Corsica 2008

On March 16th to 23rd, 2008, I spent my time cycling around Corsica in order to explore this wonderful island for the first time in my life. I have long wanted to visit Corsica and was happy to finally get there. I have heard that it is generally better to go there early in Spring, but I also found that it could be a chilly place and accomodation and food may be hard to come by. I was happy the place was not spoiled by tourists everywhere (I guess I did not see more tourists than I could count on my fingers during all the visit.) I saw other road bike cyclists three times all in all (and never higher up than 400m).

I tell a little on the side of the photos here and you could manually advance the photos to read the text or just let the slideshow play to get a quick idea of what the adventure was like.


I started the trip by taking the plane from Gothenburg, Sweden to Nice (the plane was redirected just before it should land at Marseilles airport to Nice). Ryanair promised to arrange for a bus to take us back to Marseilles, but then just left us stranded at the Nice airport in the middle of the night without a word or compensation (which is standard according to the airport personell at Nice airport). I had to take a regular bus back to Aix-en-Provence early in the morning as I had booked only one night at a B&B in Ventabren where the man should come and pick me up at the Marseilles airport. Still I wanted to go there as I needed a place to put my big bicycle bag while going to Corsica with the ferry from Marseilles later that day. Despite nearly no sleep I assembled my bicycle, had a late breakfast at the family in Ventabren and took off via some hills and passes to Marseilles and the ferry that leaves at 19 pm for Ajaccio each day.

I got terribly late and had trouble finding my way through the big city of Marseilles (I did go nearly the shortest way though) and arrived at the ferry just 15 minutes before it left. The ferry is a good way to get to Corsica and I was there just after 7 am and was thus up early in the day.

The weather was very varying, but turned colder later in the week as you see in the photos. All in all Corsica was a very nice island and I was lucky many times during the trip. Thankfully I had brought some leg warmers and minimal protection aganst the cold. It was a bit warm a few times also and Spring had arrived in the coastal areas, but not quite yet inside the island. Some more facts on the other side.


The Facts

Saturday March 15th: Ventabren to the ferry at Marseilles Gare Maritime via the passes Col de la Roussargue & Col de l’Espigoulier (highest point 728m).

Sunday March 16th: Ajaccio (Corsica) to Sta. Maria. (4121 height m, 182 km, 6-22C, 9h26m cycling time, 21 cols/passes.) Had a spoke break on my rear wheel. Was up on the highest point during this vacation at Val d’Ese at 1630m.

Monday March 17th: Sta. Maria to Bonifacio (southest city on Corsica). (3362m, 173,3 km, 5-18C, 9h57m, 18 cols.) Reached Bonifacio just as it had turned dark (a very nice city).

Tuesday March 18th: Bonifacio to Col de Bavella (1218m). (4049m, 177,6 km, 5-23C, 9h35m, 14 cols.) Cycled the last climb up to the Bavella/Bavedda pass in the dark only guided by the stars and moonlight ;-). Got a bed at a hostel at the top of the pass even though it had not yet opened for the year.

Wednesday March 19th: Col de Bavella to Corte (only real city inside the island). (3471m, 179,6 km, 5-19C, 10h1m, 10 cols.) Highest cyclable pass (with a road bike) visited at 1523m at plateau de Coscione. The day ended in heavy rain near Corte. No food between breakfast at 9 am and some snacks in Vivario at 18 pm.

Thursday March 20th: Corte to Oletta (nice village near St. Florent). (3726m, 190,2 km, 1-17C, 10h24m, 19 cols.) Down to St. Florent for dinner (best pizzas on Corsica) in freezing temperatures even at the sea level. Only some chocolate to eat between breakfast and dinner at 20:30 pm.

Friday March 21st: Oletta to Feliceto (small village in the mountains above Calvi). (3189m, 115,8 km, 3-21C, 6h53m, 11 cols.) Had horrible stormy weather and later snow storm and very fierce rain storm on the way down from Bocca di a Battaglia (1099m), which was a real “battle”. Was invited to stay for the night at a very nice family in Feliceto (as the rain storm did not stop while it was light outside).

Saturday March 22nd: Feliceto to Corte. (3668m, 196,6 km, 0-19C, 9h34m, 13 cols.) Passed over Bocca di Verghju (1477m) which is the highest normal paved passroad on the island. It was snow at the pass and very cold down. Very nice around Porto by the coast earlier.

Sunday March 23rd: Corte to Ajaccio. (2037m, 103 km, 6h17m, 0-20C, 7 cols.) Last day and the coldest and worst of them all. It started with rain and then heavy snowfall already at 600m altitude. Cars where not allowed over the Vizzavona (1163m) pass unless they had chains on the wheels and many had to turn around, but I got over. Extremely cold on the way down, still did another snowy pass before getting down to Ajaccio and the ferry back.

Monday March 24th: Marseilles ferry to Marignane Airport. (2003m, 98 km, 8 cols.) Almost missed the plane as the mistral winds started to blow heavily against me as I was trying all too late to get back to Ventabren and my bicycle bag there. Managed to arrange so my bicycle bag got to the airport and had to pack it down there and checked in 2 minutes before they closed the check in.