Corsica is a large French Mediterranean island, that is actually closer to Italy than France; it is something of an undiscovered gem, as far as non-French visitors are concerned. It is also one of the least spoiled and warmest parts of France, so selecting gites in Corsica is great for those looking for a perfect Mediterranean island experience. Corsica lies across the Ligurian Sea, some 110 miles south-east of the French Riviera, and is over a 100 miles long itself. To the south lies the Italian island of Sardinia, and to the east the Italian mainland.
The terrain is very mountainous, with the island being formed from a series of volcanic eruptions and it is known as the steepest island in the Mediterranean. There are over 20 peaks higher than 2000m on Corsica and most of the slopes are forested - in fact, over a third of the island is dedicated to Nature Parks. The Corsicans are proud of their mixed Genoese and native ancestry, and the first language of most is Corsican, although French is a fluent second language for the majority.
Many seek out the gites in Corsica because they want to experience the pristine and gorgeous natural environment of this island. The island is gifted with a vibrancy unlike many other Mediterranean islands and has a range of micro-climates, as you move up the steep slopes. Corsica is well-equipped to cater for tourists wanting to take in all of its splendours. There is an extensive network of hiking routes, connecting the many Natural Reserves.
Corsica is also known as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and his home-town of Ajaccio is the capital of the island; a fine museum dedicated to this pre-eminent French leader is an interesting place to visit. This town is home to many superb Genoese buildings, as well as fortifications ancient and more modern. Some excellent self catering villas are to be found both in town and on the surrounding slopes.
If you are planning to travel around the island, using a hired motorbike or car, do take account of the following tips. Firstly the roads in many parts of the island are narrow, and often plunge down steeply with little fencing. Take great care on blind corners and although the locals may be too proud to honk the horn, tourists shouldn't be!
It is also the case that garages can be few and far between, so do make sure that your tank is topped up before any longer journeys (hill climbs do eat into your fuel). It is a good idea to have a credit card handy, as many garages don't handle cash transactions after 7pm, for security reasons.
Being an island, getting to Corsica relies on flying, or sailing in. The island is relatively well catered for in terms of airports, as there are four on Corsica. The main airports for international travel are in Ajaccio, Calvi and Bastia. Ferries can be booked from France or Italy - Italy is in many ways the better option, due to its proximity, leaving from the port of Livorno to Bastia. But fast ferries from Marseille, Toulon or Nice can get you to Corsica in between three and five hours.
Once on the island, travelling is best done by car - so a rental car hire company is normally the first stop, before heading off to your gites in Corsica. The public transport system is not well developed, with most locals owning cars. That said, the train journey between Calvia and Bastia offers some quite stunning views and is worth taking just for the experience.