Logistics: the ferry from Nice to Corsica
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!