Categories: France

Corsica Calling

by Carol Busch - Friday, October 21, 2022 beautiful coastal road in Corsica

ExperiencePlus! has led bicycle tours on the Mediterranean island of Corsica for 20 years. Home to unforgettable cycling, wild boar, chestnuts, oysters, 8,000-plus foot mountains, pristine beaches, and – don’t forget – Napoleon, Corsica is a must-experience destination that will capture your heart and imagination.

Chances are you know more about Sardinia and Sicily than you do their French cousin. Only 7 miles north from Sardinia across the Strait of Bonifacio, Corsica is distinct from its Italian neighbor despite a similar linguistical heritage (Corsica has a local dialect, Corsu, that is based on Latin but incorporates a mix of French, Arabic, Italian and 16th century Genoese dialect, and akin to Sardu, which is spoken on Sardinia).

While each island enjoys a degree of autonomy from its respective country (Corsica is French), the two islands are quite different topographically. Though both are older than the Alps and were eroded to look more like the lower Jura and the Massif Central in France, Corsica had a newer Alpine “veneer” thrust over most of it when the Alps were formed. As a result, Corsica’s interior looks more rugged than that of Sardinia and the mountains are nearly 2,000-feet taller. And the riding? As ExperiencePlus! tour leader Jo Kent says, it’s “pure cycling pleasure.”

“Many Europeans say it’s their favorite place to bicycle in Europe,” says former ExperiencePlus! tour leader Jonathan Hancock in this article.

With its signature quiet roads, stunning scenery, diverse landscapes, scrumptious food, gorgeous beaches, and fascinating history, we think you will too.

Cycling Corsica Plus! Beaches and Bonifacio

Our tour begins in Bastia, the historic capital of Corsica located at the eastern base of the Cap Corse. Explore the Cap’s coastline and dip into its interior over the first two full days of riding, which features an introduction to the Genoese watch tower – a remnant early warning system the Genoese used to spread word about incoming pirates. Sixty of these towers still stand today.

Stay two nights in the ancient Roman town of Saint-Florent so you can take an optional rest day (and enjoy our hotel on the water!), or embark on a optional interior loop ride that visits the most famous Pisan cathedral in Corsica. En route to L’lle Rousse we cross the unique Désert des Agriates, a stony landscape that was once rich with wheat fields is unlike any area on the island. At the end of the day your efforts are rewarded with a refreshing beach swim.

Then it’s time to head inland on our main ‘mountain day’ of the tour. With nearly 6,000′ of climbing in 50 miles, you start to understand why the interior of the island was so challenging for invading groups to conquer. It is here in Corsican mountains that the independent spirit of the island took hold.

Continue across the island’s interior, back to its eastern shore, for the remaining days of the tour, exploring the towns of Pinarello, with its white sand beaches, and Ponte Vecchio, and the seaside fortress of Bonifacio, perched on limestone cliffs at the island’s southern tip, and your final stopping place for the last two nights on tour.

If you don’t have 11 days to spend on the island, not to worry. The 8-day tour ends in Pinarello.

Tour Summary

  • 2023 Departure: September 13-23 (11 days); September 13-20 (8-days)
  • Tour Level: 4.0
  • Total Distance: 436-524 km (269-323 miles)
  • Tour Style: Classic
  • Includes: 11 days, 10 nights’ accommodation; meals as noted in itinerary; wine tasting; guided tour of Bonifacio
  • Ride highlights: Our 50 favorite rides list, generated by EP staff and tour leaders, includes 4 days from the Corsica tour.  Rick Price, EP founder, nominated days 2 and 3 to the list, while EP tour leader Jo Kent, favors days 8 and 10. She characterizes Day 8 as “pure cycling pleasure” and considers the final descent one of the best anywhere. You can read more about some of Jo’s other favorite rides in this article we featured on Corsica back in 2019.
  • For a thorough exploration of each day’s ride visit the 11-day tour’s web page here and the 8-day tour’s web page here.

Carol Busch - Carol had the great fortune to develop her passion for bicycle travel in the late 1990s when she first worked for ExperiencePlus! as a marketing associate, tour guide, and tour developer. Convinced she needed to find ‘more purposeful’ work, she went back to graduate school and spent the next two decades working in non-profit and higher education marketing and communications. Carol returned to ExperiencePlus! in 2021 as Sales and Marketing Manager. Whether mountain biking, backcountry skiing, trail running, fly fishing, or exploring gravel roads, Carol is continually in pursuit of new adventure.

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