Sitting strategically between the French Riviera, Sardinia, and Tuscany, Corsica blends the flavours and customs of all of these to form its own unique culture. The West coast is very rugged and windy, while the East coast with its wide stretching beaches is protected from the wind.
According to the experts, two weeks is an ideal sojourn for your luxury charter to circumnavigate this fascinating island. The traditional way for a complete circumnavigation of Corsica is eastwards, going counter-clockwise, very often from Calvi.
An island of contrasts, from rugged mountain outcrops, to tranquil broad bays and coves of golden sand, Corsica offers the charter yacht guest a dizzying array of landscapes and attractions, natural and man-made.
Romanesque chapels in Castagniccia, baroque churches in Bastia, the fortifications of Bonifacio, or the citadel of Calvi; history has left its imprint everywhere.
Prehistory gave Corsica with the Menhirs of Filitosa; the Romans taught the people the cultivation of grapes and the raising of oysters. Starting in the Middle Ages, Christianity inspired the construction of Romanesque and Baroque churches, and the Genovese built fortresses, citadels and ramparts for protection against invaders.
In modern times, its residents have built museums, preserved archaeological sites, and today, host brilliant music and theatre festivals all year round.
Corsica boasts a total coastline of 300 nautical miles (556km), and there are 12 yacht harbours, 20 secure and safe moorings near pleasant towns, with superb restaurants and historic sites, as well many more anchorages ideal for day trips. This ancient and fascinating island is separated from Sardinia to the south by the Strait of Bonifacio.
Luxury charter guests visiting Corsica will behold landscapes that are varied and awe-inspiring: from the mountainous terrain of Cap Corse, inlets lined by glowing red rocks on the Western coast, steep chalk cliffs and deep fjords in the South, to long sandy beaches on the East coast between Bastia and Solenzara.
With a climate that is temperate all year round, Corsica enjoys the highest sunshine records in France, with an average of 2,793 hours per year - that is 7.5 hours a day! Average summer temperatures normally reach a very pleasant 25°C rising to as high as 35°C in July and August with sea temperatures reaching their peak by mid-July.
The constant presence of brisk sea breezes makes Corsica an ideal charter destination for people interested in windsurfing, paragliding or trying their hand at sailingin the famed Strait of Bonifacio. Scuba diving, kayaking, fishing and jet skiing are also on offer all year round and a marvellous addition to your charter experience.
Calvi is a delightful town with Roman origins on the Northwest coast of Corsica. Considered one of Corsica's best anchorages, Calvi is also the hub of the Balagne region, known as the "Garden of Corsica" for its fertile olive groves.
Renowned for its impressive 13th-century citadel with three bastions and long ramparts, Calvi has a popular port and marina.You will find plenty of restaurants and cafés on the Quai Landry, the seafront walkway linking the marina and the port.
It is an area of sandy coves, red granite rocks, high mountain peaks and ancient villages exuding character and charm.
Ashore, explore the narrow streets of the old town or plan a more ambitious route down the Stradi di Artigani, the artisan's trail that winds through villages in the area.
Visit the Baroque church of Saint John the Baptist that contains the "Christ des Miracles" which, it is said, led to the end of the siege of the town by the Turks in 1553. Also take time to look behind the pink door to the church of Sainte-Marie-Majeure and that of the Oratory of the Brotherhood of Saint Antoine. Visit the Revellata peninsula with its remarkable seabed and head up to Notre-Dame de la Serra to enjoy its commanding views over the bay.
Gulf de Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve
Girolata is a small village tucked away on the edge of a little cove in the Golfe de Porto, where a safe anchorage can be found beneath the ramparts of a Genoese port. Inaccessible to cars, its bustling beach is easily accessible by charter yacht tender. At the end of the day, when the tourists clear out, charter guests have free reign to enjoy the sunset and pleasant vistas. When you venture ashore, locals recommend you make a point of dining on the delectable Scandola lobster plucked fresh from local waters.
Classified by UNESCO, this nature reserve is part of the Regional Natural Park of Corsica and occupies the Scandola peninsula.
Heading south-south-west, your charter yacht will stick close to the magnificent coastline of sheer red volcanic rock plunging to the sea. At Cape Revellata, there is an exceptional dive site with complex canyons, corridors and steep drop-offs and an abundance of marine life which will suit the experienced diver and novice alike.
Gulf de Dargone: Cargese
Cargèse gave asylum to Greek refugees in 1676 and still has a distinctly Greek flavour. It even has two Greek Orthodox Churches. It's a steep walk up the hill from the little port, but the patisseries and cafés at the summit are worth it!
Offering peace and picturesque vistas for charter guests, are idyllic, isolated beaches on either side of the village of Tiuccia, accessible by tender. Make sure you head to the Iles Sanguinaires at the entrance of the Gulf de Ajaccio for a memorable sunset. The impressive deep red light created by the ochre cliffs gave the islands their name (Bloody Islands), and is a "must see" during your luxury charter. Anchor overnight beneath the Genoese tower that has topped the headland at Pointe de la Parata since 1607 when it was part of the defences against barbarian attacks. Climb to the top and be rewarded with amazing views.
The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, Ajaccio is situated on one of the most beautiful gulfs in the world, protected on three sides by breath-taking mountains. Ajaccio is noteworthy for its old town, cafés and the views over its glorious bay.
Of course, no trip is complete without a visit to Napoleon's birthplace, Maison Bonaparte, which is an imposing residence, and now a museum devoted to the exploits and achievements of the island's most famous son. There is also the Fesch Museum, founded on the collection of Napoleon's uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, which houses an impressive collection of paintings by Italian Masters.
A lively fishing harbour, Propriano lies in the narrowest part of the Valinco Golf. Charter guests will find a thriving commercial centre with numerous stores making it a bustling tourist town, close to excellent beaches, including Plage de Lido.
Located in Central Corsica, Corte is an historic town, but also has a lively side as it is home to more than 4,000 students attracted to the island's university. Built on a rocky outcrop and overlooked by a citadel, the upper town is full of character with old houses on narrow cobbled streets.
Home of the freedom fighter Pascal Paoli, Corte is also home to the new Museum of Corsica, repository of the island's arts and archaeological heritage, perched on a cliff in the revamped 15th-century citadel. www.musee-corse.com
Set at the heart of the Regional Nature Park of Corsica, at the foot of some of the island's highest peaks, Corte is the perfect starting point for many day excursions onshore, from serious hiking to leisurely strolls.
From Corte you can follow the heritage trail that takes you on a visit of the old town. Climb up to the Belvédère, which has beautiful panoramic views over the valleys of Restonica and Tavignanu. Explore the citadel, built in the 15th century, and the Church of the Annunciation with its ornate interior. Climb to the peaks of "U Capu Tafunatu" and "A Paglia Orba" in the Niolu area. Admire lakes Melu and Capitellu at the end of the Restonica valley (listed as a Conservation Area).
Filitosa and Palaggiu
The mysterious stone menhir civilisations at Filitosa and Palaggiu date back to 2,500BC. Today, Filitosa is a major tourist attraction. More remote is the dusty red path that leads to Palaggiu, near Tizzano, which consists of a site of 258 sculpted granite megaliths from the Bronze Age.
The historic city of Bonifacio is located at the end of fjord-like inlet in the South of Corsica and is considered one of the most picturesque natural harbours in the Mediterranean. Clean and deep, bustling with ferries and charter yachts, Bonifacio is the ideal spot to moor for a day, or overnight stay.
The town is home to medieval houses and churches on narrow, winding streets in the haute ville, which is perched on a limestone ledge 200 feet above the sea. Its natural port offers a wide selection of restaurants and shops. High above, the Citadel has a more exclusive array of restaurants and boutiques.
Located on the southern tip of Corsica, Bonifacio is the ideal location from which to depart to explore northern Sardinia and the beautiful La Maddalena National Park.
Often called the "city of salt" because it was built on dried salt marshes, this Genoese port is surrounded by some of the island's best (and busiest) stretches of sand, including the famous and very beautiful, Palombaggia and Santa Guilia. Porto Vechhio is considered the "St-Tropez" of Corsica, a highly fashionable tourist resort where visitors can relax, party the night away, or find a remote cove to anchor and breathe in the scent of pine forests which stretch to the edge of the sand.
Porto Vecchio a charming destination as well as a great base for exploring both the neighbouring islands and the mountainous alpine interior of Corsica.
The port of Bastia, on the North East coast of Corsica just below Cap Corsica, is the commercial centre of the island, a bustling city of 40,000 inhabitants. The main attractions are the place St Nicolas, Terra Vecchia, the old quarter, and Terra Nova, the area surrounding the Citadelle.
The port of Macinaggio is the Northern most harbour on the East coast of Corsica. Macinaggio owes its name to its windmills and is the largest port on Cap Corse, once used by the Romans as a military port. Today, Macinaggio has world-class facilities and services catering to visiting yachts. Well-protected from prevailing winds, the port has 2,000m of quays and a range of modern facilities and a repair yard, fuel and other services. Now providing 585 berths, the marina can accommodate boats up to 50m in length.
Follow the path marked out with Genoese towers that begins at Macinaggio beach and runs along the protected coastline, passing by Tamarone Bay and the protected zone of Capandula. Or travel by boat across to the Finocchiarola islands nature reserve, a group of three small islands that are blessed with prolific wildlife and natural beauty.
This chic tourist town in the North West of Corsica is a laid-back place with its fair share of quality restaurants. Saint-Florent offers proximity to the famous Patrimonio vineyards and Saleccia Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. Onshore, stroll the charming quarter of ancient homes, wine bars (try the local muscat) and tiny shops. Linger to observe locals playing petanque in the square or take your yacht's tender to Loto beach, with its soft, silvery sand lapped by turquoise sea.
L'Île Rousse derives its name from the Île de la Pietra, an islet of red granite that affords excellent views of the town. Originally founded by Pascal Paoli as a protected port to attack the Genoese, its main feature is a beautiful central square and abundant plane trees that keep the town cool.
In Ile Rousse, tour around the market place with its 21 columns and take a stroll along the Marinella to visit a traditional coffee making plant. At Aregno, you can admire the church of the Trinity of San Giovanni, a remarkable Roman work of art, decorated with magnificent statues.
Corsica Facts & Stats
• There are many stunning beaches in Corsica. Among the most appealing are the southernmost beaches of Tamaricciu, Rondinara (an almost-full circle of sand) and Palombaggia, near Porto-Vecchio, with smooth pink rocks in Dalí-desert shapes, turquoise waters and white sand.
• Corsica is one of the few regions of France that retains its own language in everyday usage: Corsican, which is more closely related to Italian than to French. These days, French dominates the media and commerce, and today it is estimated that only 50% of the population has some sort of proficiency in Corsican.
• From the mountains to the plains and sea, many ingredients play a role. Game such as wild boar is popular. There also is seafood and river fish such as trout. Delicacies such as ficatellu (also named asficateddu), coppa, ham (prizuttu), lonzu are made from Corsican pork (porcu nustrale). Cheeses like brocciu, casgiu merzu, casgiu veghju are made from goat or sheep milk. Chestnuts are the main ingredient in the making ofpolenta. A variety of alcohol also exists ranging from aquavita (brandy), red and white Corsican wines (Vinu Corsu), muscat wine (plain or sparkling), and the famous "Cap Corse" apéritif produced by Mattei.
• Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor and military leader, was born in Ajaccio, Corsica in 1769 to a notable Italian family, one year after the island was transferred to France by the Republic of Genoa.
• One other name stands out on Corsica: Pascal Paoli (1725-1807), whose name features on street and building. He was a patriot and leader, crucial in the battle for the independence of Corsica and to this day is revered as a Saint. His actions led Corsica to 14 years of independence between 1755 and 1769.