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Report 2028: Two Travellers on Corsica

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Spring 2012

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Page 9 of 14: A Day in Ajaccio - Tuesday October 9

photo by Doug Phillips

rue Cardinal Fesch, Ajaccio

If you didn't already know that Napoleon was born in Ajaccio, you would figure it out pretty quickly from the banners, statues and store fronts as you walked around this attractive and prosperous community. According to a friend, a retired General in the Canadian army, Ajaccio has a colorful and turbulent history. It was a center of pirate activity in the distant past and the nexus of international smuggling in recent years. It is also the port of embarkation of the 2nd Parachute Regiment of the French Foreign Legion, based in Calvi. However, none of this was evident on our day trip from Cargese, a little over an hour away.

There was a lot of traffic as we approached the city shortly after 9:00am, but the roads were well-marked and we knew where we were heading. We drove down to the port area and parked for the day in a large lot. Ajaccio is a bustling community, with a metropolitan population approaching 100,000, but the areas of most interest to us are found in a compact district near the water in the older part of the city.

The main marché in Ajaccio takes up most of Place Foch. This market is unusual in two respects: it runs six days a week (except Monday) and it was the only market we encountered during our time in Corsica. Our walk to the market took us along the pedestrian-friendly rue Cardinal Flesch, named after a great art collector of the Napoleonic period. A small part of his original vast collection is on display in the Musée Flesch, an elegant building that is the most dominant one on the street. Of more interest to at least one of us were the shops. The rue Cardinal Flesch provided the best shopping of our time on Corsica.

There is a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte at the head of Place Foch, adjacent to the start of rue Bonaparte. A few steps along and on a small street on the right is a sign for "Maison Bonaparte." This family house, where Napoleon was born and spent his early life, is a national monument in France. For a former history teacher it was at the top of my list on a visit to Ajaccio. There were only a very few others visitors to the house when we were there. An enjoyable time - our leisurely tour took about 45 minutes.

Following our time in the "Maison Napoleon" we paused for a drink near the water and decided to split up for a while. I walked over to the Citadel, along the seashore and among the narrow streets of this part of the city, while Liz returned to rue Cardinal Flesch. We returned to our car in the late afternoon, bearing gifts for our sons, daughters, and grandchildren, drove back to Cargese, had a swim in the Mediterranean and enjoyed a bottle of wine on our patio, accompanied by some cheeses from the market. Dinner in the early evening at the apartment with the sights and sounds of the beach in the background.

Next: To the end of the road

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