Hints and tips


Posted: Sat, Aug 2, 2008, 12:28

I've just returned from a couple of weeks in Corsica spending time in the mountains around Corte and on the beaches between Ille Rouse and Calvi. I thought I'd share a few things I learnt.
1) Money.
Corsica is expensive! The Sterling to Euro rate is bad enough but everything on the Island is pricey. Expect soft drinks in bars to cost €2-3, icecreams the same. A lot of campsites don't take card payments and it was costing €40-50 a night for a family of 5 with 2 small tents and 1 car. The big supermarkets have the best prices if you can store food. Restaurant set menus are good value and but typically start from €15. Calvi is expensive compared to Ille Rousse or Algajola.
2) Language.
English is not a widely spoken as in other European holiday destinations. Be prepared to use French (or Italian). Just speaking English louder and slower is not going to help!
3) Getting there.
Now that Easyjet fly direct they're they cheapest option but if like me you live a long way from Gatwick consider a cheap flight to Nice and then catching the ferry (SNCM or Corsica Ferries)
4) Transport.
The rail link between Ille Rouse and Ponte Leccia is running again.
The roads are a lot better than 20 years ago but the Corsicans still drive like lunatics! Mind you they're not much better in Nice. Police speed traps were common place.
If you're planning to explore the upper section of the Restonica Valley at Corte there is a cheap (€4 return) bus from the Info centre 4km into the valley right to the top carpark. A much better idea than risking your wing mirrors and paintwork on a very congested and narrow word. You also get to learn a wide range of Corsican profanities from the bus driver!
5) Weather
The beaches may be sunny but the mountains are another matter. Mid afternoon thunderstorms are normal and can be torrential. Don't leave your washing out or tent open. If you are planning a days walk get up early and take waterproofs.
6) Canyoning
A must do activity and we had a superb day with this organisation:
By the end of the day you'll be doing back-flips off 3m drops into the river.
7) Campsites
The best ones I found were Camping Les Castors in Calvi (smallish but with a great pool), Camping Chez Bartho in Corte (very quiet and close to town).
Camping Bodri near Ille Rousse was close to the beach but big and noisy. Camping Alivetu in Corte was ok but the loos were very smelly and dark.
8) Toilets
It may be obvious but not all loos are the same and Corsica still has plenty of the traditional French squat loos. Toilet paper is not usually provided.

27 years after my first trip to the island Corsica is still a magical place and the first whiff of the Maquis was enough to bring all the memories back. It was 15 years since my last visit, it won't be that long until the next.