Paris is noticeably quieter, as friends and colleagues head off on their holidays. Not just yet for me - I'm hanging on until the beginning of September (Greece in case you're interested).
So I thought it was as good a time as ever to share my trip to Corsica at the end of May. Aside from a bit of wind, the weather was perfect and I think we were the only tourists around to disturb the locals / pollute the breathtaking landscape ; )
WHERE WE STAYED
I fell completely for the charm of Castel Brando, a former "Palezzi des Américains" situated right next to the charming port of Erbalunga. These Palace style houses became popular from the mid 19th century onwards, as Cap Corse residents returned from America having made a fortune, signifying their owner's newfound wealth.
We landed in Bastia airport and picked up our hybrid rental car. After a 40 minute drive we arrived at Castel Brando (it's well sign-posted) and received a warm welcome from Julien, the owner. On the short walk to our room, I stopped to take some photos of the beautiful Mediterranean courtyard, complete with olive tree, and marvel at the palm trees.
The vibrant colours of this boutique hotel, and its lush vegetation, were a real treat for our sore Parisian eyes. From our room balcony we were treated to a view of Corsica's finest landscape. If you're looking for some real down-time, then Hotel Castel Brando is perfect. There's around 40 rooms in total, so you won't feel crowded: with 2 swimming pools available, as well as a jacuzzi, a spa and restaurant, there's really no need to leave the hotel if you don't want to.
However, if you're a fan of water sports or looking for some adventure then it's also a great choice as you're with local experts. You can find more information on the Castel Brando website and see what whets your appetite. I can't thank Julien and his team enough for making our stay so relaxed, and hope to head back soon!
Situated between sea and mountain, Bastia is the principal port of Corsica, a detail which is hard to miss once you visit. We parked the car and walked up Rue Napoléon to reach the Place du Marché where we stopped for a beer and did some people watching. From there we headed to the "Vieux Port" before climbing upwards to the Citadelle to enjoy the spectacular views.
We drove through the famous wine region of Patrimonio one afternoon - stopping off here and there for a little tasting - with the sole aim of getting to Nonza. This medieval village, with only 73 permanent inhabitants, perches graciously on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and offers stunning panoramic views.
Armed with a stellar restaurant recommendation (thanks Julien) we walked through winding streets, stopping along the way to photograph various cats, before heading upwards to the Paoline Tower. These present day ruins once served as a watchtower during the 18th century battle for Corsican independence.
La Sassa has it all - dramatic views, excellent food, cool cocktails and sunsets. It has a trendy vibe, so obviously I felt a little out of place. This did not stop me enjoying the food (fresh tuna ceviche, a creamy burrata) and cocktails / wine, served by very chilled waiters, whilst soaking up the music (of course they have a DJ). Would highly recommend for either a romantic dinner with your boo or for a great night out with friends.
So all in all a successful first trip to the north of Corsica - I plan to go back as soon as possible for some more wine-tasting and dramatic scenery ; ) xxxxx