Tuesday 2 and Wednesday 3 July 2019
As the Calvi area is known for six kilometres of long white sandy beaches we decided to delay breakfast and start the day with a stroll along the bay and a refreshing swim.
The beach is indeed sandy and slopes gently down so is ideal for children.
In some places there is a thin band of brown and white pieces of vegetation floating where the sea meets the land, looking like sections of ticker tape streamers which we assume came from the bark and the cones of the nearby pine trees. But in general the sea is clear and you can see shoals of small fish casting shadows in the shallows which panic and scatter as you walk along in the surf.
The beach has many cafes with rows of loungers and parasols for rent. We noticed the prices at one: €30 for the front row with prices decreasing as your proximity to the sea recedes.
We opted to put our clothes in a pile out of the sea’s reach and enjoyed a cooling dip in the clear turquoise Mediterranean before returning to our hotel to wash off the sand and salt.
Having checked out, we left our luggage [as agreed with the receptionist the day before who, quite incongruously, had a strong Yorkshire accent] while we returned to Quay Landry for lunch prior to catching the 15:35 to Corte in the mountains.
The train offers some spectacular views. Check out the Video of the day at the bottom of this blog.
Arriving around 18:00 in Corte, there was little time for proper sightseeing but we strolled up the main street in the fading evening heat to get our bearings past an attractive fountain leading up to a street with bars . . .
. . . to Place Paoli, named after Pascal Paoli, a patriot and hero of Corsican independence.
The following morning we packed up early and checked out so we could look round the town. We passed L’Église de L’Annonciation . . .
. . . on our way up to . . .
. . . the Belvedere for stunning views . .
. . . of the Citadel perched on a craggy outcrop.
We found we had arrived at the entrance to the Citadel before opening time so this allowed us to have breakfast in Place Gaffori while we waited for the Citadel Museum to open at 10:00. Jean-Pierre Gaffori, another hero of the Corsican fight for independence against the Genoese, was born in 1704 on Corte. There is a statue of him in the square . . .
. . . in which he seems to be pointing towards L’Église de l’Annonciation.
The Citadel itself is a museum as well as an ancient building and the views are truly breathtaking – and that is not purely due to the climb in excessive heat.
On our way down we passed the Capella Santa Croce, which has an unassuming exterior, but is beautiful inside.
We then caught the train from Corte to Ajaccio: the scenery, as Robert anticipated it would be, is spectacular.
We arrived in the early evening in Ajaccio. This is the end of the line for Corsican railways, for us, as we have now travelled, the entire 144 miles of the three lines of single narrow gauge track. Our next stop will be Bonifacio on the southern tip of Corsica, where we have a ferry booked to travel south to the larger island of Sardinia [Italy]. Robert had planned that this would be by bus but a little research in Calvi suggested that we might be able to get a scenic tourist boat [getting off half way]. So we walked along to the port in Ajaccio to find the small unassuming office to obtain tickets for the boat journey to Bonifacio and then we went for a small beer to plan our sightseeing for Thursday.
Corsican food reflects both Italian and French influences and the delicious and filling salads regularly feature basil, olives and Corsican cheeses including a local style of parmesan and bufala mozzarella.