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.
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.
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.
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!