I have just returned from a blissful trip to Corsica (as you will know if you follow us on Instagram) where the beaches really do feel like you are stepping into a postcard. This was our third trip – and certainly not our last. There is a lot to love about this island. The beaches, the weather, the scenery, the wine, the cheese… We stayed in a little villa tucked into the hillside, with its own pool (swimming with a view of the sun setting takes some beating – especially if you’re accompanied by a small girl shrieking with joy and there’s a cold glass of rose waiting for you once the littles are abed…) surrounded by lavender, rosemary and fields of young vines. Should I ever have a pool (a girl can dream), I shall definitely surround it with fragrance. Our days settled into an easy rhythm – out early(ish) to the beach before the heat of the day set in (and so the littlest one could nap in his buggy on the beach or in a cafe as we breakfasted) and then back for a lazy lunch and not-so-lazy swim whilst nap no. 2 took place. (There were also ‘dance shows’ by the pool – as you can see.)
Beachlife: Corsica is, quite rightly, famed for its beaches. Our favourites in the South are Pinarello – a looooong stretch of white sand fringed with pines (much less developed than nearby Palombaggia); Roccapina – turn left of the winding mountain road and down, down, down a rocky dirt track – and find yourself rewarded by a crescent bay guarded by a stone lion; and San Cyprien – a tiny bay frequented by locals (I kid you not: we saw a group of school children having a swimming lesson. How cool is that?) with a very chic beach cafe, Le Tiki Chez Marco – which we had virtually to ourselves for morning coffee, croissants and apple juice…
Other Corsican hot beach spots: the Lavezzi Isles – accessible only by boat (you can book a trip if you don’t have a handy boat of your own) and Loto and Saleccia in the north of the island (take a boat from St Florent. Mind the cows upon arrival (seriously, they graze on the beach).
Visit: We stayed near Porto Vecchio – avoid the modern marina and head to the winding streets of the old town for restaurant and chi chi boutiques (yes, where I found my Isabel Marant Etoile blouse) and a cafe-lined square with an old-fashioned carousel (possibly my daughter’s ideal set-up: a taste of the fun fair and pain au chocolat). Beautiful Bonifacio is a Genoese fortress town clustered on the top of a hill. If you have small people – park by the marina and take the little train to the top (highly thrilling) then explore the cobbled labyrinth of streets, opening up onto breathtaking views out to sea.
Stay: Were I not travelling with children (we have always booked our villas through Simpson Travel), I would rather like to stay here or the Hotel Les Bergeries with its prime location above Palombaggia beach, infinity pools and super-chic rooms. It even has a shuttle service to the beach (although we love the walk through the shady pines). In the north of the island, I’d make a beeline for La Dimora – a converted 18th Century summer house with lush, lavender-lined gardens, stylish bedrooms, pool and hammocks in which to laze.
Eat/Drink: There are two things no right-thinking foodie should miss about Corsica: the wine and the cheese. The latter is gloriously stinky (if that’s your kind of thing). The must-visit vineyard (according to the experts, not just occasional wine drinkers (for which read ‘lightweights’) like me) is Domanie de Torraccia nestled in the hills above Porto Vecchio. Try the rose and the muscat. We wore matching stripes to visit Domaine Fiumcicoli – I did glance at the regimented rows of vines marching into the horizon, but that little stripy boy was a pretty distracting prospect.