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Sifex France Guide to Corse du Sud

The capital of Southern Corsica is Ajaccio, a sunny busy town, the major part dates from the 19th Century and its oldest quarter 'San Carlu' is from the Genoese period with its white stuccoed houses, fountains and palm trees. Napoleon Bonaparte was born here and several buildings celebrate his history, including the Maison Bonaparte where he grew up. Stroll along the Jetée de la Citadelle for a magnificent view of the bay cradled by mountains, and enjoy exploring the old port and the narrow streets of the town, the yacht marina, the restaurants and sidewalk cafes. To the north of the bay you can see the Iles Sanguinaires, tiny rocky islands that glow an unearthly red at sunset. There are quiet beaches not far from the city, to the north along the Gulf of Ajaccio, with turquoise waters and wild waves that are a favourite with surfers. To the south is the seaside resort of Porticcio, with coves and sandy beaches, popular for all kinds of watersports. Inland begin the chestnut forests, a peaceful haven of giant trees and gushing waterfalls.

On the west cost is the Gulf of Porto, now a UNESCO world Heritage site, so beautiful it is all protected. There are marvellous drives and boat trips that go all around the coast and the red granite cliffs that dip straight into the sea. The Girolata peninsula is volcanic, a Dalinien landscape of jagged peaks and lava flows plunging into turquoise waters. To the north is the Scandola nature reserve, Europe’s only land and sea reserve. Porto is a pretty and popular seaside resort and and Piana further up the coast is famous for its granite calanches and caves. Cargèse gave asylum to Greek refugees in the 17th century and still has two churches, Greek Orthodox and Catholic both facing each other.

The Grand Valinco, south of Ajaccio has a large number of prehistoric sites, especially Filitosa where there are 3000 year old menhirs carved like fierce warriors, to be found amid the chestnut trees. Several can be seen at the Musée de Prehistoire in Sartène. Sartène is also famous for the Catenacciu, the Good Friday procession when a citizen disguised in a red hooded robe acts out Christ’s walk to the Cross, carrying a cross weighing more than 30 kilos. The event draws thousands of visitors every year. On the coast is the resort of Propriano, sheltered by the deep calm gulf of Valinco, and a wonderful journey can be made around a coastline of delightful coves and beaches.

In the very southern tip of Corsica the mountains sweep right down to the sea with stunning beaches tucked into the creeks and cliffs. The town of Bonifacio is one of the most popular sites, a medieval town perched high on white cliffs overlooking the sea, and a popular harbour below. Just off the coast are the Lavezzi Isles, a protected marine park and all along the coastline are rocky inlets where sailing boats drop anchor to swim in limpid blue waters. The Golfe de Portevecchio also has wonderful beaches, the Cote des Nacres (mother-of-pearl coast) with sandy shores and huge marinas. Not far inland is the Ospedale massif, a cool hinterland of pine and cork oak forests, tumbling waterfalls and the pretty marina of Solenzara. It is a region perfect for canyoning, rock climbing, hunting and fishing.

© 2003-2006 Sarah Francis

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