Named after the islets that blush a deep russet red in the sunset, L'lle Rousse is a laid-back seaside town with a central square, lively cafés, restaurants and ice-cream parlours. With one of the warmest microclimates in Corsica, thanks to the sheltering Balagne hills that surround the town, and three gently shelving large beaches in close proximity, L'Ile Rousse is an ideal spot for a summer holiday.
The town beach of L'Ile Rousse can be very busy in the peak of the summer and has excellent facilities with cafés, restaurants and sunloungers lining the beach. If you're prepared to wander a little further, you can generally find a quiet spot. Another benefit of its size is that it is generally patrolled. It's a fine yellow sand beach and the water is a gorgeous clear blue. There are good opportunities here for water sports.
Just west of L’Ile Rousse, Bodri Plage is an unspoilt beach, a walk through the maquis and over the railway line. The walk is worth it, as the beach has almost white sand and a turquoise sea.
Baie de Giunchetu
A short walk further west, around the rocky Punta di Genebre you will find this beach. It is slightly less picturesque, but larger.
A celebration of the sea held in L'Ile Rousse every May. In addition to fish and seafood produce, there are many activities for children as well as scientific stands, competitions, exhibitions and workshops.
Estivoce in Pigna
Estivoce is a celebration of Corsican music and arts with concerts of polyphonic music from June to September with many of the celebrations being in July.
Foire de l'Amandier in Aregno
Held in the Balagne village of Aregno every August, the Foire de l’Amandier includes tastings, painting exhibitions, events for children and cooking contests all based around the almond and its trees.
Fiera di l’Artigiani in Felicetu
The craftsmen of the Strada di l’Artigiani congregate to celebrate their crafts every August.
Fiera di u Sumere in Sant’Antonino
Celebrating the donkey in August, the only form of transport in the cobbled winding streets of this mountain village. Take a donkey ride around the village to view the picturesque surroundings and magnificent views.
Rencontres Polyphoniques in Calvi
Polyphonic singing is at the heart of Corsican culture every September in Calvi and singers from around the world perform in the citadel at the Rencontres Polyphoniques.
THINGS TO SEE & DO
L’Ile Rousse old town
Wander the streets and make sure you take a trip to the market held every morning in a majestic covered market place. The produce is local and fresh and includes fish, vegetables, local honey, charcuterie and cheeses. There are ample restaurants to choose from in the narrow streets and around the main square beneath the plane trees and the silver sand of L’Ile Rousse beach is very tempting.
'Le Petit Train'
For the young or the old take a trip on 'Le Petit Train' a tourist train of L’Ile Rousse which will show you the sites at a leisurely pace.
Visit Calvi and the Citadel
Calvi's social life focuses on the many restaurants and cafés of the quai landry which is a large seafront walkway that links the marina and the port effortlessly. To get the best possible feel of the town, this is the place to be! A walk up through the narrow passageways off quai landry will take you to rue Clemenceau where you will find an array of restaurants and souvenir shops plenty. Further walking will present the Ste-Marie-Majeure, built in 1774.
L’lle Rousse to Calvi by train
This regular service allows you to explore the coastline to the west of L’lle Rousse, stopping at all of the beaches en route. The line, built in the 1880s and 1890s hugging the coast is undoubtedly one of the world's most scenic railways. The complete journey takes approximately 50 minutes, and depending on the time of year travelling, there are between five and 10 return journeys a day.
This is the village where it is believed that Christopher Columbus's mysterious mother was born. The village has a couple of charming restaurants and sports facilities. You can enjoy pony trekking through the Balagne hills to discover the area’s true natural beauty.
Explore the mountain villages of Haute-Balagne
Drive on the mountain roads that meander up to the fortress villages clinging to the hillsides and take in the astounding views across the maquis-carpeted mountains down to the coastline below. You can also follow the craft trail 'Strada di l'Artigiani' and sample the local specialities en route.
Explore the narrow streets of Sant'Antonino, the oldest inhabited village in Corsica and labelled as 'one of the most beautiful villages in France'. The village affords 360° views of the surrounding countryside and coast, has several restaurants, a local produce shop and the famous ‘maison du citron’ (run by Mr Antonino), which serves excellent citron pressé.