The coastline is spectacular anywhere but sailing along the southern side of Corsica the land rises until the towering cliffs at Bonifacio, which must rank as one of the most unforgettable harbour entrances to be found anywhere.
Yet it is the natural beauty that draws visitors – the island has a tough mountainous interior, low lying rocky bays and sublime sandy beaches. Corsica’s main towns of Ajaccio and Bastia are bustling, more Marseilles or Toulon in flavour than Nice, but everywhere you can enjoy the taste of the island.
Head into the mountains if big-flavoured game is your thing. Or put on the snorkel, fins, tough gloves and a mask and free dive in a secluded anchorage and collect sea urchins for a cockpit lunch – washed down with a salmon-pink rose wine.
Itinerary – Corsica
Day 1 – Propriano
Much of the building dates from the early 19th century when the port was established and most of the town constructed. Although the same location had previously been occupied by the Romans and Greeks little remains of this early period, having been frequently attacked and mostly destroyed by pirates during the 18th century. Most imposing is the Church of Notre Dame de la Misericorde which dominates the town centre – the main street is pleasant to explore with the traditional houses now often taken over by luxury shops, cafes and bars.
Day 2 – Figari
Figari provides the perfect and most convenient gateway to Corsica's stunning southern reaches, with the village and surrounding area ensuring it is the perfect base for exploring the l'Extrême Sud region. The village is quaint, charming and authentic, surrounded by beautiful mountainous scenery dotted with vineyards. You will find a pretty church, some modest restaurants and some inviting shops.
Day 3 – Cavallo
Cavallo lies in the Lavezzi archipelago between Corsica and Sardinia. It’s a private island, belonging to a syndicate of property owners. A mile and a quarter from end to end, it has the outline of a jigsaw piece. It is a beguiling place that still wears an understated couture of exclusivity, one of those stylish little islands where luxury is defined as having not much to do but costing a lot to do it. A bit like Mustique – but in the Med.
Day 4 – Porto Vecchio
Porto Vecchio has grown up around the famous 16th-century citadel, perched atop an outcrop of granite; and the rampart restaurants offer splendid views from this ancient vantage point. The town’s old centre, a maze of narrow streets, has kept its charm and still has the atmosphere of the fortress town it once was. Today it is a lively centre for shopping, café-sitting and menu browsing and is one of Corsica's most fashionable towns. Excellent food shops are one of the attractions, from supermarkets to fascinating stores crammed with French and Corsican specialities. In the old town there is a wide range of boutiques and shops for browsing and cafés ready to lure you in for a spot of people watching with a cool drink.
Day 5 – Bonifacio
Perched on a limestone pedestal, Bonifacio is one of the most spectacular towns in the Mediterranean. The Citadel walls and ancient houses appear to rise seamlessly out of sheer cliffs that have been hollowed and striated by the wind and waves. Beneath, an inlet 100m wide forms a natural harbour, home to a buzzing port. Only 12km from Sardinia, the town is distinctly more Italian than French in atmosphere, and even has its own dialect based on Ligurian Italian.
Day 6 – Tizzano
This is a remote inlet on the north side of Pte Latoniccia and whilst limited provisions can be obtained ashore a restaurant and bar are open in the summer. Not far inland at Palaggiu there are many menhirs, 258 of them, and it may be possible to arrange a taxi from Tizzano to visit the site.