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Corsica getting started

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© Lonely Planet Publications
20

Getting Started
Corsica is dubbed L’île de beauté (the island of beauty), and it’s no wonder
why. With everything from mountain ranges to idyllic beaches and secluded
villages, Corsica offers a kaleidoscopic palette of options in a relatively small
area. There’s never a dull moment!
For outdoor enthusiasts, the range of scenery and activities is almost
countless. From sea kayaking to trekking, canyoning to diving, there is
barely a sport or activity, whether on land or on the sea, that isn’t catered for
here. But Corsica allows for far more than just hot-weather beach holidays
and adrenaline rushes – there’s a wealth of history, culture and tradition
to explore, too. You could also set yourself a gastronomical route full of
delectable surprises.
Although there are bus and train systems that cover the island, a rental car
is definitely the order of the day for anyone who really wants to explore (delving into hidden valleys or hunting down hard-to-reach beaches). Although
tourist trails are well trodden, it’s easy to escape the crowds and tailor your
itinerary to suit your own tastes.

WHEN TO GO
See climate charts (p254)
for more information.

Hmmm…When the maquis is in full blossom in May and June, the scents are
memorable and the vivid hues unforgettable. This is by far the best season to
explore Corsica. The weather is sunny without being stifling, the countryside
bursts with spring flowers, the locals are more hospitable and the flood of
summer tourists, largely dictated by the French vacances scolaires (school
holidays), has yet to crash over the island.
Most French people hit the road in July and August, so those two months –
in which prices soar, tempers flare and the island broils – are best avoided.

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT…
„ Patience – this is island time, after all
„ Hiking boots – even if you’re not a serious hiker, you won’t be able to resist the temptation of

a few walks
„ Detailed road maps to tackle those nerve-racking hinterland roads
„ Your driving licence and car documents if driving, along with appropriate car insurance
„ An adaptator plug for electrical appliances (see the boxed text, p251)
„ Lonely Planet’s French Phrasebook
„ An appetite for pungent cheese and artery-clogging charcuterie
„ Your C-card if you’re a diver, as well as a medical examination certificate from a doctor (man-

datory for diving in France)
„ A sleeping bag if you’re planning on camping or staying at gîtes d’étape
„ Snorkellin...
lonelyplanet.com GETTING STARTED •• Costs & Money
Corsica is dubbed L’île de beauté (the island of beauty), and it’s no wonder
why. With everything from mountain ranges to idyllic beaches and secluded
villages, Corsica offers a kaleidoscopic palette of options in a relatively small
area. There’s never a dull moment!
For outdoor enthusiasts, the range of scenery and activities is almost
countless. From sea kayaking to trekking, canyoning to diving, there is
barely a sport or activity, whether on land or on the sea, that isn’t catered for
here. But Corsica allows for far more than just hot-weather beach holidays
and adrenaline rushes – there’s a wealth of history, culture and tradition
to explore, too. You could also set yourself a gastronomical route full of
delectable surprises.
Although there are bus and train systems that cover the island, a rental car
is definitely the order of the day for anyone who really wants to explore (delv-
ing into hidden valleys or hunting down hard-to-reach beaches). Although
tourist trails are well trodden, it’s easy to escape the crowds and tailor your
itinerary to suit your own tastes.
WHEN TO GO
Hmmm…When the maquis is in full blossom in May and June, the scents are
memorable and the vivid hues unforgettable. This is by far the best season to
explore Corsica. The weather is sunny without being stifling, the countryside
bursts with spring flowers, the locals are more hospitable and the flood of
summer tourists, largely dictated by the French vacances scolaires (school
holidays), has yet to crash over the island.
Most French people hit the road in July and August, so those two months –
in which prices soar, tempers flare and the island broils – are best avoided.
Getting Started
The core of the peak season is from mid-July to mid-August, when Corsica
is chock-a-block with visitors. Flights and ferries are full to bursting, too. It’s
imperative to make reservations well in advance if you’re planning to visit
the island during this period.
Another good season is autumn, from September to mid-October. It’s
refreshingly peaceful and the weather is usually warm. Most places are open,
without being overwhelmed by the crowds. It’s generally comfortable for
land-based outdoor activities such as walking, horse riding and canyoning.
As for water sports, the water temperature is most favourable from June to
October, and can reach 25°C in August.
Between late October and springtime, the island goes into snooze mode
and most tourist facilities are closed, which is a bit of a shame since the
climate is usually mild and sunny in winter, at least on the coast (it can be
downright chilly inland). It’s a good season for photographers, with perfect
light and enchanting hues. Some chambres d’hôtes are open year-round, as
are certain hotels in the main cities, which means that with some preplan-
ning and your own wheels you can easily get around the island, and have
the whole place to yourself! Winter is also the best season if you’re hunting
for that perfect charcuterie – believe us!
Walkers on the GR20 and other routes, the elderly and those travelling
with children will surely prefer the less sweltering months of May, June and
September, when roads and amenities are also less congested. Serious hikers
should take note that the snow lingers until as late as mid-June on some
sections of the GR20.
You may also prefer to organise your trip to coincide with one of the many
festivals that fill the Corsican calendar – Easter is a particular highlight. For
more details see p256 .
COSTS & MONEY
Though travelling in Corsica may not be cheap, neither is it prohibitively
expensive. As a general rule, you can expect to pay at least €70 to €200 for a
decent double room in high season (often more in August). You will have
to pay the same minimum rates if you are on your own, as there are very few
single rooms. Camping, sleeping in off-the-beaten track chambres d’hôtes or
renting a gîte rural for a week can be good-value accommodation options.
Sites charge an average of €6/3/3 per person/tent/car. If you’re solo, staying
at gîtes d’étape can be another well-priced option (about €13 per night); most
people think they are geared only to hikers, but all travellers are welcome.
The interior of the island is also significantly cheaper than the coast. While
Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio rank as the most expensive cities in Corsica,
the Alta Rocca, about 30km to the north, is much more affordable and can
be used as a convenient base.
Another key factor to consider is the wild difference in costs between the
high season (July and August) and the rest of the year. During these peak
months room prices on the coast can be jacked up by 100% in many cases.
The good news though is that even the most popular tourist places, such as
Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio, drop their prices dramatically out of season.
You’ll find excellent deals, and fewer people, in the shoulder seasons either
side of summer: in April, May, June, September and October, which can
result in some real bargains in accommodation and transport. Not all tourist
facilities are open, but you can easily get by.
The cost of eating out is variable, depending on the location. Most res-
taurants offer tourist menus for about €15. However, it is often better to
choose a good restaurant and have one good course rather than a mediocre
complete meal.
© Lonely Planet Publications
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT…
Patience – this is island time, after all
Hiking boots – even if you’re not a serious hiker, you won’t be able to resist the temptation of
a few walks
Detailed road maps to tackle those nerve-racking hinterland roads
Your driving licence and car documents if driving, along with appropriate car insurance
An adaptator plug for electrical appliances (see the boxed text, p251 )
Lonely Planet’s French Phrasebook
An appetite for pungent cheese and artery-clogging charcuterie
Your C-card if you’re a diver, as well as a medical examination certificate from a doctor (man-
datory for diving in France)
A sleeping bag if you’re planning on camping or staying at gîtes d’étape
Snorkelling gear if you’re anticipating heavy beach time
A set of smart casual clothes: grimy T-shirts, shorts and dusty sandals don’t cut the mustard in
bars and restaurants in some chic coastal cities
Maximum-protection sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat
Some paperback books in English (poor availability in Corsica)
See climate charts ( p254 )
for more information.
HOW MUCH?
Chambres d’hôtes €50-90
Brocciu €8
Car hire per week €250
Platter of charcuterie €12
An hour’s parking in
Ajaccio €1.50
LONELY PLANET
INDEX
Litre of petrol €1.20
Litre of water €0.50
Bottle of Pietra beer
€2.50
Souvenir T-shirt €18
Pizza €7
20 21
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