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Corsica: France’s best-kept secret

Corsica: France’s best-kept secret

I’m torn between jumping from the hillside and shouting about the amazingness that is the island of Corsica, and selfishly keeping this gem for myself and the rest of the French-speaking world. However, I’ve never been good at keeping secrets and I can still barely contain my excitement about this island of beauty.

Best. Beaches. Ever.

Before I moved to Nice, I doubt I would have been able to identify Corsica as a French territory, much less point it out on a map. But huge blue-and-yellow Corsica & Sardinia Ferries leaving the port every day inspired me to Google where they were going–and I was struck by images of crystal-clear and sandy beaches and a remarkably undeveloped seaside. Everyone who talked about Corsica unfailingly mentioned how beautiful and rugged it was.

Somehow a coffee date conversation two weeks ago turned to island getaways, and within an hour, a friend and I had booked a ferry voyage to Corsica, feeling pressured by the impossibly low price of the round-trip voyage. I felt like we were setting off with impossibly high expectations, but I think we spent about 75 percent of our trip talking about how much we loved Corsica and the other 25 percent rendered speechless by the beauty. Despite not booking hotels until two days before our departure and doing almost no research, we somehow ended up stumbling across every guidebook-recommended spot and finding a few hidden gems on our own.

View from the Citadel

Arriving in Corsica, you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time: the mountains are delightfully bare of celebrity villas, the water is crystal clear, and the two-car train runs on a track that barely looks useable. Everyone speaks French, a stark contrast to Nice, which has been taken over by Anglophone expats and summer tourists. Even during high season, both Ile Rousse and Calvi never felt overwhelmingly crowded. I feel like I’ve been sweating from morning to night in Nice, and while it was hot in Corsica, the heat was drier and there was always a breeze.

As we wandered onto the beaches, I immediately fell into a state of bliss as my toes buried into the velvety sand. Adding to my delight was the complete lack of waves and depth: you could walk out into the calm sea the length of a football field and still only have the water hit your waist. I couldn’t believe that this paradise was only a few hours from the mainland.

We indulged in air-conditioned hotel rooms, the Corsican specialties of wild boar and crepes with fresh fig jam, morning cafes on the port–and were shocked that we were able to live the high life on our extremely limited budget. The ferry ride felt less like a mode of transport than a luxury afternoon devoted to tanning and watching the dolphins jump in our wake.

Enjoying the beautiful Calvi sunset

And I think the three days we spent there were probably my first three days with absolutely no Internet access in years. Completely unplugging has left me with quite a bit to catch up on, but the utter relaxation I felt was completely worth it. I can’t wait to share more about the Corsica experience–including how to get there, where to stay and what to eat–but right now, it’s time to unpack and get back to work!

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  • Certainly sounds like a place I must visit one of these days!

  • This is off topic but that dress you are wearing is gorgeous! Love.

    I've never really thought about Corsica either, but you make a pretty great case for it. Added to the epic list…

  • travelingsavage

    Looks like my kind of place. Thanks for sharing this spot with an anglophile 🙂

  • SoloFriendly

    I love the way you've described your trip here! And those photos….wow. Corsica seems lovely.

  • ielanguages

    David & I are planning to go to Corsica for our vacation next summer. 🙂

  • Oh my gosh, it looks absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the secret with the rest of us. 😉

  • Katelyn

    Oh.my.gosh. You were right. This looks AMAZING to say the least. We are for sure going back someday 🙂

  • camorose

    It's definitely worth it! I can't wait to go back.

  • camorose

    Aw thanks! Corsica is definitely worth adding to the list, especially if you end up in France or Italy–the ferries are super cheap and convenient.

  • camorose

    No worries–I couldn't contain my excitement! If you need an English-speaking tour guide and translator, I'm available! (read: I need an excuse to go back!)

  • camorose

    I'm still brimming with enthusiasm about the trip–Corsica wowed me, which was hard to do with my extremely high expectations!

  • camorose

    I would definitely recommend May or September to avoid the high-season prices, but honestly, even in July it wasn't overly crowded in Calvi. Such a great French secret!

  • camorose

    I just hope that everyone has as an amazing experience as I did!

  • camorose

    Absolutely! Can't wait to play tour guide 🙂

  • oooooh my. it looks amazing. i am going to start saving right NOW! thanks for sharing!!!

  • camorose

    Come visit and we'll take the ferry–it's incredibly cheap from Nice! 🙂

  • Daniel

    Wow — your post inspired me to continue reading on about this island! Random Corsica fact — Napoléon Bonaparte was born there; his ancestral home is preserved there, too! It's going on the 'bucket' list!

  • Jcpkap

    Sounds like a place I want to travel. You are so very lucky to be working so hard!!!!
    Enjoy and do it while you are young:)

  • Candicewalsh

    *must go*

  • Sounds like an awesome weekend getaway. Jealous! Also, I love that you unplugged while you were away. It's amazing how different life is when you're not online all the time (says I with my iPod in one hand and laptop in the other).

  • camorose

    Christopher Columbus was born there too! We actually went by his childhood home–I think Napoleon was born in the south, as we didn't see any mentions of him in Ile Rousse or Calvi. Corsica is definitely a worthy bucket list destination–I can't wait to go back!

  • camorose

    Trying to squeeze it all in when I can! Working hard while I'm in Nice so that I can finance my travels. I'm hoping to learn to scuba dive soon so I can try that on my voyages–Corsica is supposed to be a great scuba diving destination! (hint hint–you and Uncle Jay should try it!)

  • camorose

    You'd love it. Get your bum over to Europe.

  • camorose

    It was probably the longest I've gone without Facebook in years, and it was fabulous. I really hope to unplug on more of my vacations, even if it means long afternoons in front of the computer when I return. It really lets you soak up a destination more. Try it sometime–it's worth it!

  • beautiful! I know what you mean about keeping places to yourself- but thanks for sharing. I've definitely added this to my “must-go” list!

  • suzyguese

    I loved Corsica as well, even when it was freezing cold in winter. My sister and I traveled all around the island by that cute two car train. It doesn't go far though. It would just stop and everyone would get off and head to a bus. Ultimately we got where we were going, but it was nice to see the interior of the island as well as the coast. If you go back, which it sounds like you will, try to make it to Corte. Probably my favorite spot on the island although I did have an amazing Easter dinner in Calvi complete with apple tart. That might be my favorite place ha. Corsica must cast some sort of spell over visitors…

  • camorose

    No problem! It's definitely a beautiful place to go, especially if you're already in France!

  • camorose

    Corte will definitely be next on my list! We took the two-car train as well from Ile Rousse to Calvi–adorable, but I don't think I could travel the whole island like that! I'm definitely hoping to see more of the interior and the south at some point. Some day!

  • In 2007, we took our campervan over from the Italy side and drove around the north part of the island. There’s a long beautiful, secluded beach accessible from St. Florent called Plage du Saleccia. You have to take a ferry to another beach then hike over an hour to get to it, but there is a campground there. You can also 4×4 in you have the proper vehicle. If you’re interested, check out our time there: http://www.vagabonderz.com/corsica-or-not/

  • Alexis

    I’ll definitely have to check this out the next time I’m in France

  • Anonymous

    It’s super easy to leave from the ports at Nice or Marseille, but there are also lots of cheap flights from Paris! Totally worth checking out!

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  • corsica <3

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  • hotel charme corse

    it is true that the climate is really pleasant in Corsica. it’s hot but like you said with the wind it’s bearable. I know that because of this they have great vineyards and wine because it is an ideal environment to protect the vines from diseases while gorging sun clusters. Corsican wines are really testing

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