Corsica first came onto my radar in 2013, when the Tour de France completed the first 3 stages of the 100th tour on the Island. The beautiful arial footage of the Island during the race just blew me away, and I banked it into my memory of ‘must go’ places with my bicycle.
Well it didn’t disappoint!! Wow! The Island is wild, rugged and mountainous with such diversity of terrain. The island is quite sparsely populated, there aren’t many roads (I think you would struggle to get lost), and the few roads there are aren’t flat (especially in the West). So don’t go cycling in Corsica in less you are prepared to go UP, and to see the most spectacular of scenery you need to go up up up. The good news is there isn’t much that is very steep, with most climbs averaging between 4-7%.
Corsica was just made for bikepackers and cycle tourers, and the majority of the cyclists I passed were laden with paniers. For the true ‘roadies’… then cycling on the island will still be fantastic, but I would suggest a support vehicle, as the best rides are from A to B rather than circular loops, and I would suggest some winter/touring wheels. The road conditions change from fantastic to somewhat ‘challenging’ in places. On my recommended roads below the tarmac is great, but head into the beautiful hilltop villages on the smaller roads and robust wheel wouldn’t go a miss.
By visiting in the middle of May, we expected it to be quiet, but traffic was so incredibly quiet that I think even in the peak of the summer it would be quieter than many other places in the Med. On some of the smaller roads heading in land we never saw a vehicle at all!
Roads to Ride
With so many spectacular views from the bike in Corsica, I don’t think anywhere would disappoint, but these were ‘my’ favourite bits…
Starting in Solenzara, head up the long and steep in parts alpine climb through the Corsican ‘Dolomites’ to the Col de Bavella (1,218m). Then descend towards Zonza, L’Ospedale Lake and then down to Porto Vecchio. Wow wow wow from start to finish, my favourite ride of the trip!
Porto to Piana on the D81 and through the World Heritage Site of Calanche de Piana is liking nothing I have ever seen before.
Porto to the Col de Vergio (1,478m) on the D84. The col it’s self isn’t that spectacular, but the road winds it way up through impressive rocky gorges (watch out for the piggies, they are everywhere) before entering the welcomed shade from the Pine forests that switchback all the way to the summit are well worth the ride.
Calvi to Porto on the D81, over the Col de Marsolino and the Col de Palmarella. Trust me it’s spectacular.
Cape Corse, a lap of the long peninsula located at the northern tip of the island, is as wild and as rugged as it comes on Corsica. Finishing with a beautiful view from the Cold de Teghime looking back towards St Florent.
Recommendations of places to visit
Place de Saleccia really only needs a picture. A long expanse of dazzling white sand shelving gently into the turquoise sea. Completely undeveloped and difficult to get to, keeps it wild and relatively quite. On a 30 degs day at the end of May, I shared the beach with no more than 30 others!
I just love food and eating out, so although the majority of my meals were one one pot dishes cooked outside the tent, I also indulged in a few wonderful meals out, to dine on fabulous Corsicana fresh fish (well it would be rude not to). The two that I really want to share and recommend are… L’Auberge du Pecheur in St Florent, incredible fresh fish in a fish mongers shop! Well, a fish mongers shop by day, and then by night you walk through the shop and into a courtyard/garden behind where they serve a choice of whatever fish were caught that morning, and in particular what Corsica is famous for… Lobster! The second restaurant which completely stole my heart for it’s beautiful setting, was L’Auberge du Chat qui Pêche on the D80 near Canelle on the Cape Corse. With just a handful of little tables nestled under the shade of a big beautiful Plane tree you can lunch with just stunning views out of the Mediterranean. I slammed on the brakes as it came into view, and having been cycling for 5 hours I was quick to announce that we MUST eat here. Not sure I would of cared what was available to eat, because the setting was just to stunning, but a fresh warm Calamari salad couldn’t have been more perfect.
Just like in mainland France, campsites are everywhere in Corsica. My favourite and one I would highly recommend would be Campsite Rondinara. Fantastic site with great facilities, but the beautiful shell bay and beach, with its shallow turquoise waters, makes it really special.
All in all Corsica was magnificent for some spring cycle miles.