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Explore the island of Corsica with a Cicerone guidebook - Introduction

Cover of Walking in Corsica
13 Dec 2013
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.1cm
No. Maps
No. Photos
1st Published
1 Nov 2003
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Walking in Corsica

Long-distance and short walks

by Gillian Price
Book published by Cicerone Press

This guidebook gives details of 3 long-distance walking routes in Corsica - Mare e Monti, Mare-Mare Nord and Mare-Mare Sud - which cross the island, and also describes 18 day-walks in prime spots both in the rugged mountains of the interior and the softer southern coastal fringe. Good local information.

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The 'scented isle', or Corsica, is a paradise for walkers and leads to a memorable holiday. The stunning, time-tested, Mare e Monti, Mare-Mare Bord and Mare-Mare Sud long-distance walking routes, criss-crossing the magnificent island, are presented in this guide. A total of 26 days are spent on coast-to-coast routes through the rugged mountainous interior and the softer south, along with the exceptional coastal fringe. A supplementary section has a selection of 18 day-walks in prime spots, allowing you to explore the towering forests, gushing cascades, beautiful isolated coves, aromatic maquis and spectacular river gorges. Top scenery and unspoilt nature are unavoidable! A fantastic range of comfortable hostels and well-run hotels ensure the walker is never far from their overnight stop and the enjoyment of some excellent catering.

With its informative colour maps and photographs illustrating the guide, and its valuable content this is the long-distance walkerís ultimate guide to the randonnées of Corsica.

  • Seasons
    Any time of year for the coastal routes, but avoid July and August - too hot and very busy! March to May is best for flowers; May to September best for the mountains.
  • Centres
    Calvi, Cargese, Calenzana, Moriani, Corte, Porto-Vecchio, Propriano, Ajaccio and Bonifacio.
  • Difficulty
    Mainly fairly easy to moderate walking, with two shorter walks of a more challenging nature.
  • Must See
    Views of the Aiguilles de Bavella, ancient bridges and villages, mountain and coastal scenery to take your breath away.

July 2015

p87 the bridge over Riviera St Antoine is no longer there so be prepared to wade over or balance on stepping stones. Further on the way has been rerouted via Chapelle St Marie en route to Quenza.

p118 Walk 8 the ford is now a bridge

p140 the Mare-Mare Sud out of Quenza has been rerouted via Chapelle St Marie and the bridge over Riviera St Antoine is no longer there so be prepared to wade over or balance on stepping stones

(Thanks to Wanda)

Sept 2014 Corsica Health warning - from Centre for disease control and prevention

Updated: August 04, 2014
According to the European Centre for Disease Control 6 people were infected with schistosomiasis on the island of Corsica (France). All of the travellers were exposed to the freshwater in the Cavu River and had not traveled to other areas where schistosomiasis is known to occur.

CDC recommends that travellers to the island of Corsica avoid exposure to freshwater to prevent schistosomiasis.
What can travelers do to protect themselves?

There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent schistosomiasis. If you are in an area where schistosomiasis occurs, you should avoid having your skin exposed to freshwater sources, such as lakes, rivers, ponds, and wetlands. If you get potentially contaminated freshwater on your skin during a trip to areas where schistosomiasis occurs, talk to your doctor about getting tested and treated.

Avoid wading, swimming or bathing in freshwater in countries where schistosomiasis occurs.
Swimming in the ocean or in well-chlorinated pools is safe.
If you have to use freshwater, such as lake or river water, for bathing, treat the water in one of 3 ways to avoid infection:
Filter water with fine mesh filters (pore size of 30 μm or smaller) to remove the parasite.
Heat bathing water to 122?F for 5 minutes to kill the parasite.
Keep water in a storage tank for at least 24 hours before use to kill the parasite.

If you feel sick and think you may have schistosomiasis:

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
Tell them about your travel. Describe in detail where and for how long you travelled, and explain that you may have been exposed to contaminated water. Ask if you need to be tested for schistosomiasis.

Sept 2014

page 43 Mare e Monti. Day 5

Day 5  Girolata to Curzu. The path has been redirected and now follows what is described as the varient in the 2013 reprint of our book. The original route is now abandoned and extremely overgrown, with some paths fallen away and sometimes no water available. Please do not use this original route from Girolata, which is now abandoned.

July 2012

P139 The bridge over the  river San Antoine has been washed away.  When we were there last month  the water was low enough to ford easily.  It looks as though they are preparing to replace it.

Sept 2011

Mare e Monti Day 6 - pp45-46 - the path has been rerouted and no
longer touches on the D81 road. Follow waymarking carefully and you walk
directly into the village of Serriera.

September 2010

The maps for Mare e Monti are sheets 4149OT, 4150OT and 4151OT

July 2007

p69 and pp123-6
The bridge over the River Tavignano is no longer a hanging structure, but has been rebuilt with steel and wooden beams.


When to Go
Getting to Corsica
Local Transport
What to Take
Food and Drink
Plant Life
Further Reading
Long-Distance Walks
Mare e Monti: Calenzana to Cargèse
Mare-Mare Nord: Cargèse to Moriani
Mare-Mare Sud: Porto-Vecchio to Propriano
Short Walks
1 St-Florent Coastal Route
2 The Fango Valley
3 Visiting Girolata
4 Spelunca Gorge
5 A Calanche Walk
6 Capu Rossu
7 The Aïtone Forest and Rock Pools
8 The Paglia Orba Loop
9 The Tavignano Bridge
10 Glacial Lakes in the Restonica Valley
11 La Cascade des Anglais
12 Trou de la Bombe
13 Foce Finosa
14 Zonza–Quenza Circuit
15 Cucuruzzu and Capula Archaeological Sites
16 Punta di a Vacca Morta
17 Piscia di Gallo Waterfall
18 The White Cliffs of Bonifacio
Long-Distance Route Summaries
Glossary of French and Corsican Terms


‘The land of the vendetta, the siesta, complicated political games, potent cheeses, wild pigs, chestnuts, succulent blackbirds and ageless old men who watch life go by'

R. Goscinny and A. Uderzo, Asterix in Corsica

Add to the above rugged mountain ranges, crystal-clear rivers, turquoise coves, romantic forests, the unforgettable scents of the maquis scrub, easygoing people, comfortable hostels and refuges, together with a host of well-marked paths, and you have, in a nutshell, an unparalleled paradise for walkers.

Its shores lapped by the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas, Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus. It has a surface area of 8682km2 (3352 square miles), is 183km (113.7 miles) long and 83km (51.5 miles) wide, and is blessed with a stunning 1000km (621.3 mile) coastline. Moreover, some two-thirds of the land mass is taken up by an ancient mountain chain punctuated by a good 20 peaks well over 2000m (6500ft), while one-fifth is forested, and since 1972 a sizeable regional nature park has covered a vast 3500km2 (1351 square mile) central swath of the island.

Corsica – or Corse in French – is administered by France, despite the fact that it is closer to Italy in both cultural and physical terms. A mere 90km (56 miles) separate it from the Tuscan coast, not to mention the narrow 11km (7 mile) strait with Sardinia, while it lies 170km (105 miles) from the Côte d'Azur in the south of France. The population of approximately 260,000 includes large numbers of mainlanders, along with a sizeable percentage of people of North African and Italian origin, drawn by work. In contrast it is said that due to unemployment more native Corsicans live in France than on the island itself.

Fanciful tales abound to explain the island's name. Phoenicians, the first seafarers to arrive, apparently referred to it as Ker-Cic (‘slender promontory'). The Greeks came a little later and for them it was Kurnos (‘covered with forests'). Legendary Greco-Roman hero Heracles put in there after labouring to fetch the golden apples at the world's end. He left one of his offspring, Kyrnos, in charge – hence the name. Perhaps the most colourful story comes courtesy of Roman mythology, wherein it belonged to a maiden called Corsa who had swum across from Liguria in pursuit of a runaway bull! Continuing the worldwide need for an explanation for events and naturally occurring phenomena, to this day island life is infused with incredible accounts of miracle-working native saints at odds with ghostly spirits and the gruesome acts of the devil.

View to Girolata and Capo Senino from Punta Literniccia (Mare e Monti)

Corsica's very first inhabitants are believed to have migrated from north Italy around 7000bc. These hunters and gatherers developed into herders, and were joined by later arrivals responsible for the prehistoric menhirs and dolmens dotted through the hills. As is the fate of settled islands, vulnerable by their very nature, Corsica was raided periodically by Saracens and Barbary pirates, then occupied at length by the Pisans, who left some lovely Romanesque churches, and the Genoese, who stayed from the 13th century through to 1768, when they ceded it to France at a price, leaving a heritage of memorable citadels, watchtowers and bridges. In the meantime island-wide rebellions had produced an enlightened period of autonomy under Pasquale Paoli (1755–69), concluding curiously at the same time as the birth of Napoleon Bonaparte at Ajaccio. There were also limited stretches under English sovereignty, as well as occupation by the forces of Italy and Germany during the Second World War when soldiers all but outnumbered locals. The ongoing independence movement, fiery at times, has dropped off considerably of late. It won 24% of votes in 1992 but a mere 16% in 1999. A 1990 French statute gave the island limited autonomy, however a greater measure was narrowly rejected in a historic 2003 referendum. There continues to be occasional violence from Corsican separatists.

Corsica is catching up with the rest of France and Europe in leaps and bounds in terms of standard of living, though figures remain marginally lower in terms of income, schooling and employment. The lack of industrial development, a negative factor in the past, is now turning into an advantage as visitors are attracted to this unspoilt paradise. Tourism is rapidly becoming a major factor in the economy, alongside livestock and agriculture, with cork, tobacco, wine, citrus fruit and olive oil all being produced for export.

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