Travel Europe

Discovering the French Secrets - Corsia

 

Talking of France, one always hears the names Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, the French Riviera, and Alsace etc. However, France has this little known jewel, which can fulfil the travel fantasies of any voyageur. This secret is the small French island called Corsica. Geographically closer to Italy, Corsica is happily perched south of the French mainland, in the Mediterranean Sea. This island is the perfect getaway for someone who is looking for some quiet time amidst nature.

Nature has been extra benevolent when it designed Corsica. The island has the best of both worlds- gorgeous beaches and luscious green mountains. There is a single mountain range that runs through the length of the island, which makes for the world’s most acclaimed trek, the GR20. There are innumerable beaches dotted all along the coasts and many of them have been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Getting there-

Getting to the island is easy. There are four airports on the island. You can either get here by air; there are regular flights from Paris and a few from UK and Europe too. The island is also connected by ferries with almost all the port cities of France and a few in Italy.

What’s there-

Ajaccio and Bastia are the two main cities on the island. The smaller towns include Corte, Calvi, St. Florent, Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio, Porto, Ile Rousse etc. Apart from these, there are a number of small villages all across the island.

Moving around-

There’s a train that connects Bastia and Ajaccio, with a branch to Calvi. You can also hire bikes, cycles, and cars easily. However, there might be some long distances where it can be hard to find something as simple as a centre for car repairs.

Food -

The Corsican culture is highly influenced by the French and the Italians. Nevertheless, Corsica has managed to preserve its own culture quite well. This is most apparent in their food and language. The Corsicans wines are distinctly different from that found in the European mainland. The same goes for the cheese. Corsican cheese is mainly made from goat milk. They say that the Mediterranean grass on which the cattle is fed, gives the milk and the cheese an entirely different flavour. Corsica also has another liquor called Cap Corse, which is made from local plants and herbs. Pietra is the beer made locally and you won’t find the same flavour in any other beer.

Weather -

Summers bring out the best of Corsica, but summer also means hordes of tourists. If you do not like your beaches too crowded, then you can choose early summer or the fall, when the weather is still beautiful and there is a lot less crowd. The winters are not very harsh but the island is almost empty during the winter months. Most of the restaurants and hotels close down and only open in the tourist season.

Activities -

Whether you are a beach person or a mountain person, Corsica will not disappoint you. During summers almost all the beaches offer snorkelling and many other water sports. For the mountaineers, there is the brilliant trail to explore. Depending on how much time and effort you want to put in, you can choose from the many treks.