Paradise Island

The cliffs of Bonifacio, CorsicaThe cliffs of Bonifacio, Corsica

Independent local travel advisor Jack Leaf presents a guide to Corsica, a Mediterranean island off the French mainland that is seeking to raise its visitor numbers from the UK.

The mountainous Mediterranean island of Corsica has been French for over 200 years. The Corsicans are proudly independent of the mainland and feel closer to their Italian neighbours, not least those on the island of Sardinia, just a 30-minute ferry crossing from the south of Corsica to the north of Sardinia.

Of course, as a tourist embarking on a holiday to a Mediterranean island, it's good to know your destination has many good quality beaches, such as Plage de Palombaggia, which is one of the most famous on the island. But there is more to Corsica than beaches, for Corsica is regarded as chic and sophisticated. Take a look at the swish Casadelmar hotel, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, located just outside Porto Vecchio in the south-west of the island. Contemporary in style yet designed to merge with its environment, the hotel is known for its hospitality and gastronomy, which encapsulates what Corsica is all about. And just across the bay is La Plage, which is a more relaxed family venue stretching out onto its own puff sandy beach.

The island is larger than most people realise; it has three international airports. Air Corsica is inaugurating direct flights in May 2018, with sociable flight times from Stansted to Figari, Ajaccio and Bastia and taking only two hours. Fares are very reasonable as the airline creates a presence in the minds of Londoners seeking somewhere near that is experiential, that is more than just a beach and a hotel.

With a rich military and naval history, Napoleon is probably Corsica's most famous citizen, born in Bonifacio in 1769 just as Corsica passed from Genoan to French rule. Bonifacio is the oldest town in Corsica, balancing on top of a cliff overlooking a natural harbour with Roman origins: who cannot dream of the shimmering sea, the beautiful boutique shops and relaxing in family restaurants and soaking up the sun's rays in the kerbside cafés?

Porto Vecchio is the premier resort, with its magnificent yachts adorning the marina, fashionable bars and restaurants catering for the jetset, and beautiful beaches and high mountain scenery showcasing why Corsica is a great destination to enjoy trekking and nature in general. The clear seas are perfect for snorkelling and diving, the land terrain perfect for cycling. For those partial to wine, head to Sartene, made infamous by piracy and gangsters but now making the most of its valley for growing grapes.

I've only focused on the part of Corsica I know best (there's so much to enjoy on this idyllic island). So, jet off to Corsica and enjoy its uniqueness, and get there before everyone else discovers it!

Jack is based in Snaresbrook – visit destiny-travel.co.uk or call 020 8989 6764. For more information on Corsica, visit wavidi.co/corsica


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