Our crossing from Ville Franche on the French Riviera to Calvi in Corsica took 18 hours – 15 of those under motor! We witnessed a beautiful sun set, in the company of Blue Papillion, a 98ft luxury sailing yacht built by Jongert, (worth a google!) & a beautiful sun rise as we approached Calvi. We later shared the photograph with the new Dutch owner of Blue Papillion who was anchored close to Money Penny in the bay at Calvi the following day.
Sunset Sunrise Approaching Calvi
Calvi is a town on the northwest coast of Corsica. A medieval citadel overlooks the marina and cobbled streets lined with restaurants and shops make it an interesting town to explore. During the war with Revolutionary France, the British Forces under Admiral Nelson, captured the city and it is during the bombardment of Calvi that Nelson is said to have sustained the injury that lead to him losing his eye.
We anchored in the bay outside of a field of mooring buoys which are situated outside of the Marina and following a morning catching up on sleep, we took the dinghy in to explore. The views from the Citadel across to our anchorage were stunning, with the Corsican mountains in the distance. The Citadel was a disappointment as it was almost completely deserted, although there were signs of cafes & shops that must open at some point during the peak season!!! We spent two days in this very attractive town before moving on.
2 hrs free on the Quay at Calvi including Free water & Electric. This is a service offered in a number of marinas in Corsica to enable boat owners to leave their boats for a short period of time at quiet times of the day to shop or visit a restaurant.
We filled up with fuel & (free) water in Calvi and over the next few days we visited a number of beautiful coves on the West coast of Corsica whilst heading Southwards - Galeria, Girolata, Cala di Palu.
Giirolata was recommended by our friend Herve and it certainly met our expectations! A small village in the Scandola Nature Reserve, inaccessible by car, during the summer months it becomes a busy tourist destination. People arrive either by boat or foot to find the most amazing scenery. Small cafes (tents mainly) pop up along the shoreline, and we even found a cow selling icecream!!!
On the 2nd of July we reached the milestone of 4000 nautical miles since leaving Milford Haven!
On the 4th July we headed for Ajaccio, the Capital of Corsica, stopping onroute at the lighthouse ………………for a swim before anchoring east of the marina. We anchored outside the marina, beside the main road into the town, where we spent the first evening exploring the ‘old town’. Napoleon was born in Ajaccio in 1769, his ancestral home, Maison Bonaparte, is now a museum, and we stumbled across a celebration of Napoleons life in the form of a re-enactment.
We were slightly disappointed with the town as we found it to be dirty and unkept.
On our second day, we had read about a train journey that was a must apparently. The ‘little train’, which runs on a narrow gauge railway, takes passengers through the stunning scenery of Corsica’s interior, with mountains rising to over 2,600 metres. The full journey involves 32 tunnels (one of them 4km long) and 76 bridges and viaducts (including the 140m long viaduct above the Vecchio River, engineered by Gustav Eiffel). We took the 2hr journey to Corte in the centre of the Island and spent 3 hours exploring this beautiful hillside village with its pavement cafes and prominent citadel, before returning to Ajaccio.
On our way back to the train station we stumbled upon the finish line for a mountain endurance race. The winning competitor was expected any moment and the race commentator was full of excitement at the impending arrival. We stood with the waiting crowds (a reminder of Ironman in Tenby) and watch the winner cross the line. The race had commenced at 11pm the night before and involved 107.7 km/7200m+ of endurance running. Definitely not for the faint hearted!