Cap Corse to the Castagniccia

Tour  

Cycling Tours  |  Bastia

Self-guided cycling tour - 8 day holiday, incl 6 days cycling

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Sun 02 Sep 2018

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Sun 29 Apr 2018
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This week long touring itinerary provides the perfect contrast between the coastal scenery of the north and rugged mountains of the interior. You will be treated to different landscapes every day! A great trip that will leave you with fantastic memories of Corsica and will make you want to return for more!

Quaint rural villages, fragrant maquis covered mountains and thick chestnut forests are all part of this popular cycling tour. You will discover such varied landscapes from the high peaks of the interior to the breathtaking coastline of the north while meeting proud island inhabitants along the way.

Cap Corse to the Castagniccia

Duration: 8 days

Difficulty level: Moderately challenging - for the regular cyclist

Type: Self-guided

Start and finish point: Bastia

Departure dates: Sunday 29th April - 14th October

Day 1: Bastia

After arriving at Bastia airport, you will be transferred to your hotel in Bastia. If you have time to discover the capital of "Haute Corse", it's worthwhile visiting the old port and the citadel. From the old city there are wonderful panoramic views over the sea and surroundings. For dinner, we advise you to go to the old port which has a very lively atmosphere in the summer.

Overnight in Bastia on bed & breakfast.

Day 2: The Cap Corse

This morning you'll pedal along the east side of the Cap Corse, only a stone's throw from the sea. You'll then cross the island to join the west coast of the Cap with its dramatic cliffs. The route is lined with Genoese and Paoline towers as well as old convents and mills. The landscape, including the small fishing ports, is splendid.
Night stay in a small coastal village on the west coast of the Cap.

Riding distances: a choice of two routes, approximately between 63km and 83km.

Overnight in a small coastal village on the west coast of the Cap​ on bed & breakfast.

Day 3: From the Cap to the Gulf of St Florent

Today you'll leave the Cap to pedal southward towards St Florent. According to your chosen route, you will be able to discover the village of Patrimonio, famous in the whole of Corsica for its vineyards. Tastings are possible in the cellars of the village. In St Florent, do not fail to visit the citadel and to stroll around the marina and its cobbled streets and boutiques.
 

Cycling distance: a choice of three routes between 25km and 41km

Overnight in St Florent on bed & breakfast.

Day 4: The Désert des Agriates

Today you are in the heart of the Désert des Agriates. From hamlet to hamlet, you cross this superb 'desert' covered in the local maquis scrub (which has a fantastic smell and is amazing in the spring when the maquis is in blossom). Returning to the coast, you will soon arrive at your accommodation, not far from L'Ile Rousse.

Cycling distance: a choice of three, approximately 48km, 69km or 80km.

Overnight in a village near to L'Ile Rousse on bed & breakfast.

Day 5: Villages of Balagne

Today you'll get to explore the pretty villages of la Balagne. This area is bewitching. The stone villages perched in the middle of nowhere have an astonishing beauty which hasn't changed with time.

Cycling distance: 30km, 44km, or 57km.

Overnight in the mountains on bed & breakfast.

Day 6: The Corsican Inheritance

You will continue into the villages of la Balagne by discovering superb testimonies of the past through old churches and convents. You will follow the border of the nature reserve of Corsica until you reach Ponte Leccia, your stop for the night. This day will likely be marked by the numerous animals that you will meet wandering in freedom: cows, pigs, goats...

Cycling distance: 34km, 41km or 56km.

Overnight in Ponte Leccia on bed & breakfast.

Day 7: Descent in Castagniccia

Your last day of cycling will take you through the villages of the Castagniccia - known for their chapels and plentiful chestnut forests. Red Kites are widespread in this area; you are likely to see them hovering over your heads. You will cross many rivers and brooks before arriving at the coast. 

Cycling distance: 29km, 50km or 60km.

Overnight in a village close to the airport on bed & breakfast.

Day 8: End of stay

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport.

Please note: This itinerary is an example of the itinerary we aim to adhere to, correct at time of publication. Should situations arise that are beyond our control, such as severe weather conditions, or other factors that could put your safety at risk, it may be possible for the itinerary to be modified.

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Trip grading and level of difficulty

This cycling trip ranks as a fantastic although fairly tough “leisure” cycling trip.  There are many hills to climb.  The easiest routes are the most direct – but these also include stretches along the main roads.  To get the most out of the holiday, it is better to take the longer routes which are on quiet country lanes.  A good level of fitness and stamina, plus regular cycling will be of benefit.

Please note that this trip takes place on roads open to traffic. You should be competent with a bike on the road and you should not cycle at night. Whilst it is not a legal requirement to wear a helmet, we request all clients to wear a helmet at all times when cycling in Corsica.  

Why self-guided Cycling?

You can cycle at your own pace, choosing when and where to stop. We transport your bags between the hotels, provide maps and notes. This is a way of enjoying complete flexibility, you dictate the pace and rhythm of your holiday. 

Number of participants

From 2 people. For safety reasons we do not accept single person reservations.

What's included

  • Return flights from Gatwick or Manchester 
  • 7 nights accommodation in en-route hotels, inns and guesthouses on bed & breakfast
  • Return airport transfers 
  • Rental of a hybrid bicycle for 6 full days 
  • Luggage transfers
  • Map and route notes

What's not included

  • Lunch and evening meals and beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • Optional upgrade to road or Ebike from £58pp

Bike information

Hybrid bicycles are included in the tour. These are a French brand. They are sturdy, solid and reliable and will definitely get you up those hills!  They have an aluminium frame, 21 gears (shimano) and a comfortable Selle Royal saddle.  They come in both men’s and ladies’ versions and are suitable for leisure cycling. Provided with a helmet, double back panniers, a handlebar bag (sometimes one between two), puncture repair kit, pump and a bike lock, the men’s versions have a water bottle cage, whereas the Women’s versions do not (but a water bottle can be carried in the panniers).

Luggage Moving and Day Sack

Luggage transfers will be made daily. During the day, you should take a day sack (or use the panniers if you are renting a hybrid bicycle) for carrying your essential personal items like your camera, wallet, phone, water and lunch.

It is important to consider that it may be necessary to carry your bags short distances at the start and towards the end of your holiday. You will need soft luggage.

Accommodation

See Tour Accommodation section below. 

Meals

Breakfasts are continental style. Evening meals are 3 course affairs using local produce. We recommend that you bring your preferred trail food, or high energy bars for the rides. Picnics can be purchased daily from bakers or small supermarkets. 

Spending money

Bring sufficient to cover your personal expenses including snacks and drinks. Bottled water, soft drinks, beer and wine, coffee are all expensive. It is impossible to change money here and trying to find a working cash machine can be problematic. We recommend bringing all the Euros you need with you in cash.

Preparing for your trip

Be aware that ALL cycling in Corsica includes some hills! Be prepared to do some climbing. It is a good idea to get fit for this trip. The more time you put in before you leave, the more you will get out of it. Before your holiday you should practice to ensure you are able to cover up to 80km a day.

Climate

You can expect to encounter some very wide ranging temperatures. During cycling you should be ready for everything, take powerful sun protection, as well as warm fleeces (depending on the time of year). Corsica is known for its micro climates and each valley can be very different. The weather can change quickly and the mountains generate some stormy, often unpredictable weather.

What to bring and pack

  • A small day pack for personal items – suitable for using on a bicycle.
  • A soft suitcase for your main luggage.  15kg maximum per person.
  • Water bottles
  • Your own cycle helmet (although standard basic helmets are provided if preferred)
  • Shoes suitable for cycling (trainers for example)
  • Your own cycle shoes, pedals and basic tools to fit the pedals (should a road bike be hired)
  • Clothes suitable for cycling – loose fitting shorts and a t-shirt, or lycra
  • Sun glasses – suitable for cycling
  • Cycling gloves (for road bicycle users)
  • Sun hat, sun cream
  • Swimming towel and swimming costume or trunks
  • Light wind and weatherproof jacket
  • Warm fleece and casual wear
  • Energy gels or bars
  • Mobile phone and camera
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Pen knife
  • First aid - we recommend that you bring your own personal first aid kit consisting of: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment, painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, re-hydration. Glucose tablets or malt loaf and multi-vitamin tablets are a good idea. 

UK residents should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. This might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care. You can obtain an EHIC from the Department of Health by phone, online, or at the post office.

Tour Accommodation

Days 1 to 7 - Cap Corse to the Castagniccia

Room Type: Standard Room

Board Basis: Bed & Breakfast

  More Information

About the Local Area

ABOUT AREA

Bastia is one of Corsica’s most successful commercial towns and known as the capital of Haute Corse. The Place St Nicolas is a pleasant spot to soak up Bastia's Mediterranean atmosphere and with its shady trees and cafes, is the social hub of the town. The Boulevard Paoli and Rue Cesar Campinchi are the main shopping streets running parallel to the square. The old town lies south of Place St Nicolas and surrounds the old port which should not be missed. It is overlooked by the honey coloured Citadel and bustles with harbour side bars and restaurants. Wander through the old streets behind the old port to find the Place du Marche where there is a local farmers market each morning.

BEACHES

Bastia
The main beach in the town of Bastia is a pebbly one, and it can get very busy with the locals in the summer months. The sandy Plage de l'Arinella, south of the town, is the beginning of a long sandy shore that extends along the whole of the east coast with water sports, beachside cafés and restaurants.

Moriani Plage
A 14km stretch of golden sand and gently shelving waters south of Bastia, Moriani Plage has various access points with several beach bars and water sports available.

Plage de Porticciolo
North of Erbalunga lies Plage de Porticciolo, a sandy beach near a small port which has turquoise sea and white sand. Its position means that it is rarely busy, and it is beautiful.

Plage d’Aliso
The narrow road down to the golfe d’Aliso just after the turn off for Luri, ends at a small, red, sandy beach.

Plage de Tamarone
Situated 2.5km north of Macinaggio at the end of a dirt road is the sandy and clean Plage de Tamarone that boasts deep and clear waters. Do not be surprised if the beach at Macinaggio itself is often covered with shelves of dead posidonia leaves as, although unattractive to wade through, they protect the coast from erosion and shelter the fish.  From the car park here, various walks are marked which take you through Le Site Naturels de la Capandula.  This reserve also includes the Islands off the coast, which you can see.  There is a coastal walk (sentier des douaniers) leading to Barcaggio (3-4hours one way) and also a shorter 1hr 30min circuit that takes in many of the highlights and leads to a second beach Plage des Iles.

FESTIVALS

Rock' Inseme  Biguglia, June
A rock and pop music festival bringing together recognised artists and up-an-coming bands.

Fiera di u Vinu – Luri, July
A lively festival celebrating the wine produced in the Cap Corse region.

A Notte di a Memoria – The Relève du Gouverneur - Bastia, July
A re-enactment of the arrival of the French governor with a light and drum parade through the streets of the citadel.

Les Nuits de la Guitare – Patrimonio, July
The amphitheatre in the village of Patrimonio is the setting for this popular festival that takes place every July and draws stars from the world of guitar, be it jazz, flamenco, blues or rock.

Porto Latino - St Florent, August
A hot Latin festival with nightly open-air concerts held in the citadel.

Festival de la Chanson/Corse Pascal Paoli – Furiani, August
Corsican singing concerts.

Festival de Musique – Erbalunga, August 
An established music festival showing off some of the greatest national and local talents.

THINGS TO SEE & DO

Bastia
Capital of Haute Corse and just a 15 minute drive from Erbalunga is Bastia, a busy town with a population of 50,000, making it the second largest town on the island. The Place St Nicolas is a pleasant spot to soak up Bastia’s Mediterranean atmosphere and with its shady trees and cafes is the social hub of the town. The Boulevard Paoli and Rue César Campinchi are the main shopping streets running parallel to the square. The old town lies south of Place St Nicolas and surrounds the old port which should not be missed. It is overlooked by the high honey-coloured Genoese Citadel (quite a climb) and bustles with harbourside bars and restaurants. Wander through the old streets behind the old port to find the Place du Marché where there is a local farmers market each morning and the church of St Jean Baptiste, Corsica's largest church is well worth a visit.

Drive around Cap Corse
Often called an island within an island, the Cap Corse is a maquis covered peninsula whose history sets it apart from the rest of the island. Tiny ports divide the east side as the western villages are sited on rugged cliffs. On the west of Cap Corse, narrow roads wind above a dramatically serrated coastline, dotted with little coves, whilst the sea washes on the rocks below and woods and maquis outline the peaks above. A complete circuit of the Cap Corse will take you about four hours (without stops) and we recommend that you always drive in a clockwise direction so that you are always in the inside lane (the road can be narrow and winding and the drops are precipitous and rather scary!).

Erbalunga
Just past Bastia, approx 1hr drive, the fishing port of Erbalunga on the eastern coast clings to a little jagged promontory, opal waves slapping against gaudy fishing boats. The pedestrianised village has many cafés and restaurants and a Genoese tower on the headland and is the home of a Jazz festival in August.​

Patrimonio
Spend a leisurely afternoon visiting a vineyard in the pretty village of Patrimonio, and tasting the superb wines. The Patrimonio region is most famous for its vineyards, much of Corsica’s best wine being produced in this area. You will find dozens of vineyards to visit and the proprietors are happy to welcome you and offer you their wines to sample. There is now a ‘route des vins’, which will lead you to all the vineyards.

St Florent
The sparkling, sheltered bay of St Florent lies between the Cap Corse and the Désert des Agriates. At first sight St Florent appears to be a bustling, attractive waterfront town, with boats, bars, excellent fish restaurants and an almost permanent game of boules in the square, but stroll into the old town and you discover a charming, ageless quarter of old houses, little shops and wine bars. There are pretty squares and quiet corners, with the sea always nearby!