jeudi 24 septembre 2009

Corsican Beaches

We are now officially in autumn. . As I write though, the sky remains stubbornly blue, albeit with threatening gray clouds and the temperature is still not quite sweater weather. Summer can’t quite release its grip yet. For most of us though, summer holidays are but a distant but beloved memory that will keep us warm and cheered during the long cold months.

With that thought in mind, I’m happy to think that I stocked up on that all essential Vitamin D during our summer holidays in the South of France. More than any other part of the country, the South of France is the blessed land when it comes to sunshine and sea. When most of the country is submerged under rain and fog, the South of France seems to escape the worst of it. Little wonder then that hordes of people descend its sunny shores every summer. But more of that will come in later posts...

This year, we went a little bit past mainland and headed towards Corsica. Our destination was the Southern part of Corsica, specifically Porto Vecchio with its spectacular beaches and the citadel town of Bonifacio. While Corsica is forever associated with its most famous son, the island itself is so much more. It is blessed with so much wild natural beauty that begs to be captured by lens much more sophisticated than mine. But such is its beauty that even lens as simple as mine does a good job of showing you the island’s natural beauty. The drive from the airport to Porto Vecchio reveals a dramatic landscape of a wild mountainous region with hardy trees growing out of what often seemed like sheer rock. There is nothing soft about the landscape; rather it is untamed and almost defiant of the elements. Here and there as we rounded a curve, we could spot the glistening blue of the Mediterranean sea

A glimpse of the Gulf of Corsica....

Porto Vecchio is a smallish town divided into the Ville Haute and its port. The town used to be a Genoese outpost and its primary product was salt. Nowadays the main industry is tourism as people gradually discover this corner of Corsica. There is a pretty little church with a tree -lined square in the middle of the town and there are a number of little alleys and back streets worth exploring as they are full of restaurants and interesting looking shops. Shopping however is not the main draw to Porto Vecchio. Rather it’s the town’s proximity to some spectacular beaches.

the church of Porto Vecchio

Upon some friends’ recommendation, we set off for St. Cyprien where lunch would be at this charming, hidden little restaurant right on the beach. Caveat…we would have to walk a bit to get to this gem of a restaurant. A bit of walk didn’t seem all that daunting except I failed to take into consideration the not inconsiderable heat of the day (35 degree heat will cook even the most intrepid walker, and I for one, am not even that intrepid). From the distance the little blue flag indicating our restaurant seemed very remote indeed. Nonetheless, we (I should say I) persisted and fortunately the walk is along very fine powdery white sand and as there was hardly anybody around, there is nothing to distract you from the sheer turquoise blueness of the sea. Here was the Mediterranean Sea in all its glory and as it folds into the horizon, there is an unbroken line between the sea and sky. There is no need to hurry anywhere, it is the perfect moment to enjoy. Arriving at the restaurant was almost anti-climatic except for the growling of my stomach, which reminded me that I was starving. Time enough after for swimming.

Le Cabane Bleu where we had lunch..
The calm waters of St. Cyprien with the boats that take you to other coves

If St. Cyprien was quiet and almost deserted, Palombaggia was much more crowded. It is one of the area’s most famous beaches and with good reason too. There is a sweep of long sandy beach dotted here and there with red granite rocks against which pine trees stand out. But as with St. Cyprien, the waters were clear and cool with hardly a current to fight against. Given the number of visitors, which descend every summer on Palombaggia, there are a good number of restaurants along the stretch of beach. One could easily spend the entire day here enjoying the sea and people watching while you are at it!


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