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Unforgettable Cycling Holiday Corsica

Follow Corsica's most beautiful coastal roads from Bastia to Ajaccio! This is a superb trip that will allow you to enjoy the best that Corsica has to offer, using the same roads of the amazing third stage of the Tour de France 2013. From the northern capital of Bastia, you will cycle to Ajaccio, the birthplace of Napoleon. For the most part, you will be cycling along the stunning and varied western coastline. You will have the chance to visit the Balagne region, which has wonderful beaches and picturesque mountain villages, and the area around Porto which has quite rightly been named as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Key information

  • Trip type: Self-guided
  • Lodging: Point-to-point
  • Terrain: Mostly paved, hilly
  • Difficulty levels: Easy (Cyclist does not need to have a certain level of fitness, mostly flat terrain though occasionally they will ride in unpaved or hills, 10-30 miles per day); Moderate (Cyclist needs to have a good level of fitness, the terrain is mostly hilly or unpaved but they will ride on flat terrain sometime,31-45 miles per day)
  • Total distance: 288 or 347 kilometers / 179 or 216 miles
  • Vacation type: Leisure
  • Type of bike: Hybrid bike
  • E-bike: Available to rent

Highlights

  • 6 self-guided bike tour
  • Starts in Bastia and ends in Ajaccio
  • Information package with maps and road-books on the smartphone app
  • Luggage transfers on each stage
  • Daily breakfast will be provided
  • Local assistance by phone
  • 7 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate

Styles


6 cycling days in English
The organizer also speaks: French
Group size: Minimum of 2 participants
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Accommodation

The accommodations used in Corsica are of very variable categories: bed-and-breakfast (five rooms maximum), small charming two, three, or four-star hotels, and gites. There are also a few very upmarket establishments in the five-star category. The "Accueil vélo" label is a national brand that guarantees quality reception and services along cycle routes for all cyclists.

It is the guarantee for the bicycle tourist to be less than five kilometers away from a cycle route, to have adapted equipment (secure bicycle shelter, repair kit), to benefit from an attentive welcome: useful information and advice (circuits, weather, etc).

Program

Day 1: Arrival in Bastia

Your trip starts in Bastia, the capital of "Haute Corse" (upper Corsica). Settle into your hotel in the afternoon and spend some time wandering around this interesting town. In particular, it is worth visiting the ancient Citadelle, the Place St Nicolas, and the old harbor. There are plenty of excellent restaurants to choose from for your evening meal. Spend the night in a three-star hotel.

Day 2: St. Florent

This first stage leads you over the col de Teghime (536 meters) where you have a beautiful view on both sides of the island. On your way down to St. Florent, you can stop in Patrimonio for a "short" wine tasting. The region of Patrimonio is well known for its vineyards. For the very courageous ones, an 85-kilometer stage can be done by cycling north of Bastia onto the Cap Corse and over the col de Santa Lucia (381 meters).

  • Distance: Around 26 kilometers (D+: 584 meters | D-: 581 meters | Minimum: 0 meter | Maximum: 552 meters)

OR

  • Distance: 85 kilometers (D+: 1407 meters | D-: 1399 meters | Minimum: 1 meter | Maximum : 393 meters)

Day 3: The Corsican desert

Today, you will leave the bay of St. Florent and head through the "desert des Agriates". In springtime, you will be accosted with the scents and colors of the wild maquis (Corsican scrub). After about 30 kilometers, you'll reach the coast again with a superb view of the "red island" that shelters the harbor of Ile-Rousse. Your overnight stop is a village just above it. Spend the night in a three-star hotel.

  • Distance: Around 48 kilometers (D+: 843 meters | D-: 642 meters | Minimum: 1 meter | Maximum: 363 meters)

Day 4: The Balagne

Today, continue southwards to Calvi. You have the option to stay high and ride through some nice mountain villages (with superb views of the sea) or take the shorter route along the coast (this is the main road).

Once you arrive in Calvi, it is worth visiting the Citadelle that overlooks the bay. A refreshing drink on the port is a must. From Calvi, you still have 37 kilometers to go on the coastal road. This has been named as one of the most scenic coastal roads in the whole of Europe, despite the fact that it is, at times, in bad condition. Tonight, you will spend your evening in a small fishing village and overnight in a two-star hotel.

  • Distance: Around 79 kilometers (D+: 1114 meters | D-: 1353 meters | Minimum: 0 meter | Maximum: 531 meters)

Day 5: Porto

Just when you thought the scenery couldn't get any better, it does! This is a superb day of cycling with breathtaking views along the whole ride. After a few warm-up kilometers, you'll start to climb the col de Palmarella (408 meters). From the top, you can see the bay of Scandola (a UNESCO World Heritage site).

Further on, you will climb the pass to the col de la Croix, after which you can enjoy some good downhill riding. You will cross the villages of Curzu and Partinello, before taking the last short climb that separates you from the bay of Porto. Spend the night in a three-star hotel (with a pool, if available) in Porto.

  • Distance: Around 51 kilometers (D+: 921 meters | D-: 903 meters | Minimum: 5 meters | Maximum: 411 meters)

Day 6: Piana and Cargese

This stage starts with a climb out of Porto to the famous "Calanques de Piana". This is an area with stunning rock formations and has also been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. You'll then cross the village of Piana and finally, Cargese, an ancient village built by the Greeks in the 18th century. Spend the night in a two-star hotel

  • Distance: Around 53 kilometers (D+: 703 meters | D-: 660 meters | Minimum: 10 meters | Maximum: 481 meters)

Day 7: Ajaccio

Already your last day on the bike. As it isn't too far to Ajaccio, you can do a round-trip to the bay of Lava and its magnificent beaches. Early arrival in Ajaccio allows a visit of the "iles sanguinaires" at the north cape of the Ajaccio-bay, or a tour of the city including, for example, the Tino Rossi harbor and Napoleon's birthplace. Spend the night in a three-star hotel.

  • Distance: Around 26 kilometers straight (D+: 648 meters | D-: 728 meters | Minimum: -1 meter | Maximum: 405 meters)

Day 8: Tour ends

After breakfast, your tour comes to an end. If you rented bikes, they'll pick them up at the hotel. Transfer to the airport or back to Bastia (possible by train) on request.

Europe Active App

Discover the Europe Active application for smartphones. Find out more about your stay, your itinerary, and your accommodation. The smartphone application will make your trip fun and easy to follow. Everything you need for your holiday is with you in one single place.

Using GPS navigation, the application will guide you in real-time. Also, including in the app, all the things to see during your trip, such as famous places, museums, and much more; and to make sure you sleep well, you will find the details of all the accommodation for your holiday. The application is available for phones using Android or on an iPhone.

Before you leave, download and install the Europe Active application on your smartphone and follow the instructions that will be sent to you by email to connect to the application.

Particularities

The Grande Traversée (GT 20) is a new cycle route, a major 600-kilometer tourist cycle route linking north to south and with 9500 meters of altitude gain, punctuated by 12 stages.

Thanks to the road books spotted and written by Europe Active, a clever mix of itineraries crossing the island, you will be in communion with its shores, its islands, its varied fauna and flora, its vineyards, its gastronomy, its typical and historical villages. You will be transported in a particular and unique atmosphere in the world. Europe Active now offers unique digital road-books.

Rental of bicycles

The bikes available for hire are aluminum or carbon road bikes, conventional mountain bikes/hybrid bikes, or electrically assisted bikes (EAB). The equipment provided is a helmet, handlebar bag, rear panniers, and bottle holders. The bikes are always serviced between each rental.

  • Rent onsite or come with your own bike?

It’s tempting to want to come with your own equipment when you’re used to it. Apart from the space that a bicycle takes up in addition to luggage, it can also be damaged in transport and airlines do not always offer the possibility of transporting them to Corsica. An e-bike is not transportable by plane because of the lithium battery.

Don't panic, renting allows you to benefit from a quality service: the equipment is robust and adapted, the Trek brand is privileged. It also allows you to experiment with other types of bikes, a carbon road bike or a VAE which will be a real ally in the dusty climbs and will help you in your efforts against the wind. The autonomy of the batteries is largely sufficient for daily stages up to +/- 80 kilometers.

If you have your own bike, make sure you have it serviced before you leave, that the tires and brakes are good. This brings additional costs to your stay. And if you have a problem on the spot, the holiday can become complicated. Be careful when transporting on a rear bike carrier, check the bike's fixings and the legibility of the number plate.

Keep in mind

  • Wearing a yellow vest is mandatory at nightfall and in the event of poor visibility (fog, heavy rain, etc.)
  • Wearing a helmet is compulsory until the age of 12 and is highly recommended for everyone.
  • Most routes are on low-traffic roads but shared with cars: keep to the right in single file.

Level of difficulty: Medium

Stages from 26 to 52 kilometers with up to 800 meters h.d. On some, you have the choice between two routes, longer or shorter

Carrying

Your luggage gets transferred from one accommodation to the next. You only have to carry what's needed for the day.

Location

Corsica, the island of beauty, wild and secret, is a destination that makes you dream, on the seaside with its incredible white sandy beaches, on the mountainside with its peaks, forests, rivers, and scrubland. The itineraries will allow you to drive along the seaside roads as well as the superb cliffs.

You believe you have seen everything or you just want to ride a bike in an amazing location? Try Corsica, with its mountains, seaside roads, and its amazing culture, you will love it. This remote island away from mass tourism is a gem for those who love riding and discovering.

Discover this natural heritage, which has not finished surprising you with the diversity of its landscapes. From UNESCO Heritage sites to prehistoric sites, sandy beaches to old laricio pine mountains’ forests, be surprised with the variety Corsica is showing you.

To the north, after a visit to Bastia and its old port, follow the roads of the Cap Corse where local cyclists spend their week-ends, then discover the west coast: the Agriates desert, Calvi, Ile Rousse, without forgetting the UNESCO Heritage Patrimony’s Scandola Nature Reserve, the Calanques de Piana and the Gulf of Porto. So many stunning routes ideal for cycling.

To the south, visit Ajaccio, Napoleon’s birthplace and its Sanguinaires Islands, Propriano, Bonifacio on top of its cliff overlooking the sea towards Sardinia and the beautiful beaches of Porto Vecchio; and don't forget the center, climb up through the Castagniccia in the north and the Alta Rocca up to the Aiguilles de Bavella with suggested routes suitable for all levels. Heaven for riders willing to challenge themselves with winding tiny mountain routes.

Discovering Corsica by bike is a real pleasure, a beautiful adventure with splendid and varied landscapes, an incredible relief, and very pleasant roads. E-bikes are allowing new possibilities and removing any limit to the cyclist riding level. Road-bikes are one of the best ways to discover the island if you are a strong cyclist and look for long and challenging rides.

Hybrid bikes allow you to make the most of the scenery and have multiple stops on your way. Europe Active has a whole range of bikes for rent you can choose from. Like many regions in France, Corsica now has its own appellation placing it on the list of the most beautiful cycling regions in France: La Grande Traversée, or GT20.

Europe Active has associated itself with this project of a cycle route which proposes 600 kilometers of tracks with 9500 meters of difference in altitude, crossing the island from North to South. To date, it has 12 steps: Bastia, Centuri, Saint Florent, Belgodère, Calenzana, Galéria, Porto, Vergio, Corte, Ghisoni, Zicavo, Zonza and Bonifacio.

During the crossing, connection points with the GR20 will be discovered. For the time being, the route is ready to be ridden but will be gradually improved with new signage and terminals for charging e-bikes, bike repairing, etc.

Food

Corsican gastronomy is also varied and generous. Between traditional Corsican delicatessen (prisutu, coppa, lonzu, and figatellu) and goat's and ewe's cheese (brocciu) without forgetting the specialties such as cannelloni with bruccio or lasagne with wild boar, bruccio fritters, fiadone, and other delicious chestnut flour cakes.

The honey is also produced in Corsica and has a PDO label "mele di Corsica", unique with six different varieties just like the olive oil which also has its own PDO (Oliu di Corsica). Corsican wine (to be enjoyed with moderation when cycling) also contributes to the island's fame with the wines of Patrimonio and Ajaccio and the famous Muscat du Cap Corse. Tastings are possible in many domains (Patrimonio, Calenzana, etc).

Myrtle, chestnut, cedar, and lemon liqueurs are served as digestives in most restaurants. You will have a wide choice between refined cuisine or homemade pizzas, with Mediterranean cuisine, traditional inns, or straw huts by the sea. Europe Active will suggest several ideas depending on your budget and your step.

Breakfast is generally suitable for cyclists and should get you through the day. A snack at midday will give you the opportunity to take a break on your stage, as recommended in your roadbook.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Must-sees

Bastia is a pleasant town with its old port, its citadel, the Governors' Palace, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, and its museum. The Cap Corse offers the wildest places on the island with magnificent viewpoints. Stroll through fishing villages such as Erbalunga, Macinnagio, Centuri, and their Genoese towers.

Enjoy a stop at Nonza, a village perched on a cliff with a breathtaking view of the pebble beach. Saint Florent with its fortified citadel, its marina, its pedestrian streets, its dream beaches, and its protected gulf. The crossing of the Agriates with a visit around Calvi and Ile Rousse.

Discover the wonderful Scandola Reserve and its sumptuous landscapes, from the Calanques of Piana to Porto, one of the most beautiful sites classified of world interest by UNESCO. Its roads are narrow, sinuous, and spectacular with Calanques that plunge into the sea.

Not to be missed

The visit of the Lavezzi Islands, very unique, excursions from Bonifacio. The island has rich and varied vegetation with many endemic plants that you will have the opportunity to observe and feel through the roads in the maquis such as, the arbousier, the rosemary, juniper, myrtle, and the famous immortal used in cosmetics and essential oil.

You will be able to listen in certain villages and churches, during local celebrations, concerts or festivals, the famous and so particular Corsican polyphonic songs. U chjam'e rispondi (poetic jousts) and a paghjella, traditional songs sung in three voices a capella.

What's included

  • Information package with maps and road-books on the app (a smartphone is required)
  • Local assistance by phone
  • Luggage transfers on each stage
  • Daily breakfast
  • 7 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers
  • Hybrid bike rental (TREK FX2 with delivery and repatriation included): 155 EUR
  • Electric bike rental (TREK UM3+ with delivery and repatriation included): 215 EUR
  • Aluminum road bike rental - Compact crankset (TREK Domane AL3 with delivery and repatriation included): 215 EUR
  • Carbon road bike rental - Disc brake (TREK Emonda SL6 with delivery and repatriation included): 295 EUR
  • Transport to Bastia and from Ajaccio
  • Unplanned transfers
  • All other meals and drinks
  • Insurances
  • Personal spendings

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Corsica counts four airports: Bastia, Calvi in the north, Ajaccio, and Figari in the south. Flights are direct and departures are operated from many cities with two to eight flights a day depending on the season (Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Nantes, Nice, Toulon, Clermont-Ferrand, Toulouse, etc.) but also with the possibility of departing from England, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, etc. Most companies will accept bikes on board.

Regular companies are Air Corsica, Air France et Hop. Low-cost companies are Easyjet, Volotea, Transavia, and XL Airways.

Arrival by boat

Five Corsican ports are served by sea from the mainland: Bastia and Porto Vecchio on the east coast, Ile Rousse, Ajaccio, and Propriano on the west coast. Boats leave from Marseilles, Nice, Toulon, and also from Italy from Livourne or Savone. The crossing can be done during the day in 5 hours (express) for more comfort, it can also be done at night and lasts 10 hours. The companies that serves Corsica are Corsica Ferries, Corsica Linéa, and La Méridionale et la Moby Lines.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 30% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
8 days / 7 nights
from --
Availability

This holiday is available daily from the beginning of April to mid-October.

Low season
  • April, May, October
Mid Season
  • June and September
High season
  • July and August
Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 2 participants

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