Logistics: the ferry from Nice to Corsica

July 26, 2010 in France,Places

What encourages spontaneity more than rock-bottom prices? When conversation turned to Corsica, the only option for how to get there (in our minds) was Corsica Ferries. We’d watched the big yellow and blue boats, emblazoned with the Corsican national symbol, coming and going from the Nice port every day. And we were shocked when we went home to research prices and found that a round-trip voyage would only cost us each about 45 Euros. The surprisingly low price was enough for us to book on the spot, and figure out the rest of the details later.

IMG_0527

We weren’t sure what to expect once we arrived at the ferry in the port. Actually, we weren’t even sure how to get on the ferry. Since the vast majority of people take their cars over on the ferry, it’s a bit more difficult to navigate as a pedestrian. We quickly learned that you just have to dodge the slow-moving traffic and walk directly into the garage portion of the boat, and then find the stairs to go up to deck level.

We had splurged an extra 2 Euros each on the trip over for un fauteil—or an actual seat. There’s a large room of seats with a flat-screen playing movies on the main floor, and buying a seat guarantees you’ll have a spot to sit. However, there were plenty of people who sought out free deck chairs, grabbed a chair and table in the café, or just spread out a beach towel on the floor.

IMG_0525

The entertainment was quite low-tech: no headphones or language choices. I also thought P.S. I Love You was quite a strange movie choice for 7 a.m. with a room full of kids, but none of the French parents seemed too worried about it. I plugged in my iPod, stuck on my eye mask and floated away to sleep for most of the trip over.

IMG_0637

On the way back, the option for those 2-Euro fauteils wasn’t given in our online booking form, so we decided to wing it. We arrived at the boat about 30 minutes before departure and headed up to the top deck to snag ourselves a deck chair. Just in time as it turns out—we were able to grab two of the last spots in prime suntanning location.

The trip back felt a bit more like a luxury cruise ship experience than a 20 Euro transport system. We changed into our bikini tops, lathered on sunscreen, and soaked up the sun. It was even better than going to the beach: a constant breeze kept us cool and we didn’t have to worry about pesky sand getting in everything we owned. We brought a variety of Corsican specialties—charcuterie sandwiches, fig tarts, fresh melon—on board for lunch but there are a few cafes and buffets on board selling food at reasonable prices.

IMG_0630

Added bonus? Schools of dolphins and whales leaping in our wake! We thought the aquatic animal watching was just a normal part of the experience until the French man next us told us that he’d been coming to Corsica on the ferry for years and had never seen a whale. Guess we just lucked out!

I give Corsica Ferries two thumbs up. The experience was an extremely good value for the cheap price: comfortable and efficient. Workers weren’t overly friendly—and the heavily Italian-accented French was at times difficult to understand—but they were helpful when needed. Prices can get a bit more expensive if you take a car over, but there are a ton of discounts for students and people younger than 26. Departure points from Nice, Toulon and Marseille make Corsica an easy getaway if you’re already in the south of France. However, limited departures each day to various ports can make scheduling a bit difficult if you’re set on a particular destination and day.

The Corsica Ferry is definitely one of those experiences where the journey is just as beautiful as the destination. Enjoy it!

  • Thanks for the advice Christine. I'm planning a trip there within the next month. What did you do for transportation once you got there? And where did you stay?

  • LostInCheeseland

    So glad you posted this because we saw the ferry and were very curious about what it looked like on the inside! Looks really nice, actually! How long of a trip was it?

    Will definitely consider doing it that way next time, starting in the South of France and then heading over. Might be a fun change!

  • That's amazing. When I go to France (eventually) – it is definitely going to be one of my stops!

  • Wow, what an experience! Gorgeous photos, too – LOVE dolphins!! Have a lovely time :)

  • camorose

    Took the train from Ile Rousse to Calvi, and other than that, stuck to traveling by foot. Both towns are tiny! Will be reporting on accommodation this week :)

  • camorose

    About five hours, but it felt more like leisure than travel! Once we discovered the upper deck with sunshine and comfy deck chairs, I was set.
    Wouldn't be bad to do a road trip, particularly if you want to have a car in Corsica to explore a bit more! And then, of course, you could visit Nice :)

  • camorose

    It's a great little trip from the mainland of France–and one that many tourists miss!

  • camorose

    The dolphins were an added plus! We kept looking at each other, like people PAY to go on whale watching trips and we've just lucked out with seeing a ton of whales and dolphins almost by accident. Couldn't stop smiling the whole way back!

  • Lucky with the dolphins! Great tip with entering through the garage – who would have thought? Can't wait to hear more about it!

  • backpackingmatt

    Ferry looks pretty nice for a passenger transport ferry!

    That's pretty amazing you saw dolphins AND whales! What kind of whales were they? Sounds like you were better off with the non €2 seat!

  • camorose

    You'll definitely have to make a Corsica trip when you're here! It's crazy that so many people never make it–it's so close and insanely beautiful. Plus, the ferry is uber cheap!

  • camorose

    Unfortunately, my knowledge of whales is limited in English, and much more so in French. But we saw them flapping their tales about and then spurting water out of their breathing hole. It was definitely closest I've seen a whale, and so many at that!
    I think I'd pay for a 2 Euro seat in the early morning/night ferry again–just easier to crash–but definitely take a deck chair for afternoons in the sun!

  • Great post Christine – safe to say everyone reading this is dying to be in your part of the world!

    Great job on your blog as well, I always love seeing your posts on my reader. Keep it up – savour France and everything in it and everyone around! And good luck with the ice cream/sorbet challenge! :)

  • camorose

    Thanks so much–that kind of news always brightens my day! I'm glad you're enjoying it, and hope that you can make it over to this side of the world sometime soon to soak up the sun and the culture! I'm working on the ice cream challenge–although a discovery of Nutella brownies has seriously sidetracked my dessert envy :)

  • Pingback: Logistics: a place to stay in Corsica — C'est Christine()

  • Pingback: From sunrise to sunset — C'est Christine()

  • Solli

    Great post! Im acctually travelling to Corsica in August and Im going to take the ferry from Nice. I still havent bought the tickets yet, but I was wondering….would you recommend paying for a seat or is it possible to have a sunchair outside if Im there in good time before departure? And do you know if there was any restrictions regarding luggages?

  • camorose

    If it’s sunny out, I’d definitely get there early and just grab a sun chair. Don’t think there are any major restrictions regarding luggage, but if you don’t take a car, you have to drag your luggage with you everywhere (up stairs and on deck and such)–that was motivation enough for me to just take a backpack!

  • Christine Tarver

    Hi, I am traveling to nice next month. I am curious, is Corsica a day trip? Could I leave early in the morning, explore, the return to Nice in the same day?

  • camorose

    It’d be suuuuper tight. I’d recommend spending at least one night if you’re taking the ferry.

Previous post:

Next post: