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It’s insane that I’ve been here in the south of France for over 11 years, and still haven’t been to Corsica. We talk about it yearly. But we never quite go (it’s not as easy as it sounds, when Italy is just always beckoning from across the border!!)

But Buddy is three this year. Can handle the travel. Walk on his own for decent distances. And it’s about frickin’ time we got there.

So we hopped a ferry to Corsica!

Okay, maybe not hopped, as the whole trip was planned 6 months in advance to figure out which part of the island to visit, book the ferry (well in advance, as the prices tend to skyrocket as you get closer to your departure date!), and find a decent, charming B&B to call home for the week.  That all done, we had settled on the Calvi region, assured by many who knew that it was a good base for a holiday with a kid in tow.

And you know what… it really was!  We had some last minute anxieties  as Buddy had recently developed some motion sickness in cars… and one thing we were sure of, was that there would be an abundance of windy roads on the island. And so, armed with acupuncture wristbands and homeopathic medicines, we set out for our summer holiday. Enfin, la Corse!

Big tip for the travel:  when booking your ferry, book a cabin. It was totally worth the extra cost just to have a quiet place to chill out, and at the very least leave your toddler-packed hand baggage (blankie, bunnies & books…. and ipad!!)

-We chose Calvi because there was an abundance of different things we could see & do, to keep the holiday feeling varied, but not repetitive.  A day to explore Calvi, and have an ice cream. A day exploring the small artisinal villages in the back country. A ‘relax at the B&B’ day (until the wasps chased us from the pool). A beach day.  A drive up to St Florent to take a boat to the ‘secret beaches’ that aren’t accessible by road. Honestly so much to do, with no more than an hour and a half drive anywhere.

Highlights and lowlights, for those thinking of doing the same:

– Gites de Paradella, a few km inland from Calvi, and our home for 7 nights. Beautiful, rustic, charming… it ticked all of our boxes. Lovely grassy courtyard for a game of footie, or just lazing about listening to the birds. A decent sized pool with a gentle slope, great for all ages (not that the wasps or the winds really let us enjoy the pool as much as we would have liked). Fantastic hosts. The website and photos actually do not do this property justice, and it was a perfect base for our day trips in all directions. paradella

– I Scalini restaurant at the top of the village of Saint Antonio.  This was our day of ‘village hopping’ to explore the back country and see what artisanal products we could find.  After wandering the beautiful village with sweeping views towards both Calvi and ile Rousse, we found a beautiful restaurant, perched over the mountain, with open 360% views. The food was mediocre (big-ass salads though) but the atmosphere and views made up for any shortcomings. If only it wasn’t so windy!!!!IMG_0460

– Which brings me to our overwhelming lowlight. It’s really, really windy in Calvi!! We didn’t know this, and it really affected the temperatures every day… and made beach days a bit less enjoyable. Not to worry, we had a grand time regardless!!

– the town of Pigna.  Totally charming (and tiny), but with a couple of great artisan shops — I was quite taken with their music box shop, where we bought two of these adorable little (expensive) crafterpieces (Scata Musica).  Also enjoyed another highlight lunch in Casa Musicale, a restored mill house turned hotel-restaurant (and hosts a variety of concernts and music courses and seminars) — apparently the whole villages is devoted to the love of music! Casa Musicale only serves food from Corsica, so you can be sure it was grown, cultivated, caught and prepared locally. It was light, simple and delicious… and the views over the coast were, again, astounding.

pigna

– The beaches off St Florent:  only accessible by boat or quad car. They (there are two) are wide, pristine, shallow, clear and not at all crowded. Buddy could walk out so far, and he was so proud of himself! We had mild moments of panic if a wave caught him off balance though!

st florent beach

– the Beaches of Calvi. Wide and sandy. Windy though!  Cute little local train runs through from time to time… and there is an accrobranche / ropes course there (that buddy was too small for this time). We lunched at Octopussy, and buddy was so pleased with it that he asked to go back again before our trip was over.

calvi beach

– The town of Ile Rousse?  Surprisingly disappointing. Not much of a town, just feels like big resort. We had considered having our base there… so glad we didn’t!  However, the salted caramel gelato buddy had was the best of the trip!! Perhaps best ever!!

– And our final highlight: We tacked an extra day to our holiday to head a bit further down the coast to a tiny town called Porto. Not to be confused with Porto Vecchio!!  It’s only 70-odd kilometeres from here to there, but it’s agonizingly twisty and windy, and we were a bit car-sick anxious the whole way there (buddy was fine!!  I don’t care if it’s placebo effect from the wristbands and medication, as long as I don’t have to clean up a bucket of vomit). The views were extraordinary. Photos do not do it justice. The town of porto was tiny, new, and completely void of anything other than souvenir shops, restaurants, and shops selling boat tour tickets.  So you will not need more than 2 nights there — any more than that and you’ll go squirrely!!  But do go. And do take a boat ride out to the Scandola Reserve and Calanques do Piana — natural rock formations of feiry red rock blazing against the deep blue mediterranean. We didn’t make it all the way over to Scandola reserve as that would simply be too long in a boat for Buddy, but the Calanques were breathtaking, and well worth the drive down the coast.

porto

Not a whole lot of lowlights from our perspective!  There was more than enough to do within easy driving distance from our base. And we didn’t encounter any place that was not tolerant or even charmed by our little fella. In fact, on our last night in Porto, two of the servers requested kisses and hugs from him, and the entire restaurant — at least all those on the terrace — waved him goodnight (after he polished off mumma’s lobster pasta!)

Will we go back again? Yes.  Probably to explore the south next time. Bonifacio, Porto Vecchio, and perhaps a day trip (or two) across to Sardinia. But that’s for another year… still a lot of other places to see and do!  🙂

Bon aventure!

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