Sunday 30th June – Monday 1st July 2019
Because of the tight corners needed to negotiate the gradient of the inland mountains, the Corsican trains run on narrow gauge track and they are some of the most scenic routes in Europe. In contrast to the Himalayan trains in India however, the rolling stock is modern and significantly more comfortable.
The train from Bastia to Calvi travels southwards down the east coast then cuts across the central mountains to the west of the island.
It then travels along the western coast past the beautiful beaches at L’Île Rousse, Corbara and Algajola.
As we arrived on the train, Calvi Citadel is proudly visible at the far end of the bay.
The Citadel here presents a more complete profile to the world than its equivalent in Bastia and impressive bastions overlook the sea on three sides. Like the Citadel at Bastia, it was also built by the Genoese as protection for the port and local trade.
Quay Landry runs along the side of the marina and port and offers a wealth of waterside ice cream parlours, cafes and bars with parasols to provide shade and is the perfect spot to cool down and sample the local cuisine.
We decided to save the climb to the citadel for the next day.
Calvi itself, now the capital of the Balagne region, is renowned for its long white beach and claims to be the real birthplace of Christopher Columbus, which explains why our route up to the Citadel took us through Place Christophe Colomb and past the memorial to the fallen of WWI.
The Citadel itself is warren of narrow streets.
Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793 and Nelson, not yet Admiral Lord Nelson, commanding The Agamemnon helped to capture Corsica. He was involved in the Siege of Calvi which saw the British fleet launch 30,000 cannon shots at the citadel in 1794. Nelson lost the sight in his right eye during the battle.
The Citadel also includes the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral . . .
. . . and the Oratoire Saint-Antione.
The views are beautiful and include the town spread out below, the battlements and the mountains beyond . . .
. . . as well as the sea and the wide expanse of the bay.
On our route back down, in one of the two main shopping streets we rather incongruously passed a shop dedicated to selling merchandise for the All Blacks rugby team as well as the Santa Maria church.
After the exertions of the climb, we found watching the boats and luxury yachts moor up at Quay Landry a pleasant way to pass the time . . .
. . . whilst ensuring that we did not dehydrate in the record-breaking heat.