjoy.

I totally love the coastline of northern Corsica

Essentials


How to get to & where it is located: By plane: there are two main airlines on the island, Ajaccio on the western coast and in the north-east, Bastia. A lot of airlines serve both airports, the main airline being used is Air Corsica. On the island itself it is best to hire a car as we don't recommend public transport. There are a couple of train lines on the island but they do not really connect well to other towns. There are local buses but they run very rarely unless you are in the main towns. 


Accommodation: There are a lot of accommodation options and a lot of websites which can do some great deals. Our first point of call is always Booking.com and can offer a range of hostels, hotels, campsites, apartments, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts. After that I always have a look through AirBnb for great deals on apartments and other lodgings especially when traveling as a family. 


Currency: France uses the Euro currency which is also widely used in most European countries. Currency can be exchanged at the two airports on the island so we would recommend either going to a currency exchange place downtown, to a bank (if they have good rates) or if you got a good bank account with fantastic exchange rates, then use an ATM machine (may incur a small fee but we always do this option as I got good bank accounts). 


Language: It’s France, so it would be French. However at major tourist sites, a lot of staff do speak English (it is not like the old days where French people refuse to speak English, that has changed you will find the locals here love to practice their English as well as visitors trying to learn French). However a lot of locals also speak Italian and the native Corsican language, Corsu which is more used in the rural areas of the island.


Watch out for: Didn't have a problem here. Use common sense, like watch out for pickpockets etc but to be honest, this is probably one of the quietest areas we have been to in France so visitors should not have a problem.


Flying into the area: Then we would recommend using Skyscanner to find flights as that is our first point of call. Then if necessary use the airlines directly to find a good deal. We sometimes use Momondo as well to compare prices before booking. 


Travel insurance: This is essential to anywhere you go in the world. I always carry travel insurance. Having travel insurance will cover you from theft, illness and those annoying cancellations which can happen on the road. 


Need a visa for France? Always check if you need a visa when coming to France, especially for those who come from outside Europe.


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Disclosure: Please note that while I was not working with any companies in Corsica (Corse), my review and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support! There maybe some links above which are affiliate and are at no additional cost to you. If my readers use them, I earn a commission to buy their products and remember, I only mentioned products and companies I use. The income from this keeps this website going. Thank you. 

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