We woke up early and since we had nothing left to make a breakfast and there was no service in this village (Not even a bakery) we drove to Corte.
Corte is an amazing city. It’s a university city; it’s full of life. There are cafe and restaurants but they are not filled by tourist. They are filled by students.
After breakfast we headed to the Fortress, walked around it to the view point.
We decided to do a small section of the “Mare a Mare nord” trail in the Tavignano valley which start a few blocks from the Fortress.
It was not an overly difficult hike but we could feel it was our third hike in three days. We walked for maybe 5km along the right side of the valley, slowly gaining altitude up to a view point. It was a big rock above the river offering a view on Corte (3km in straight line) below and on the rest of the valley above.
Since we had not much to eat. We just turned around and went for lunch in Corte.
A relaxed day, visiting Corte and its surrounding.
We are back to Santa Lucia di Mercurio for one more night.
We left Quenza very early, passed through the Col de Bavella at sunrise in direction of the city of Corte.
We took advantage of the good weather forecast to do another hike today. We were recommended a hike near Corte in the Restonica valley.
The road to get there, you know it, was narrow and was going up for 14km until a parking area.
From there, the trail is very rocky as this used to be a glacier valley. The trail later split in 2; a trail on each side of the spring. On left side, the trail followed the side of the mountain while on the right side, there are a set of staircase and chains to help pass the steepest sections up to Melo Lake.
This lake is located at 1711m high in altitude and is frozen 5 to 6 months per years.
We continued our hike to a second lake located much higher. That one is frozen 8 months per years.
I would not swim in it! The fog came down from the mountain, it was time to go down.
There were 2 sections where a chain was installed to help hikers. Tina succeeded without tears but without a smile. 😉
Excellent hike with totally different scenery compared to the others hikes we did in Corsica.
We then headed to our AirBnB in Ste Lucia de Mercurio; a very small village located about 14km from corte, high in the mountain.
We got there, there was nobody home. There was a little box with a numeric combination hiding a key. We were not given any code… We were about to call the phone number provided by the owner when another couple arrived. They also rented a room in the same house; they arrived the day before and already had the key to get inside. Good timing, we could get to our room without issue. The couple was German and really nice and funny.Unfortunately, no time to practise my German…
We later cook diner together and found out we did the same hike, same day as them.
This morning, we bought some baguettefrom the baker who is driving from home to home in the village. Excellent timing for our breakfast and our scheduled hike.
Our hike started from the Col de Bavella parking lot.A steep uphill to start with through a forest of huge pine trees.
We navigated between huge rocks shaped like needles (aiguille) while following the yellow marking on the rocks.
One section was steep enough to have a chain installed in order to help hikers descend. Tina didn’t like it, not at all. We managed to pass the section mostly without the help of the chain. (Not without some tears)
The climb was not over yet. We reached the first summit about 30 min later. This is steep and narrow (like needles). It is actually the only one we can climb without a rope. The fog was coming in as I reached the summit; the view was only partially visible.
The trail went up a little more passing on the left side of the next 2 needles before heading down in the valley.
This is where we reached the famous GR20 trail with its red and white marking heading back to our parking while going around the mountain range.
Beautiful landscape. Highly recommended day hike.
We headed back to our AirBnB in Quenza.
We had breakfast at the hotel, and we then walked to the Citadel to visit the old town. For a small fee, we visited the King Aragon staircase which is carved within the limestone cliff and allow access to the sea level from the upper town. It’s very steep and a good workout to go back up, especially with a backpack having 2.5litres of water in it 🙂
We also visited the bastion of the fortresses. There was 2 or 3 level of rooms; like an underground bunker 😉 This area also gave us an exceptional view on the city. It worth the 3.50€.
We then went on a boat cruise for an hour. We visited the nearby “calenques”, some bays, went inside the mountain through a narrow opening and followed the cliff on which the city was built. We enjoyed it.
We then drove north in direction of Porto Vecchio and stopped at the Balistra beach on the way there. It may be our last day at the beach as we are heading toward the highest mountains of the island, far from the coast. We enjoyed every moment of it before heading to Quenza. It was much colder up there.
Today, we burned some more gas and some of the tire tread too. We were recommended a road going through the mountain while avoiding the main road as much as possible.
We left our AirBnB in direction of Ajaccio. We took the National road but quicly left it for a secondary road heading to Pilla which is sitting just above an artificial lake. We returned to the National and then we followed the D55 road toward the coast (Acqua Doria) and then we followed the coast south in direction of Porto Pollo. We stopped at Cupabia beach for about 2 hours. Then headed to Porto Pollo, Propriano, and we stopped at Sartène for a little visit of the old town.
On secondary roads, we cannot exceed 30-50kmh while on the national, its usually 70 to 80kmh average. Even if I would push the car (rev the motor between each curve and break just on time)… it would still be too slow for locales. Yeah, a suzuki swift managed to pass me and a Jeep wrangler was almost pushing me from behind. He obviously would be driving faster without me on its way. Sometime, stopping for a few pictures sounds like a good idea.
There was a rally car championship this week in Corsica, on the road to Bonifacio, we saw nearly 60 modified Porsche and Ferarri driving north to their next stage.
We arrived at our Hotel in Bonifacio, dropped a few things and we walked toward the Bonifacio fortresses just on time to capture a few shot at the sunset.
We left our paradise studio in Ota, drove to the Calenques of Piana. We went for a short hike. (You remember, this is the place were the rocks are sculted with strange forms). It’s also were the road gets very narrow and usually gets crowded by tourists walking on the street with their cameras.
Well, its October, all tourists are gone. We walked the road as well and took plenty of pictures 🙂
Next stop was the Capu Rosso, a hike on a peninsula with the Mediterranean sea on each side. The sky was getting cloudy but we left on that trail going down for the first 1.5km then the climb started and the rain soon after. We had to turn around half way up as the rain was making the rock slippery. Still, we took a few good pictures and indeed the rain stopped by the time we get back to the car!
Before leaving the area, we made a stop at “Plage d’Arone”. This beach is located at the end of this road. It has a few restaurant, camping, and a beautiful white sand beach.
We left the beach around 17h30 and headed for our next AirBnB, booked the night before. It was located between Sargone and Ajaccio, high in the mountains. (Glad we had a GPS because it was dark when we arrived.)
Today is our lazy day. We got up late, had a nice breakfast on our balcony watching the shade slowly disapear from the mountain right in front of us.
We walked the street from our AirBnB to porto’s city, its port and we saw its beach.
We drove the car through the mountain to Evisa. On the way up, a group of 30 or more mountain goats was slowly walking in the middle of the road (Did I mention was already narrow enough?)… later there were cows, pigs and wild boar on the street.
From Evisa, we went on a random hike. There was a sign explaining about chestnut trees growing in the region. It was mostly flat and compared to our previous hike, it was quite boring. We turned around and went back to Evisa for a smoothie before driving down the mountain.
Today, our plan was to complete a relatively difficult hike offering a more than rewarding view.
We identified a good candidate; a 1300m peak with view on the sea and surrounding mountains. It’s called the Capu d’Ortu. The trail starts near the city of Piana.
To get there, we left our AirBnB in Porto/Ota and headed toward Piana on a narrow road. Yeah those road where the 2nd gear is almost too fast to take the curve, there is zero visibility in the curve, there is nearly just enough space for 2 cars; buses take both lanes to take the curve and a few rocks on the side of the road supposed to prevent the car from jumping 500m below.
The hike was amazing. It started like any hike; going across a forest, along the side of a spring, following the ridge up in the mountain. It started getting interesting, once the trail left the forest to get on bare rock. The view was getting better and better as we went up. This region is also called the Calenques. It has strange rock formation sculpted by rain, wind, and time. Those were visible up there and with some imagination, you can spot forms of dog or eagle heads…
Many cairn (rock on top of others rocks) help us follow the path through this maze, up to the summit.
Tina is afraid of heights but she managed to reach the summit. As expected, the view was rewarding. The way down was as challenging as the way up.
Back in Piana, we headed for the beach, a 3km, one lane road, going down the side of the cliff to the sea level. Interestingly, there was no kind of protection on the side of the road…
After a nice meal in one of Piana’s restaurant, we headed back to Porto/Ota to relax in our AirBnB.
We visited Ile Rousse, its port and its beaches and headed on the road to Calvi.
Calvi is very nice. It has a port and right above, on the tip of the hill was built the Citadel, its cathedrale and the oldest part of the city.
From Calvi, to Porto, the road gets challenging. Its going from valley to mountain top and down into another valley a few times. There was parking spot on the side of the road anywhere there was a view that worth stopping to capture it.
We arrived in Porto/Ota at our AirBnB. It’s a small studio, but fully equipped with a view on the mountains.
We had breakfast and left for a day hike along the north shore of Corsica, near St-Florent. We got good tips from our AirBnB host to reach a secret parking 3km west of St-Florent beaches. As expected, the road was in bad shape but we managed not to break or scratch the car.
We followed the shore in direction of the Lodo beach. The first section is mostly flat but never in straight line. The view is amazing. We had to remove our shoes to cross a 50cm deep river to continue on the trail. We finally stopped 2km before the prestigious Lodo beach (likely full of tourist) to instead opt for a smaller one that made us think about the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. There are no roads to get there, the only way is through that 16km hike in total.
Next objective was to reach Ile Rousse, located on the other side of the mountains (Desert des Agriates). Trying to follow the locals behing the wheel of a Citroen C3 Diesel, I was feeling like in a Go-Kart. A Fiat 500 in front, an Audi behind me. Stay focus; it’s super narrow and there is always a Cliff or a bridge after each curve.
We left the Hotel early and had breakfast. A Cappuccino always helps to get rid of jet lag! (Especially since I never drink coffee)
We quickly visited Bastia port area before getting on the road for Cap Corse. ( That’s the narrow portion at the north of the island.)
We started with the east side first and Tina’stomach quickly got used to Corsica’s twisting roads, and me to driving on what I beleived was narrows roads…
We stopped for a hike on the “Sentier des douaniers”. The road to get there was not in good conditions but still feasible with a small car. The trail was nice and easy; it was alternating between beaches, hills and cliffs; with constant view on the sea. We turned around half way through due to time restriction.
From there the road is crossing the mountain to get on the west coast. That is were the road get narrow and really twisted. It’s almost impossible to pass the 3rd gear (or 50kmh) for the remaining 70km
There was a group of Porsche (30+) who apprently enjoyed those roads as much as me …but it seems I was going too slow for them. 🙂
Nonza was amazing to visit. This city was built on a cliff and spaces between houses are just wide enough to walk the stairs. It was like a maze. From the tower, we can see the village from above.
We bought some beer and headed to our AirBnB located in Oletta. A nice valley surrounded by huge mountains.
The overnight flight from Montreal to Paris CDG went well. We arrived in the morning and our flight to Bastia was end of day. We had half day to get lost in Paris.
We figured out the correct train ticket required to get to Gare du Nord and the subway to get to Montmartre. We spent our time exploring the area on foot without forgetting to taste a crêpe .
Back in CDG, we are boarding our flight to Bastia.
We landed in Bastia, got our luggage and rental car. We drove to Bastia, dropped our bags in the room and still had energie to go out for a beer.
We are already enjoying the vacation 🙂