From the 24th of May through the 8th of June, Jerry and Odette travelled to Corsica (with a few days in Paris on the way back.)
After some negotiation about destination and some work with google to find a local travel agent, we decided to spend a couple of weeks in Corsica in 2019. On impulse, I decided to go with just my iPhone for a camera. Here is the route:
We took a Lyft XLto the airport – pricy but smooth. Checked the bike cases at the curb and went straight to the gate. Flew Delta to Charles De Gaulle seated in an exit row – not a bad flight. French customs were a cluster with people cutting the line and others yelling at them about it. Rechecked our luggage and waited something like six hours for an Air France connector to Ajaccio. Eventually met up with the van driver and got delivered to a hotel in the old part of town early in the evening. Had dinner on the outdoor patio at Da Mamma – a tourist place but quite nice.
Put the bike together the next day, with no issues. Odette walked around town but it was Sunday and nothing was open. We rode the assembled bike out to the Genoise Tower and back and it performed just fine. Had dinner at Da Mamma again because the places we wanted to go were closed.
In the morning we found the ferry to Porticcio and rode to Propriano with a stop at Filitosa for lunch and a look at the Menhirs. It rained on us on the ferry and again just before Propriano, but really what we had expected to be a wet day turned out to be just cloudy and damp. The hotel was new construction (we were on an upper floor) but they had a room in which to lock the bike. Unfortunately our bike cases had been fished out of the storeroom in Ajaccio and transported to Propriano – Odette had to call the agent and arrange to have them sent back and held for us. We couldn’t find the restaurant the front desk recommended so we ate at the covered terrace of a brasserie on the main street – not very elegant but their charcuterie wasn’t bad. We went to a creperie afterwards.
After tightening crank bolts and fiddling with a limit screw we continued on to Capomoro and a hike to another Genoise Tower. We continued on to the Cauria prehistoric site and more Menhirs. We did an out-and back to Tizzano beach, dodging wild boar, and then retraced our route with a climb up to Sartene. We found our hotel on the road back to Ajaccio and got pushed hard by the manager who was offended that we thought we ought to be able to lock up the bike and who would have rather that we found another place to stay (if you’re ever in Sartene, avoid the Hotel Rossi.). Climbed some vertiginous stairs to eat in a tourist place that was good and a lot of fun.
The route climbed out of Sartene and then descended for ten twisty miles. This was one of the best stretches of riding we have ever done – gorgeous scenery and really fun riding. The rest of the way to Bonafaccio was in traffic except for a side route (that must have been an artifact of the GPX file) that took us on a super rocky hiking trail for a couple of miles just before the old city. We climbed out to the lighthouse and got views of the cliffs that the old city is built on, then descended and climbed again to get up to our hotel. The guys at the hotel didn’t have any issue securing the bike and we ate at a really good restaurant in a town that seemed depopulated in the evening.
It was a long day from Bonafaccio to Aleria and entirely on highway. We stopped and walked around Porto Vecchio but it was too early for lunch. We visited the roman ruins at Aleria as well as the museum – the quantity of greek and roman funerary objects was really impressive. Dinner was in the hotel and was quite good.
Not a long ride from Aleria to Corte and not terribly steep. We rode through the town (a rocky little mountain town) and did the out-and-back up the Restonica River. This road started off narrow and got narrower and it was really very steep – but the scenery was incredible. We stopped at a bridge 1km before the end of the pavement and returned to a slightly lower restaurant for lunch. (At that cafe we had the only flat tire we experienced on the trip.) The hotel in Corte was not as nice as the others we stayed in, but the restaurant for dinner was absolutely superb. They didn’t lock the garage where they had us store the bike (they didn’t even close the door,) but they parked enough motorcycles and cars in front of it that it felt secure.
There was a long scenic climb from Corte to Castel di Vergio where we stopped for lunch. In particular the part where the road went through a gorge was spectacular, but luckily there wasn’t a lot of traffic. The descent after lunch was fun, too. We kept an eye out for pigs and stopped to help a girl who’d fallen off her bike. Evisa was small and without much going on (at least in our part of town.) We shared a hotel with a UK cycle group that wasn’t particularly considerate. Dinner was at the hotel and both the food and the view were great with an abundance of swallows.
There was a descent out of Evisa and then a climb to Piana that cut through spectacular sea stacks. There was a lot of traffic on the climb but the views were worth it. We continued on to Arone Beach where we sat on the sand for an hour and then had a remarkable lunch. We retraced our route to Piana and found our neat old hotel with no elevator. Most of the other guests were part of a German vintage car group. We walked into town and had ice cream. We sat on the hotel terrace for a while admiring the view and then had a superb dinner in the dining room.
The next day we went back down through the sea stacks, around the Porto inlet, and then did a long climb up to the headland on the other side of the inlet. We stopped at Col de la Croix and walked to the panoramic viewpoint (without descending to the beach.) Then we descended to Porto, repeated the climb through the sea stacks (stopping for lunch in the process,) and returned to our hotel. We walked into town for ice cream again and had another superb meal in the dining room.
The ride from Piana to Ajaccio was mainly along the coast with great views and beautiful white beaches. We didn’t stop – the bike was making a lot of noise and not shifting well and I just wanted to make it back to the city. We had a couple of good climbs on the shoulder of a busy road, then exited onto a quieter route that took us right into Ajaccio and to the hotel where we’d spent the first couple of nights. Our bike cases were waiting for us and I spent the afternoon dismantling the bike and packing it up. (No scales, but when we checked bags at the airport their weight was identical!) I jumped up from the bed to let Odette into the room and rammed my head into the open window leaving me with a couple of bloody cuts on my forehead for the rest of our trip. We had dinner at a restaurant that had been closed the previous Sunday and it was well worth the wait.
We caught an early morning cab to the airport and flew to Nantes where we had to collect our luggage and go through security again for our flight to Paris. It was a pretty tight connection and when we got on the plane there was no space left in the overheads and somebody was in our aisle seat. It all worked out, though. Paris meant going through customs for some reason and it was a cluster, again. We caught a cab to Montmartre and found our hotel. It was a really nice place with a great location off of Rue Lepic. They agreed to keep our luggage but it didn’t fit in their cabinet so it stayed in the open in a courtyard. We had lunch at a brasserie and dinner at the place featured in the movie Amelie (Deux Moulins) and walked around the neighborhood in the rain.
We spent the next two days walking around Montmartre and as far as the Pompidou Center and the Pont Neuf area we knew from other trips. We were scared of rain but didn’t really get wet – we did use the weather as an excuse to figure out the subway which will pay off on our next visit. We ate at Tantes Jeanne one night and at Les Fines Lames the other night. Both were excellent.
We caught another early morning cab to the airport where Delta checkin was surprisingly organized and efficient. We sat at the gate for an hour and then boarded (exit row seats again) and I discovered that I’d left my iPad at security. (It was a first generation wifi only iPad, so no great loss, but I’d been using it as storage for all of the Visa receipts we’d collected on the trip and when that bill comes I will regret having lost those.) The flight was uneventful.
Customs in Seattle was worse than Paris. They held us up until the passengers from the previous flight had cleared – unless you had global entry or were willing to download a mobile app. Odette downloaded the app, I didn’t. She waited in line with me and helped collect our luggage which was on the carousal when I got through the line. Then she waited again in the mobile app line. Eventually we made it to the taxi stand where the first driver couldn’t fit our cases into his prius. The next (prius) driver didn’t have any problem making them fit, but he wanted to take I-5 instead of 99…
It was good to get home.
A few reflections:
- There are, in fact, a lot of hills in Corsica
- I was in Corsica for Easter in 1975 and I couldn’t find anything that triggered memories of that trip.
- Corsican wine is quite good – varied and pretty different from Languedoc or Provence.
- Corsican beer and Eau de Vie isn’t bad, either.
- We rode pretty strong for early season and we accomplished some epic climbs.
- It would have been better if I had taken the bike in for service before the trip.
- I can live just fine without lugging around an SLR camera
- The biking highlight of the trip was the descent after Sartene. The best hotel was Roches Rouges in Piana. The best food was in Paris – but what we ate in Corsica was uniformly good and sometimes quite sophisticated.
- There’s got to be a better way to get from Ajaccio to Paris than by flying through Nantes.
here are the GPS tracks:
6/4 – Corsica Day 9 – Piana to Ajaccio. here’s the map. 43 miles
6/3 – Corsica Day 8 – Piana out-and-back. here’s the map. 42 miles
6/2 – Corsica Day 7 – Evisa to Piana. here’s the map. 36 miles
6/1 – Corsica Day 6 – Corte to Evisa. here’s the map. 39 miles
5/31 – Corsica Day 5 – Aleria to Corte. here’s the map. 47 miles
5/30 – Corsica Day 4 – Bonafacio to Aleria. here’s the map. 66 miles
5/29 – Corsica Day 3 – Sartene to Bonifacio. here’s the map. 41 miles
5/28 – Corsica Day 2 – Propriano to Sartene. here’s the map. 50 miles
5/27 – Corsica Day 1 – Ajaccio to Propriano. here’s the map. 46 miles
5/26 – Corsica Day 0 – Ajaccio out-and-back. here’s the map. 15 miles
here’s the itinerary: TOPO FIT BIKE TOUR DE CORSE BATIK
here’s the hotel info: BATIK sejour 19FITVEL003