Monday, June 11, 2012

Corsica - the land of white cliffs

We visited Corsica in Aug 2009. Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea between France and Italy.

Napoleon was from Corsica and politically Corsica is  part of France now. So a Schengen Visa is sufficient to visit it. The best way to reach Corsica is via Marseilles, France. There are regular flights from Marseilles to Ajaccio (the capital city of Corsica). There are also ferries from Nice, France and Sardinia, Italy to some of the cities in Corsica. So if you are in Nice for the Cannes Film Festival, Corsica would be a very nice stopover before heading back.

Bonifacio, Corsica

Corsica was one of those very rare places we have visited till now where we did not find an Indian tourist.  This is probably because there is no McDonald's here as well (the refuge of the average Indian tourist). The touristic crowd is predominantly French and Italian. Thus if you are manage to reach this far, you will be in all likelihood be one of the very few Indian pioneers to have wandered here. Of course, that also gives you better bragging rights when you return home as compared to visiting the tried and tested places like Paris or Rome. We can assure you that Corsica is indeed a hidden gem and you will have no problems in findings things to reminiscence about on returning home.

On a more serious note, English is not so prevalent here  and you will only find French/Italian restaurants here (with even the menus in French/Italian). So do not forget to take a English-to-French dictionary with you.


While Ajaccio is the capital, Bonifacio can be considered as the main touristic city. There is practically no public transportation here so either you drive or take a taxi. The city itself is quite small, so walking is definitely a viable alternative though the cliffs may dampen your spirits. Of course, the cliffs also allow you to capture amazing views of the coast from above (below).

Bonifacio, Corsica
Bonifacio, Corsica

The hotels here are on the expensive side as they cater only to tourists. There are no business travelers here as Corsica is a "conserved" state with virtually no industries. Most of the people working here are also seasonal who only live here during the peak (summer) touristic season.

Corsica played an important role in the French-British wars and hence the fortress walls surrounding the city (below).

Fortress walls, Bonifacio, Corsica

In the evening, Bonifacio transforms itself into a chic maritime city with many cafes, restaurants, shops along the coast. There are usually local musicians playing in the streets transforming the whole evening atmosphere into a very relaxing/soothing place where you will easily forget all your worries. So get your best summer dresses out and just chill!

Bonifacio city, Corsica

Lavezzi Islands

From Bonifacio,  there are numerous ferries that take you to one of the many small islands nearby. One such option is the Lavezzi Islands. Corsica can get pretty hot in summer and the island provides tranquil conditions to spend most of the day under water, sleeping on your sail boat (the perfect summer pass time) or enjoying a picnic on the beaches.

Sailing on the Mediterranean Sea, Bonifacio, Corsica
Lavezzi Islands, Corsica

The ferry trip also allows you to enjoy some more spectacular sand cliffs on the way.

Bonifacio, Corsica

Sardinia, Italy

Of course, if you have a little more time in hand, or would simply like to continue your trip to Italy - you can take a ferry and cross over to Sardinia, Italy. The journey time is around one hour and there are daily excursions from Bonifacio that make it possible to go and come back the same day. The ferries (operated by Moby Lines) are actually quite big (pic below) and also allow you to take your cars with you.

Ferry to Sardinia, Italy

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