The south of France, particularly the Cote d'Azur, has long been known for its Venetian influence as well as its French flavor. Corsica in particular has been claimed by France and Italy, and has influences from both. Napoleon was born on this rugged island.
Corsica is known as the Wild West of France, with a rugged natural setting and clear fresh air, a place where you can find mountains, forest, and beaches clustered together in a sort of microcosm of landscape. Corsicans are mountain people, and historically distrust the sea, over which the many invaders of this independently-minded island have invaded.
Corsica is one of France's wildest sanctuaries of nature. Located off the coast of Monaco and well out from Italy, it's a natural point of ending for an ocean voyage. Around its coast you'll see over a hundred medieval watchtowers. Genoese citadels, churches, and bridges dot the island's coastline, hailing back to the time when Genoa ruled Corsica.
In essence, Corsica is equal amounts vendetta, witchcraft, forest, historical ruins, and the scent of maquis, a lemon-pepper fragrance like incense that permeates the island.
Porto-Vecchio, Corsican Town
Porto-Vecchio has long been known for tours from Italy, and unfortunately most of its quaintness has been destroyed by construction projects catering to the Tourist trade. Nevertheless, you can find beautiful beaches in this area, and it makes a nice stop when you want to visit modern life again for a while.
Porto-Veccio is a town of bistros, boutiques, and cafes. If you're interested in enjoying the south France sun while doing a little shopping and eating in good restaurants with modern atmospheres, this is a good place to try.
Where to stay
Porto-Vecchio is particularly excellent for sunning yourself at the beach. The Belvedere, an intimate little hotel that is fairly pricey, is the premier place here to do that. This hotel is surrounded with water and sandy beaches, while its rooms are decorated in cool blues and whites that blend naturally with the seascape beyond its windows. An excellent restaurant is known throughout Corsica and beyond, and the grill offers less expensive dishes that are cooked over coals.
You can also look at the Grand Hotel de Cala Rossa, a well-known hotel and restaurant built right over the water. The surroundings are somewhat overdeveloped, but the view is lovely. Its restaurant is seen as one of the best places to dine in Porto-Vecchio.
What to see
Porto-Vecchio is not the greatest place in France for sightseeing, but it does offer a cork-oak forest, L'Ospedale. If you drive through D368 and go through the pass of Col de Bavela, you'll pass through magically beautiful terrain on your way across Corsica. There is a coastal road you can travel as well, but if you have a choice, the drive through the pass is well worth it.