DRIVING THROUGH THE HILLTOP VILLAGES OF NORTHERN CORSICA

CORSICA | FRANCE

[CORSICA, FRANCE] — You know when you’re in a rental car in a foreign land and you’re on a steep impossible skinny one lane road with dropoffs of hundreds of feet and wondering “what the hell am going to do if another car comes the other way???”

I was in exactly in that situation, on a steep rocky road, barely wider than my car, pointing downdowndown on my way to the a sleepy fishing village I was told was a gem. The crazy road was a bunch of zig-zags all the way down to the sea, each turn more precarious than the last.  My clutch skills failing on the steep hill, killing the car as I rounded the tightest bends.

When you’re traveling with someone else, you kinda have a strapped-in support system. Someone to cheer you on, feigning encouragement, in mutual self-preservation. A co-pilot. A navigator. (Unless it’s an ex-wife, then you’re wondering the whole time if she’s going to get all Scarlett Johansson on you, undo your seatbelt, flip open your door and kick you over the edge. Like a cat.)

Anyway… when you’re in a rental car as a solo traveler, you don’t have that encouragement. You’re all own your own, screaming out loud to nobody, yelling ohfuckfuckfuck… sweat and fear visible from space. Seconds feel like hours.

But when you finally get at the end of the road, you’re rewarded with something as magical as Marine de Scala. A quiet centuries old stony fishing village; built in the rocks, out of the rocks. A bunch of fun kids scampering all over the place, cannonballing into the clear blue water. And giggling. You can finally catch your breath and enjoy it all.  Ahhh yes, this was definitely worth it.

Until you realize you have to go back up the same damn road…

That’s what it’s like driving around Corsica. Every single day.

___________________

As you’ll see, northern Corsica is a lot different than the Southern Part. More wide open. Broad, wind-swept hilltops open to the sunny sea. But equally enchanting. 

 

Northern Corsica Towns

Click on a pic below and it’ll open up our visual tour of the coolest spots I’ve found. I was here for just a few days and barely scratched the surface; there’s so much to see. But hopefully you’ll get a feel for the place and want to come, too.


 

A Driving Tour of Cap Corse

Cap Corse is that great Corsican middle finger pointed toward France at the top of the island. A big montainy peninsula, with a rocky side on the east and a cliffy side on the west. Sparsely populated except for a lucky few picturesque villages, as you’ll soon see. 

 

Corsica Map by A World of Maps.com

(Thanks again to Fabrice Weexsteen for letting me use his cool map. Check out his work at from http://aworldofmaps.free.fr)

 

If you don’t stay on the Cap, you can take an all day tour along the deeply narrow road around its shores, clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on where you like the sun to be. If you do the tour, it’s a very long day. Like eight hours with a couple of stops and pictures along the way. But worth it. Remember, driving in Corse takes a long time, with narrow roads and a ton to see. So if you can stay somewhere on the Cap, I’d suggest it if you want to have more time and can catch both sunrises and sunsets.

I took the clockwise route, so that’s how I’ll show you each town.
(Thanks again to Fabrice Weexsteen for letting me use his cool map. Check out his work at from http://aworldofmaps.free.fr)

 

CLICK ON A PICTURE TO FOLLOW ALONG WITH LARGER PICTURES:

 

 

Here’s a Picto-Map(TM) of where everything is on a map:

 

Northern Corsica Map

 

I had the best luck finding the perfect hotels in Corsica. Small, boutique hotels nestled in the hills. Another of my favorites was a place in the hills above L’Ile Rousse in a town called Monticello. A Piattatella was just perfect. Great little restaurant, just for guests, with stunning views from every room over the vast inland valley. Family-run, super-friendly. It’s a great central base to explore all of northern Corsica.

Can’t wait to come back.

Where to Stay in Northern Corsica

 

Last visited July 2015

Great Resources for Corsica

Here are some great resources to find out more about traveling in Corsica:

A great article in Travel & Leisure called Escape To Corsica

Another T&L article that really got my brain going a couple of years ago called So fine, yet so Corsica

A really fun Travel & Leisure article from this summer called Love on the Rocks.  Totally nails the vibe and difficulty driving around.

A good survey article in Departures magazine called Corsica’s Untamed Beauty

Where to stay in Corsica in Conde Nast Traveler. http://www.cntraveller.com/guides/europe/france/corsica/where-to-stay

The Villages, Valleys and Views of Corsica from Fathom Way to Go http://fathomaway.com/guides/europe/france/itineraries/itinerary-corsica-france/

Garance Doré’s Insider’s Guide to Corsica from the Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324021104578550762270667192

High in the Hills of Corsica from the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/travel/high-in-the-hills-of-corsica.html?_r=1

This is a great guide from the UK Conde Nast Traveller “The Best Unspoiled Parts of Corsica” http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/beaches/hotels-villas-north-coast-corsica

Here’s a great brief summary from Fathom Way to Go on Corsica

1
Fields marked with an * are required

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow Us on Instagram @youshouldgohere