Friends. Spoiler alert, you don’t have to read ahead, I’ll just tell you. If you EVER get a chance to travel to Corsica, DO IT. I was lucky enough to travel around this French island recently with two fun friends, Janie and Annette! We stayed for 6 nights and road tripped around the entire island during that time. The food, people and scenery all made for an unforgettable vacation. I really want to go back. Like yesterday.
Our vacation basically goes like this…. beach, pizza & gelato, shop, eat, sleep, repeat.
Before heading to Corsica, Janie and I flew to Copenhagen to visit my best friend, Annette, who lives there. (Photos of Copenhagen coming soon!) We arrived at the Bastia airport around 11:00am on Friday. We picked up our rental car… automatic, please! None of us drive stick and there was no way we were learning on those windy roads! Our first meal in Corsica was the most delicious salad and pizza at a little shop not far from the airport. We should have taken more time to learn a little French before our trip, because we quickly found out that English was not very widely spoken. Nonetheless, the people were very friendly and patient with us as we struggled to order. I kind of enjoy the challenge of it 🙂
We drove about 2 hours to our hotel and settled by the pool for the afternoon. Janie and I went into full vacation mode: we sat at the bar and treated ourselves to a Nutella and banana crepe chased by a vacation beverage- a gin fizz for me and a mojito for her 🙂
For dinner we drove and found the restaurant 37.2 right on the beach, Plage de Cala Rossa to be exact. We sat at a table right on the beach with the most beautiful oceanside view. We ordered delicious seafood dishes- shrimp ceviche, crab and spring rolls– and wine of course! Again, the people who worked there were so friendly and fun. Our waiter, Roman, taught us a French phrase we’d use for the rest of the trip. “Chin Chin!” (“Cheers!”)
The next morning we drove into the town of Porto-Vecchio to have some breakfast. We walked around and did a little shopping and made our first purchases. The towns all over Corsica are so charming and beautiful. We then started our short drive to Bonifacio. (And stopped at our first beach on the way, of course!)
Onto the next city…
Bonifacio was our favorite spot! Our hotel was in the perfect location near the harbor and very walkable to the city. This part of Bonifacio is at sea level where large yachts, shops, and restaurants line the harbor. Then as you can start walking up, up, up and rest of the city sits high on the rocky coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s worth the steps! Here’s Annette halfway…
For dinner….a charcuterie board, mushroom pasta, pesto gnocchi and lasagna. And wine. 🙂 We wandered around, shopped, ate gelato, and looked at the crazy fancy yachts on the harbor.
Since we loved this spot so much we decided to stay for awhile before making the drive to our next city. We picked up breakfast and snacks for the day at the local grocery store and found some steps in the city to sit and eat and people watch.
Off the coast of Bonifacio are the uninhabited Lavezzi Islands with good spots for swimming and snorkeling. They offer boat tours from the harbor, so we grabbed our picnic lunch and snorkel gear that we got at the grocery store (we’re real serious about it!) and boarded. The islands were beautiful and I snorkeled for the first time. We found a beautiful little beach to swim, nap and enjoy lunch. The color of the water is just stunning! Of course the photos don’t do it justice.
One thing we learned: we can pound an entire bag of potato chips in one beach sitting. #vacationdiet
An unexpected surprise on the return trip… being invited to come up to the cabin and steer the tour boat. I will not argue with that. I think they had pity on us since we were the only English speaking people on the boat and had no clue what was going on 🙂
After our Lavezzi Island adventure it was unfortunately time to bid farewell to Bonifacio. (If -WHEN!- I go back to Corsica I’d spend more than one night here!) We hopped in the car and began our longest drive of the trip (about 2 1/2 hours) to the capital, Ajaccio.
We stayed at a Best Western and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived and received keys for an apartment instead of a normal room. Upgrade! Our hotel was right on the water which we walked along into town. I hate to say it but this particular city didn’t impress us too much — good thing we spent the extra time at the last stop. Maybe we just missed the fun, cute part! We walked around for awhile trying to find a place that was actually open for dinner! We landed at a place and got (surprise!) pizza and salad. Deeee-lish. We also tried the local beer, Pietra. We’re fans. 🙂
We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and then continued on our way because we were excited to get into the mountains. We left Ajaccio and drove to Corte. It was the first time we got away from the coast and it did not disappoint! We all took motion sickness meds before getting in the car because we knew we’d hit some windy roads and we’re getting old, ha!
We decided that during our 6 night stay we would splurge on one hotel and this one was it! Guys. It was beautiful! The hotel has a river that runs directly behind it. You can swim in the pool or the river. There’s even a little tent so you can get a massage out by the river! We would have stayed there for a week if we could.
Upon arriving, we relaxed by the river and ordered off the hotel’s restaurant menu. We made our best guesses of what we wanted from the French menu and chose a couple of snacks. Thankfully we guessed wisely and got a charcuterie board and a caprese salad plus eggplant. Chin chin!
Let’s just say we demolished it. This meal was one of my highlights. Sharing food with good friends when you’re not rushed and can just enjoy it all = my happy place.
Annette read online that people will drive along the river then park their cars on the side of the road, climb down the rocks to the river and swim. This is the only point on our vacation that I almost had a nervous breakdown. I got to a narrow spot where two cars were not able to safely pass and there was a rock wall on my right and a drop off to the left. Drivers were having to back up and pull to the side and let others pass. I did not like that one bit. But… we drove a few kilometers and pulled over. We laced up our sneakers to hike down along the rocks then camped out for awhile on the river. The water was FREEZING. But very refreshing and crystal clear and beautiful!
After our river adventure (don’t worry, I made it back down the windy roads to the hotel OK) we got ready to venture into town. The little town of Corte is beautiful. It sits up high and is surrounded by incredible mountain views.
You can’t lose with this food! We found a restaurant with good reviews and ordered lamb and two penne pasta dishes. One with prawns (this dish was no joke!) and another with chestnuts. So yum! Our waitress, Isadora, was so helpful and sweet. I literally got stung in the neck (?!) by a bee during the meal and she brought me vinegar to put on it, ha!
You may have noticed me talking a lot about food, but this vacation seemed to lend itself to trying new Mediterranean dishes. Well, and pizza 🙂 We enjoyed our last meal in Corte, breakfast at the hotel, on our favorite patio by the river before heading to our last city- Calvi. I ate my first soft boiled egg. As we cracked into them Annette said, “These are raw.” Yep! They sure were. The waitress was mortified and tried again!
At breakfast we happened to sit next to a sweet French couple who gave us some pointers. (They said after eavesdropping on us they thought we were all from New York.) He was from Calvi and recommended a beach to visit on our way. We took his suggestion and went to Le Pain de Sucre, literally “Sugar Bread” beach. It was fun to see how each beach we visited was unique. This one had rocks to one side, giving us some nice shade. We got ourselves some Corsican beer and camped out here for awhile. And ate another bag of potato chips 🙂
Our drive that day was about an hour and a half total. As we were driving we’d turn a corner and just say “WOW.” The view of the coast and the mountains from the windy road was breathtaking. Again, photos don’t do it justice. You may have to go and see for yourself!
We had booked a VRBO and met the owner at the apartment. Thank goodness for the Google Translate App, otherwise I would not have been able to communicate with him! We found the cutest little restaurant, U Fornu, in town a couple of streets over from the busy area and sat out on the terrace. The food was just okay but it won us over in the ambiance department. And we loved the pitcher of rose. Calvi is a busy little tourist town with a really fun vibe!
The great thing about our VRBO was that it was a 5 minute walk to the beach! We went over late morning and may or may not have stayed for 7 hours that day 🙂 We stood in the clear water in the Bay of Calvi and could see the city of Calvi to our left and the mountains to the right.
This raft is the best 5 euros Annette ever spent.
After our really stressful beach day 😉 we enjoyed some local Corsican Columba beer on our back patio then got ready for our last dinner! We ended up at the outdoor patio of Via Marine Le Resto right on the water. Our waiter, Lucio, was from Argentina so we practiced our Spanish which isn’t great but it’s better than our French! We ordered pizza and salad to share (our go-to) and somehow unknowingly ordered a green salad with ice cream on it. Parmesan ice cream. Not sure how that happened, but it did. Salud!
Boooooo! It’s our last day in paradise, say it isn’t so! It was time to make our way (slowly) to the airport so we took the advice from a gentleman we met on the very first day back in Bastia and visited the town of St Florent on our way out. One more beach and one more lunch before returning to Bastia airport.
Had such a fabulous time with these two. We vacationed hard and laughed a lot. Until we meet again, Corsica!