It may have been back in April but it would be a shame to skip over our trip to Bonifacio.
After hemming and hawing about where to go for a little weekend retreat/early birthday we settled on some inexpensive flights to Corsica. We soon found ourselves in Ajaccio renting a car and heading into the small capital to have a bite to eat and then take to the wild winding roads of this Southern beauty with it’s most fascinating and sometimes frightful history.
I’d been excited about visiting this little French Island in the sea since my time spent in the Riviera where on the clearest of mornings you might find yourself fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of it in the distance. I admit that at first I nearly missed the goodness of this trip because the original plan was to go to Malta, and somehow staying in France wasn’t quite as exciting, even if it had been on my list. Thankfully with a little time and reflection, I was able to better appreciate the vacation and I could never have imagined it as rustic and lush, photos don’t do it justice. Every twist and turn along the drive seemed to offer another stunning view, endless green and old worn buildings that looked to have been abandoned for several lifetimes. When we finally arrived we were charmed by the village of Bonifacio, which sits perched up high, jutting out of the Mediterranean sea on frightful eroding limestone. On a neighbouring hilltop that was directly across the bay ,offering a great view not only of Bonifacio but also of Sardinia, we found a little villa and the perfect setting for much needed rest. Being the off season we never had to battle traffic on the roads or towns brimming with tourists, just locals and a few adventurers but a good reminder is that sometimes vacations are in and of themselves stressful or full of other roadblocks so we kept it lighthearted by uttering the phrase, “C’est la Corse!” a reminder that things are just a little different here.
If you do plan a trip to Corsica just before the season hits, you might want to consider the following:
1. Most restaurants and shops will either be closed or maintain the most irregular hours so try and find a rental with a kitchen if you can
2. Don’t forget to pack a corkscrew and a little knife like an Opinel for impromptu picnics (just be sure to put it in your checked bag) turns out the wine is pretty good here!
3. Absolutely no online information can be truly relied upon. Always call ahead or talk to someone for any excursions you may want to take
4. Old style French living is in full effect. IE: Smoking still happens indoors, shops close for 1-2 hours for lunch and Sunday is a family day so nothing is open
5. Pack for all kinds of weather, it’s a little tropical and that means you might encounter rain and cold that wasn’t on the radar.
6. When you hit an inevitable bump in the road you just have to remind yourself, “C’est la Corse!” or “It’s Corsica!”
7. Regardless of the season, bring a camera, you’ll be glad you did.