Like hills and mountains? You’ll love cycling in Corsica!
I spent a week exploring the many long ups and precipitous downs of Corsica – one of the world’s most beautiful cycling destinations.
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Italy. It is part of France with a population of just 300,000, but it can get pretty busy during the summer as many Europeans covet the pristine beaches and seaside towns. October is a great time to go as the temps still rise into the 80s, but vacationers are gone, and there are remarkably few cars. Haute Corse, the northern part of the island, is by far the most popular for cycling and best accessed through the Bastia airport.
My approach to a solo unsupported bike tour is to rent a car and find a central location for the territory I want to cover. Of course, nothing beats your own bike (Air France from Montreal, the bike is $125 USD each way, but make sure you pass through CDG airport in Paris). There is something comforting about staying put and coming back to the same shower and bed. Making friends with the hosts and earning their cell numbers is valuable in case the need arises for a pickup. And you become more steeped in local lore with an understanding of the best food and wine in town. I stayed in Oletta, about 30 minutes from the airport and all my rides began with no more than a one hour 15 minute drive to get to a point of departure.
Great routes for cycling day tours in Corsica
Cap Corse West: Nonza – Pino – Nonza (35 miles, including a few detours down off the bluffs to fishing villages)
In case you go – a few tips for happy rides in Corsica:
- There is a great bike shop on T11 just south of Bastia called Velo Shop.
- St Florent is the most beautiful town with the best restaurants in Haute Corse.
- SPAR supermarkets are in most large towns.
- Be so careful setting bike off pavement or gravel – tire popping PRICKERS everywhere.
- Watch for barbed chestnut shells on the roads– get off and walk if dense.
- Beware the bullshit and the bulls running loose.
- Some speed bumps are cobbled and tires can get caught – take these at an angle.
- Paying constant attention, you can often see cars coming at you and through hairpin turns you can see cars coming from behind. On the downhills, you are likely going as fast as the cars following.
- Choose your parking spots carefully. Space is at a premium and it is possible to get boxed in.