10 Best Attractions in Corsica France That You MUST SEE
The beautiful island of Corsica is often compared to paradise due its rich natural habitat that has been preserved in pristine condition. Many of the natural treasures on the island have been given world heritage importance by UNESCO. Though a territory of France, Corsica has been under both Italian and French occupation in history. Visitors can therefore view and experience a mix of both the cultures here. French military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, was born in Corsica. There is a strong belief that the area of Calvi, on the island, is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Some of the important places of visit in Corsica annually attract travellers ten times the local population of the island, which shows the popularity of the place as a holiday destination.
Best Corsica Attractions
1. Scandola Nature Reserve
Comprising an area of about 1000 hectares in the Haute-Corse region, the Scandola Nature Reserve is one of its kinds and has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A volcanic eruption that had occurred millions of years ago, created unique rock formations here. Named Monte Cinto, the volcano lies dormant now.
Visitors will notice the effect of natural erosion on the rock faces, with its resultant caves and grottoes. The water body around the area is abounding with a number of sea mammals and fishes. The natural vegetation of sea weeds comprises a variety that cannot be seen anywhere else. One can get a mesmerising view of the sea face from where the coastline starts.
2. Calanche Cliffs (Calanques de Piana)
On the western coast of Corsica, in the Piana region, lies the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Calanche Cliffs. The island itself has its own charm and this geographical natural wonder adorns it further like a sparkling diamond on an exquisitely designed golden crown. The rocks of the cliff are red in colour, which contrasts with the crystal blue waters. The natural vegetation, resplendent in its beautiful shade of green, adds the third dimension of beauty. Visitors will also find the area’s flora and fauna of intriguing interest. Most of the natural species here are not seen anywhere else in the world. The fishes, corals and all other maritime life are unique in the region. Adventure loving visitors can also partake in swimming, diving and sailing.
3. Musée Fesch
Cardinal Joseph Fesch was the maternal uncle of Napoleon. He was an art lover and during his life time had the desire to create an Institute of Arts and Science. He had acquired a vast collection of paintings and these he donated to an institute to be founded in his hometown of Ajaccio. Today, this place is known as the Musée Fesch, and it is housed in the Palais Fesch building. There is a complete section dedicated to Napoleon and his family in the art gallery where the paintings are displayed.
Visitors can see about 16,000 paintings from Cardinal Joseph Fesch’s collection and about 17,000 works of art in total. This is the only place in the world where creations by Italian artists can be viewed in such large numbers. However, quite a few important art exhibits were sold off by Joseph Bonaparte, the sole heir of the art treasures.
4. La Maison Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio and his house of birth had been under the ownership of his heirs till 1923. It was then that they handed over the building to the state of France, and in 1967 it was turned into a museum. The building itself dates back to the 17th century. Inside, visitors get to view the furniture that Napoleon’s mother, Madame Laetitia, collected. Visitors can get a feel of Napoleon Bonaparte and his life through the layout of the rooms. Medals belonging to Napoleon adorn one entire floor of the building. Portraits depicting the life and times of Napoleon and France of the time also are on show at the museum.
5. Citadelle de Bastia
The Citadelle de Bastia was built by the Genoese between 1378 and 1530. Inside the walls of the citadel lies the village of Terra Nova. The Musée à Bastia inside the Palais des Gouverneurs, is one of the attractions inside the area. The citadel allows visitors to get spectacular views of the sea and surrounding areas, and it itself makes for a beautiful sight.
6. Église Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Bonifacio
The church has its origin in 12-13 century, and was built by Pisans. Visitors can observe the Genoese form of architectural design on the church, and realise its historic value in terms of the time it has stood on its ground. It was fairly recently in 1982, that the church received due recognition after being declared a historic monument. As the name suggests, the church is located in the Bonifacio region of Corsica. Historical records mention a Saint Boniface who lived in this city and his relics can be found in the precincts of the church. The church also has a bell tower that is 25 meters high and also boasts an official figure of a million visitors to its premises every year.
7. Aiguilles de Bavella
This high mountain pass offers visitors some breathtaking views of the landscape that flows below. Translating to Bavella Needles, the Aiguilles de Bavella in Ajaccio is so named due its sharp upward peaks which are a marvel to look at. The mountain sheep that wander in this region, called mouflon, are a breed not seen anywhere else. Another wonder of this place is the changing colour of the peaks, based on the position of the sun. Visitors climbing up to the pass in Bavella can view the exotic Notre Dame des Neiges statue, also called the statue of Our Lady of the Snow. Adventure sports lovers will naturally find ample opportunity here for climbing and walking.
8. Lavezzi Islands
This island is part of an archipelago that separates Corsica from Sardinia. The archipelago is located in the Mediterranean Sea in the strait of Bonifacio. The natural formation of the island, which contains reefs and granite, makes it a sight worth visiting. Lavezzi is also the south most point of France in official terms. An interesting fact about this island is that in 1855, on 15th of February to be specific, a French frigate Sémillante sunk at this spot and its wreck still remains under water. The island itself remains uninhabited to date, however for adventure lovers there is a lot to experience. Lavezzi is easily accessible from Bonifacio.
9. Grotte di Bonifacio
The Grotte di Bonaficio is a beautiful sea cave located near the town of Bonifacio in Corsica. Visitors can reach it by taking a boat at the marina. On reaching the grotto, the boat enters through a low passage that opens up into a wider and larger cave. Natural sunlight, which enters through an opening on the cave’s roof, plays with the lighting that enhances the colour of the water and creates mysterious shadows on the stalactites. The gold, indigo and amethyst hues that are reflected inside the cave add to the spectacular beauty of the Grotte di Bonaficio.
10. Citadel Calvi
The Calvi Citadel is the military base for the airborne parachute unit of the French Foreign Legion. Visitors will find it interesting to learn about the humiliating defeat this legion faced in a battle with British troops. The recruits in this legion are provided with some anonymity for reasons best known to the French administration. The views that one gets from the citadel are spectacular, especially around sunset. If you are a hat collector then do head to the Chapellerie near the citadel, it literally has every type of hat that one can ever imagine.