Leading Travel Writer Fiona Whitty gives us her insider knowledge on why Corsica is a family favourite
IF you’re looking for the perfect place to whisk the kids, take a look at cool Corsica. The holiday isle boasts a mesmerising mix of Mediterranean vibes; while it’s part of France, its proximity to the Tuscan coast gives it a relaxed Italian feel. Here are five reasons why Corsica should be on the family wish list.
Corsica has it all – icing-sugar-soft beaches, deliciously warm clear seas, towering granite mountains and pretty clifftop villages. For a good overall taster, hop on a day-long cruise from Porto-Vecchio near the southern tip to the Lavezzi Islands.
You’ll pass some of Corsica’s most famous beaches like Palombaggia and Rondinara and the ancient harbour town of Bonifacio, which teeters over the sea on dazzling white limestone cliffs. Then you’ll motor on to the stunning Lavezzi isles, a cluster of small rocky uninhabited islands surrounded by glass-clear water. After lunch on board, you can swim to shore amid shoals of glittering silvery fish – a tantalising taste of unspoilt paradise.
You’re never far from the good beach; there are around 200 along Corsica’s 1,000 km-long coastline. In the south west the renowned Palombaggia – often compared to the Seychelles – and Rondinara ¬-voted one of Europe’s best – are both heavenly but can get very busy. I also like Roccapina near Sartène in the south west as it’s sheltered by two rocky outlets, making it great for families. Calvi up in the north west has some great stretches too.
Calm, enticing sea
Some of the Med’s clearest and cleanest sea lies around Corsica. Head to the Tyrrhenian Sea – which separates the east coast and Italy – for calm, bath-tub-warm turquoise waters which shelve gently, so it’s perfect for children. There’s barely any change between high tide and low tide either so you don’t need to worry about where the sea will be.
Corsica produces fantastic food and drink. Its tasty cheese, often eaten after a meal with bread and fig jam, is generally made from sheep’s or goats’ milk. Charcuterie is popular too – pigs are reared on chestnuts which gives cured meats a distinctive nutty flavour. Seafood is in abundance; if you’re on the east coast don’t miss the super-plump oysters farmed there. Also do try the beignets – little fritters made with chestnut flour and often stuffed with cheese.
Corsica’s wine delicately coloured rosé wine, produced by allowing the grape skins to remain soaking in the freshly-pressed juice overnight, is fabulous. And for an aperitif, make like a local and order a muscat, a sherry-like dessert wine made on the island.
Fun water sports
For a glimpse into Corsica’s beautiful underwater life, grab snorkels and paddle away. Snorkel anywhere around rocks but a great place is off the isolated north west coast’s Agriates desert, Europe’s only official desert.
Better still, book a guide-led canoe experience with sea adventure specialists Acqua Vanua, based on Plage de Favone on the east coast. A three-hour taster trip in their hand-crafted family-sized pirogues – which are replicas of old Polynesian fishing boats – takes you along the stunning coastline to hidden underwater caves and prime snorkelling spots for the chance to swim with saddled bream, damselfish and wrasse. My 10-year-old son Freddie loved it when our guide Paolo dived down to retrieve a starfish from the seabed for him to feel.
Fiona stayed at Campsite Domaine d’Anghione find out more about visiting Corsica and book your own holiday here