Corsica

Ken Rennie

Well-Known Member
Not so much a travel guide more a flavour of this stunning island. I have visited twice once on a bicycle and secondly with my wife in a car. Cycling in Corsica requires muscles and a degree of fitness that I no longer possess and probably never have. Apart from the East coast' which is touristy, the island is mountainous with the west coast having deep indents called Calanques. The island is just less than 300 miles from the North African coast and can get extremely hot however in the mountains there are a few areas with a sub- arctic climate. I met a couple who tried to walk the mountainous spine in early June but had to get down dues to heavy snowfall. Driving is difficult, most of the roads are single track and are often perched many hundreds of feet above the sea or a very steep valley with the only barrier a 1 ft high series of bollards sometimes with a metal barrier strung between but it would never stop a car, or a bike.
The NW coast this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, beautiful but getting away from the road is next to impossible unless someone has cut a path through the brush, most of this area would defeat the toughest of off road vehicles and trying would probably land you in legal problems.
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Slightly further South brings you to stunning scenery with the bright orange rocks, this area is the Calanques de Piana
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Just a few miles inland from Marine de Porto old mule tracks link the villages and ancient bridges span the rivers, this one is Venetian
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By Corsican standards this is gentle countryside
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Just a few miles inland brings you to this kind of terrain. The villages will be linked by narrow asphalt roads but they may take a very tortuous path and walking along the old donkey tracks is pleasant
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Did I really think that I could cycle here?
We travelled South to Bonifacio perched on a crumbling clifftop. Behind the cliff is a perfect harbour
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When you get closer to the town you notice that the cliff is undercut and many of the houses are in a precarious position
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I returned at night to photograph the town and manages 1 image before the town spotlights started and ended photography as they were pointing straight at me.
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Now back along the SW coast which is a collection of stunning beaches that can almost be reached by car leaving a 2 or 3 mile walk along tracks. As you can see, no bars or restaurants so it is a get away from it all location.
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We ended up at the island capital Ajaccio and stayed for a few days while waiting for our ferry back to the French mainland. he mountains are relatively low here with the main pass, Col de Bavella, just over 4,000ft with higher mountains on both sides.

Col de Bavella sunset
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and sunrise
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The last sunset from Ajaccio
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The images are holiday snaps, trying to get to places for sunrise and back after sunset is dangerous. Wild goats and domestic pigs and cattle roam on the roads which are very narrow, totally unlit and very twisty. Driving in the dark is asking for trouble or so it seemed to me. We were there with an anti-cyclone sitting over the island, great for lounging around but the resultant quality of light was poor. I hope that you enjoy looking at a place you are unlikely to visit. Ken
 
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AlanLichty

Moderator
Stunning scenery and a very nice writeup. I have seen some stages of pro cycling races on that island and some of the road grades looked pretty tough even for the UCI pro riders. I love the sunset/sunrise shots from Col de Bavella.
 

JimFox

Moderator
Staff member
I think flavors of places are sometimes the best travel guides.

This is really great Ken, and all of the details you added were really helpful in giving a taste of that island. It's amazing just how rugged that mountain region is.
 

Ken Rennie

Well-Known Member
Stunning scenery and a very nice writeup. I have seen some stages of pro cycling races on that island and some of the road grades looked pretty tough even for the UCI pro riders. I love the sunset/sunrise shots from Col de Bavella.
Apart from the terrific difference in age and fitness between me and Pro riders my bike weighs approx 32lb (UCI 15lbs)and I carry 30lb+ of clothes, tent, food, cooking stuff and up to 7lb of water as I can't seem to find a group of helpers to deliver musettes to me when I need them. On a more serious note I may have to stop cycling as my knees are hurting me all day after even a short bike ride. I have stopped cycling this week and next and will see if the pain goes completely. If so I will hire an electric bike and see if that makes a difference. Where I live involves climbing no matter the direction, even my short 15 mile rides involve 1,000 ft of climbing. Age catching up I suppose. My bike, it now has a new frame as this one started to whip at high speed which can be frightening. It has mountain bike gears and brakes to get me up hills and stop me going down them. Ken
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JimFox

Moderator
Staff member
Apart from the terrific difference in age and fitness between me and Pro riders my bike weighs approx 32lb (UCI 15lbs)and I carry 30lb+ of clothes, tent, food, cooking stuff and up to 7lb of water as I can't seem to find a group of helpers to deliver musettes to me when I need them. On a more serious note I may have to stop cycling as my knees are hurting me all day after even a short bike ride. I have stopped cycling this week and next and will see if the pain goes completely. If so I will hire an electric bike and see if that makes a difference. Where I live involves climbing no matter the direction, even my short 15 mile rides involve 1,000 ft of climbing. Age catching up I suppose. My bike, it now has a new frame as this one started to whip at high speed which can be frightening. It has mountain bike gears and brakes to get me up hills and stop me going down them. Ken
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That’s so interesting to see Ken. That’s quite the setup. An electric bike might be a way to go to help assist on hills a bit.
 
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