Corsica - the Island of beauty
The mountainous Mediterranean island of Corsica sits off the south coast of France and appears to be its little continent. The island, which was formerly part of Italy, has been a popular holiday destination with Parisians for years, and it's no wonder why. Home to prosperous coastal towns, jagged cliffs, and endless hiking trails, Corsica provides a welcome escape from the mainland's nuances.
Although Corsica has been part of France since 1768, the island has managed to retain an air of Italian culture. You'll notice the local cuisine difference, as Italian restaurants dot the island (sample the local specialty of Bonifacio if you get the chance). When you're not soaking up the local melting pot of culture, you'll likely be climbing mountains in Regional Natural Park of Corsica or sunbathing on the remote Saleccia Beach. There's a little something in Corsica for every traveler type.
If you're arriving in Corsica by boat, you'll likely dock at Porto-Vecchio. This port town sits on the southeast coast of the island and boasts a charming Old Town and a yacht-filled marina. The perfect place to kick-start your time on the island.
The Capital of Ajaccio
Corsica's capital city is a rugged port city found on the island's west coast. Ajaccio is known for being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, and you'll notice a fair few monuments in his name around town. The capital is a good starting point for those interested in history and culture. With this in mind, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Fesch Museum, and the Maison Bonaparte museum, which sits in Napolean's ancestral home, should be of interest.
Similarly, the Palais Fesch Musee des Beaux-Arts offers a glimpse into the life of Napoleon too. This fine art museum is home to one of the most extensive collections of Italian paintings! Inside you'll find works by Botticelli, Titan, and Bellini.
Without a doubt, Ajaccio is home to some of the island's best historical landmarks. However, the northern town of Calvi is absolutely worth a visit too. This medieval city is well-known for its beaches, but its the hilltop citadel that steals the show.
The citadel was fortified in the 12th century and spent the rest of history fending off intruders! Today visitors can explore the grounds on an audio tour. Inside the ramparts, you'll discover cobbled streets, the ruins of Christopher Columbus' home, and the famous Saint Jean-Baptise Cathedral.
Once you've explored the grounds of Calvi Citadel, return to Calvi Beach. From here, you can enjoy unrivaled views of the former fortress and the surrounding walls. Alternatively, head out on a boat tour of the coast and admire the views from further afield.
Corisca's Best Beaches
If you'd prefer to spend most of your time on the island hopping from one beach to the other, then read on. Corsica has over 1000km of coastline and nearly 200 beaches, so there's plenty of choices. For a sweeping beach that boasts the most transparent water on the island, head to Calvi Beach. Alternatively, if you enjoy snorkeling, consider Arinella Beach in the town of Lumio. Those who prefer remote coves might prefer the beaches of Loto and Saleccia. Lush green hills back both of these beaches. In the same breath, Palombaggia Beach should be on your to-visit list too. This beautiful stretch of sand looks more aking to the Caribbean than the Mediterranean!
Les Calanches – the Grand Canyon of Corsica
No trip to Corsica is complete without a trip to Les Calanches. Otherwise known as the 'Grand Canyon of Corsica' this dramatic landscape is a hikers paradise. The area is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located between the towns of Ajaccio and Calvi.
The dramatic red rock formations that make up western Corsica have attracted hikers for years. Several trails wind through the granite rocks, each one providing spectacular views out to sea at every turn. Alternatively, if you'd like to admire the cliffs from afar, consider exploring the coastline by boat. FranceRent can arrange a luxury yacht charter and ensure you enjoy the very best of Les Calanches. There are numerous blue lagoons to explore too, and these are best visited with a seasoned expert.
Before leaving the canyons behind, make sure you visit the nearby village of Piana. Despite being quite small, there are a couple of interesting landmarks. Namely, the 18th-century baroque church that stands proud in the village center.
Scandola Nature Reserve
Another of Corsica's UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the Scandola Nature Reserve. To reach the reserve, take a boat from the port town of Calvi and head north. The journey takes in secret coves, red cliffs, and volcanic headlands before arriving at the reserve. Once there, you'll find a number of walking trails winding through the diverse forest. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins on the way!
In conclusion, there's so much to do and see in Corsica that forgoing it from your southern France itinerary would be silly. From hiring a boat and touring the coastline, to tracing the steps of Napoleon Bonaparte in the capital, this French island does not disappoint. Whatsmore, getting here from mainland France is easy.
There are four airports on the island of Corsica in total, and FranceRent can arrange travel to all. Calvi, Bastia, Figari, and Ajaccio Airpor are well linked with the island's main resorts and towns. If you'd like to arrive in style, FranceRent will take care of all your luxury transfers needs. Boat rental, helicopter hire, and car transfers are just some of the ways FranceRent can get you from A to B.
Shopping on Cote d’Azur
It’s no secret that the South of France is an area well known for its acquired taste in luxury living, and when it comes to shopping this affluent region has a real flair for fashion and a lot to offer for shopaholics. Dare to drag yourself away from the alluring arrondissements of Paris’s fashion district and you’ll be rewarded with a sunsoaked shopping haven on Cote d’Azur and when it comes to shopping, the French Riviera does not disappoint. From upmarket department stores like Galeries Lafayette (whose flagship store you’ll find in Paris) to independent art galleries including the Sheun Gallery in Nice, the array of shopping available on Cote d’Azur covers a variety of tastes and, believe it or not, can be tailored to suit all budgets.
Best restaurants on Cote d'Azur - France
Famous for its designer fashion brands, rolling vineyards, and historic monuments, France is a country with a lot to offer but it’s the nation’s gourmet cuisine that draws millions of visitors year after year. French dishes, which are usually full of flavor, made using simple ingredients, and boasting great finesse, have been replicated around the globe by passionate chefs aiming to try their hand at traditional dishes and haute cuisine. Below we’ve looked at some of the best restaurants in the south of France. Whether you’re looking for fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant (France is home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world) or hearty French cuisine at an authentic bistro, we’ve covered all dining options to suit every taste in this restaurant guide.
South of France by car
With 71 miles of winding corniche roads, numerous quaint Provincial villages to visit, and endless soft sand beaches to stop at and enjoy some sun-soaking, France’s Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s dreamiest road trip destinations. Rent a car on the French Riviera and the Mediterranean Sea and the charm of southern France is at your fingertips! On your Riviera road trip, you’ll wind your way around a variety of landscapes, soak up a diverse range of cultures, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. After all, there’s no better way to navigate the coast than to do so with the comfort and freedom of your own vehicle.
Events and festivals on French Riviera
The Cote d’Azur is abuzz with glitz and glamour all year round but it’s the summer months that really get the party started on France’s sought-after south coast. Events and festivals are held every month and range from theatre performances and music festivals to cinematography celebrations and yacht races. A-listers, millionaires, and outright party people flock to the shores of the Mediterranean for a summer to remember as seaside towns and secluded beaches become the stomping ground for a summer of fun. Below we take a look at some of the best events and festivals on the Côte d’Azur and provide a handy event guide to help you plan your dream trip.
Nightlife on the French Riviera - Cote d'Azur
The French Riviera is renowned for its glitz and glam appeal, hedonistic summers, and over the top attitude to partying, all of which make it a popular destination with those looking for a lively social scene. Jazz cafes, trendy bars, and glamorous night clubs line the sparkling coast and visitors can choose between splashing the cash at an invite-only beach party or rubbing shoulders with A-listers at one of the best clubs in the world. Whatever your entertainment taste may be, the Cote d’Azur has a little something for everyone.
Top activities on Cote d'Azur
The scenic stretch of coastline known as the Cote d’Azur winds its way along France’s south coast from Saint Tropez to Menton, encompassing the chic towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco along the way. The area is known as a playground for the rich and famous, and a glamorous holiday destination for those looking to soak up the very best of the French Riviera. When it comes to Cote d’Azur attractions, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit along the coast to keep all character types entertained. Whether you’re exploring Nice’s charming Old Town on a free walking tour, people-watching at Monte Carlo Harbor, or admiring 19th-century art in Cannes, the Cote d’Azur doesn’t disappoint.