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Report 2028: Two Travellers on Corsica

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Spring 2012

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Page 12 of 14: Corte - Friday October 12

photo by Doug Phillips

The Citadel in Corte

Today we backtracked a bit from Cargese toward Ajaccio and followed the N193 through the middle of Corsica, returning to Bastia. That's the reverse of the second stage of the 2013 Tour de France, which starts in Bastia and ends in Ajaccio.

If you look at Corsica on a map and stick a pin in the exact center, chances are you've located Corte ... Well, actually that's a bit of poetic license. Corte is a bit north of the exact center of the island, but it sounds better if I put it right in the middle.

Pronunciation of many place names is a real challenge on Corsica. For example, in Corsican, Ajaccio is pronounced "eye YACH u" and Cargese becomes "CAR geeze." However, Corte is a snap, especially for Canadians. It's pronounced "court EH."

A vibrant university town, Corte owes its importance to history, in particular Pascale Paoli, an 18th century product of the Enlightenment, author of a democratic constitution and a Corsican patriot. If you didn't know Corte was there on your drive through the middle of Corsica, you would be amazed when you arrived. A visitor to Corte approaches the town in the modern lower section, but most of the interesting parts are in the haute ville, with the cours Paoli being the dividing line. Corte was the epicenter of Corsican nationalism in the ultimately unsuccessful struggle against, first the Genoese followed by the French over 200 years ago. This tumultuous history is reflected in the street names, cafés and statues in the 21st century. One of the "musts" on any visit to Corte is a walk up to the Belvédère and a photo of the Citadel. It was well worth the effort - an image I won't forget.

Lunch at Café Paoli in the place Paoli, at one end of the cours Paoli. What can I say? I'm a Paoli fan. However it was a big mistake - mediocre food and service. You notice that in France, since it's not a common experience. But, the cashier in the mini-market opposite the café was great - friendly and engaging - a nice guy and much more typical of all our travel experiences.

Le Fortin de Pasciola, below, is near Corte. It provides a pretty good idea of the mountainous interior of Corsica. The small building in the distance, about mid-way through the video, was used as a jail by the local strongman back in the 18th century. He was not a popular guy.

We arrived back in Bastia in the late afternoon after driving through heavy traffic in the commercial area around the airport south of the city. We spent our final evening at the same Best Western as our first few days on the island.

In the evening we returned to the old port area where there is a wide selection of restaurants. However, the reviews are decidedly mixed. On each of our three visits to the area we only had one or two options we were seeking. This evening we weren't looking for a memorable dining experience - just a pleasant dinner at a reasonable cost. Les Zephyrs, on the Quai des Martyrs de la Liberation, delivered - two salads, two plats, one dessert, one café, and a liter of wine - total €43. The food was very good, the reception and service was friendly. I would return, knowing what to expect. A husband and wife couple do all the work. Superior value.

Next: Nice, Monaco & home

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