We chose to go to Corsica for the following reasons:
- It was really easy and quick to get to from Southampton Airport – just two hours away.
- Our son Jonny had been there with pals and raved about the island.
- The British summer weather had been so bad that we fancied a bit of September sunshine.
So we booked flights, hotels and a hire car and my husband Pete and I headed off to Corsica for a week of walking, swimming, sunshine and fantastic food. It was so easy that we had breakfast at home in Southampton, and lunch up in the Corsican mountains, just 45 minutes away from Bastia Airport.
Two centre holiday – mountains and beaches
It was incredibly easy to get up into the mountains, and we stayed in a lovely little hotel in the Restonica Valley just outside Corte, called the Dominique Colonna. The most wonderful thing about the hotel was that it was next to a mountain stream that had crystal clear natural rock pools which were perfect for swimming in.
We asked the very helpful hotel receptionist to suggest a good walk for us and she offered a mountain hike that went up to two glacial lakes. This was a brilliant recommendation, and the views from the top were absolutely breathtaking. It took us 6 hours to get to the top lake and back again, but we took a leisurely pace and a picnic and ensured that we enjoyed every moment of the scenery and the clear mountain air.
There were some slightly more adventurous parts of the hike which involved using metal chains or ladders to help us up and down very steep bits, and we watched with utter amazement as a local man managed to carry his sheep dog up the steps with him.
We loved our time in the mountains, but after 3 nights headed over the scenic mountain roads to Calvi, avoiding the occasional wild boar on the way!
Calvi is an ancient Citadel city in the north of the island. The 4 kilometre beach is one of the best in Corsica, and the historic town itself is bustling with restaurants and quaint boutiques. The 15th century Citadel is like a little town in its own right, which is still lived in today and well worth exploring. There were loads of different restaurants to choose from, many of which had good value €20 (around £15) three course dinner menus with excellent quality fresh food.
Many people say that Corsican food is a blend of French and Italian, but I think it has a unique style all of its own. It is very wholesome using natural ingredients that are in season including seafood, wild boar, goats cheese, olives, honey and chestnuts. Indeed, the local beer is called Pietra and it's made of chestnuts!
We found that driving was ideal, and the main roads were good, but with lots of steep bends in the mountains. We also tried out the train along the coast at Calvi, which is a great service that runs along the north coast to all the different beaches and offers some spectacular scenery.
A return visit?
Definitely! Corsica is a much bigger island that we imagined, and we only saw a small part of the north, so yes, we will indeed be back. Next time we fancy a visit in May or June when apparently the cherry blossom is wonderful and the mountain streams are full with melting snow from the mountain tops. Something I would certainly love to see for myself.
We went to Corsica with very little knowledge about the island and realise now that it is a hidden treasure in the Mediterranean. An absolute must do for anyone looking for a new last minute autumn destination.
Find out more about holidays to Corsica from Southampton Airport.