Beth, from our Admin team, shares her experiences from a recent educational trip to Corsica, in which she spent four nights exploring the island's beautiful and diverse north.
Flying home on my Air Corsica flight gave me time to reflect on my short but very sweet time in Northern Corsica. We had flown into Calvi with Titan Airways only four days earlier. Our landing was stunning and gave a glimpse of what was to come. The bay of Calvi is shaped like a scallop shell, with the very historic citadel (the haunt of a young Napoleon supposedly) was guarding one side of this shell, and the headland of Punta Caldanu the other.
A view across Calvi
The airport is nestled in the lowland hills just outside of Calvi, and like all Corsican airports, it’s small but perfectly formed! After collecting our hire car, we travelled the short distance to our hotel for the first stage of our trip – Hotel L’Onda. The hotel is located just by the beach and is just a short evening stroll from the marina. The highlight here was sitting in one of the many restaurants on the Quai Adolphe Landry, drinking in the setting, people/boat watching, and of course, sampling a small tipple or two!
View from Hotel l'Onda balcony
Boat watching in the marina
We found that the backstreets of Calvi is where the locals would eat, drink and socialise. Calvi is the place to be if you like the hustle and bustle of a major town, with the options of discovering the history and culture of Corsica (you must try the boar and charcuterie for a flavour of culinary culture) or just lying on the beach. The sea has a gentle slope here, so is great for swimming or paddling. If you wanted to have a transfer from the airport to your property in this area, there is always the little train which will take you along the coast to other towns and villages of Corsica.
We visited several residences in Calvi, including Le Home, Maisons Bervily and Villas Mandarine, while we also looked at several hotels in our collection, including Calvi Hôtel, Hôtel La Villa and Hôtel St Christophe. Each had their own charm and suited different budgets, but my personal highlight was Villas Mandarine (if I could have sneaked that kitchen into my suitcase, I am channelling my inner Harry Potter here, I would have!)
Hôtel St Christophe
After two nights here, we had to wave goodbye to Calvi and continue our journey, with Bastia Airport as its end. We passed the village of Lumio and dropped in to see Villa Gemma and Villa Horatio, before stopping in the very sleepy village of Algajola, where we were able to park the car and look around several apartments and hotels. We took a refreshment break at Hôtel L’Ondine, where we sat and looked at the stunning, unspoilt view of the beach and surrounding area. Algajola seems to be very laid-back compared to the hustle and bustle of Calvi. The main attraction of the area is beach-based, but very low-key, with sunbathing and exploring the coast (including the rocks) the order of the day.
Our next safe harbour was the town of I’lle Rousse and lunch! To reach the town, we went through the very exclusive area of Davia and looked around Villa Davia – I felt like I’d been transported to Miami as this villa was very rockstar-esque!
After our much-anticipated lunch at Le Marinella on Prom de la Marinella, we visited Hôtel Liberata and Hôtel Casa Rossa (I can recommend their homemade lemonade). We finished our tours for the day at Hôtel Santa Maria with their stunning vistas. Again, these hotels would suit different people, but all have their own unique charm.
Lunch in I’lle Rousse
Our hotel for the night was Hôtel Le Splendid which is situated a very short stroll away from the town square, but far enough not to be disturbed. As we had eaten a large lunch, we decided to sit in one of the number of cafés which flank the square and indulge in some people-watching.
There were three matches of pétanque taking place, and it looks like this sport is much enjoyed by all ages. The evening stroll took us through the small market, where several artists had an outside gallery set up. We strolled past the now-closed shops, with their wears peering through doors waiting for the morning shoppers, and onto the waterside. The waterside was on the radar for other after-dinner strollers, the twinkling lights forever beckoning us further along the coast.
Local art on sale in the market
A game of pétanque taking place in I’lle Rousse's square
Our last port we were heading to was St Florent, which lays at the base of the Cap Corse peninsula. To reach here we had to pass the Desert des Agriates, with all the twists and turns of this road. This road is stunning, with hidden valleys and beautiful glimpses of the coast and the distant St Florent. On the outskirts, we stopped to see the stunning villas of Villa A Machja, as well as L’Ancre Bleue and Villa Clea. After a detour, we viewed La Citaj, a stunning Premium property with very wide exposed floorboards, which told me this building had history to it. We reached the town of St Florent at lunchtime and we had been told to try an artisan ice cream by the harbour – we did as we were told! We checked the location of Chez Pamela while sampling one of the area’s finest gelatos.
View from Chez Pamela
We then turned our attention to the villages and area surrounding St Florent, which included a visit to Villa Joseli, which is a perfect property for families, Hôtel La Dimora, and for travellers who prefer to be closer to nature, La Lezardière and Casa di Padula. This last villa was my favourite of the trip. To reach it, you pass through lakes and vineyards, you’re in true Corsica now, away from all the tourist traps. You could stay there, turn off all the gadgets of the modern world, and let nature be the boss for seven nights. Would I stay there? Definitely.
Our last night we stayed in Hôtel Bellevue. Again, it’s close enough to walk to the restaurants, but not close enough to be disturbed by the throng of the town. There are nice boats in the harbour, but it doesn’t have the same vibe as Calvi, it’s more relaxed.
In the morning we drove the 45 minutes up and over the mountains, following the grey silk ribbon of road as it wound through the undulating landscape. The hire car was swiftly dealt with and within no time at all I was looking down on the grey ribbon winding its way back across towards St Florent and Calvi as we began our journey home with Air Corsica.
Find out more about holidays to Corsica by paying a visit to our dedicated Holiday Ideas page.