France: Corsica

Southern Corsica

Wine regions of Ajaccio, Sartène, Figari and Porto-Vecchio
By Tom Fiorina

This Guide was last updated on 18 July 2013
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Main towns and villages


Even if Ajaccio isn’t really a 'Destination City', the capital of the island merits a short visit, particularly the older part, concentrated around the port, with its narrow, pedestrian streets and colourful houses and shops. Certainly, you cannot talk about Ajaccio without mentioning Corsica’s most famous native son, Napoleon - La Maison Bonaparte, the house where the future Emperor spent his childhood, is one of the main sights of the vieille ville. Another is the Musée Fesch, which contains a large collection of paintings and books collected by Napoleon’s mother’s half-brother, the Cardinal Joseph Fesch. There’s a daily market where you can purchase Corsican charcuterie and cheese, cafés where you can sit on a terrace and people watch, beaches immediately south of the city in the village of Porticcio, and boat trips to the nearby îles Sanguinaires (see 'Other Attractions'), a sanctuary for birds, rare fauna and flora, and an excellent place for secluded swimming and good walking. Parking in Ajaccio is difficult all of the time, and almost impossible at the height of the summer tourist season.


Famously dubbed "la plus corse des villes corses" ("the most Corsican of Corsican towns") by 19th century French historian and archeologist Prosper Mérimée, Sartène is close to some of Corsica’s most famous prehistoric sites, such as Filitosa, Cauria and Palaggiu, as well as some of its nicest beaches around Propriano.


One of the most popular and lively tourist towns in Corsica, Porto-Vecchio has two parts: an upper town with little streets and the ruins of a medieval citadel, and below, the more modern harbor with plenty of expensive, trendy restaurants. The city can serve as an excellent base to explore the mountainous Alta Rocca area, with its scenic Forêt de l’Ospedale (a forested area above Porto-Veccho that has long been used as an escape from the oppressive summer heat at sea level), the Col de Bavella (a 1,218-meter high mountain pass), the Aiguilles de Bavella (jagged peaks rising to more than 1,600 meters in height) and the surrounding villages. It’s also less than 30 minutes away from the vineyards in the Figari appellation.

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