The area of La Balagne combines sea and mountain, making it a great adventure playground for those who explore it.
Time to enjoy the Indian summer in Corsica... on a family weekend break in Balagne! Here is my handy little notebook with cool ideas for young and old.
A short break aboard the beach train… We wait at Ile Rousse station for the "Trinichellu", tickets in hand!
Upon arrival at Ile Rousse station, we discover the real Corsican train... made up of just a few wagons, just as we imagined it to be! Blue and white, and a little rusty, but so authentic! Travellers on the platform wait impatiently to board one of the three wagons. There are looks of curiosity and many a discussion as, in a boisterous hubbub, we climb aboard the "Trinichellu", often affectionately referred to as the "trembler" and even the "little train" by the elder members of the community.
We strike up a conversation with our neighbours… encouraged by our proximity to other travellers! Holiday experiences, the day's weather, summer temperatures despite it being autumn, so much to talk about! We suddenly recognise the train as being a great way of reconnecting with people. Once the engines start up, attention transfers to the outside, where we witness a succession of beaches, each more beautiful than the previous, and seeing delighted children gazing at herds of sheep, cows and kites (of the feathered variety!) This rail trip is feeling like it was a really good idea...
Windsurfers parade in front of us at Ponte Bambinu station! The day unfurls slowly towards the end of the afternoon, revealing the coast and its paths in autumnal mode, but still playing host to walkers and swimmers. The open windows of the wagon offer us the unmissable opportunity to take beautiful souvenir photos.
The smell of the sea spray and the scent of the scrubland are notable with each stop requested: l'Algaghjola, Sant'Ambrosgiu, Lumio, Santa Restituda, Ghjorghju, U Pinetu… People get on and off as they please, and the expressions are all ones of joy, you cannot help but smile at this wonderful experience! Holidays in Balagne are incomplete without this trip aboard the "Trinichellu" and its 45-minute journey from Calvi to Ile Rousse, offering a total change of scenery.
The beach train, ("train des plages"), as its name suggests, serves all Balagne beaches, from Calvi to Ile Rousse and back. Its old-fashioned charm and rudimentary comfort have not changed in decades, and promise a journey through time set to the rhythm of the trembling of its old body.
Audio-guided tour of the Citadel of Calvi… Alleyways brimming with history in a pleasant and exotic village atmosphere!
We discover the secrets and important places of the Citadel of Calvi with the help of our audio guide, including the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and its Black Christ, the Place d'Armes, the Tour du Sel (Salt Tower) and the ruins of the family home of Christopher Columbus, as well as designer boutiques, delicatessens and a wide choice of cafes and restaurants. Some have breathtaking views of the bay of Calvi and the surrounding mountains, such as the famous "Chez Tao" cabaret, which has welcomed a whole string of celebrities from all over the world. Time to stop for a few minutes for a drink, and what better place? The view is breathtaking with the port lying at our feet, Monte Cintu, the highest peak in Corsica before us, the Calvi pine forest, the beach restaurants and their colourful umbrellas...
The alleyways of the Citadel are reigned by a sweetness of life and a feeling of tranquillity which contrasts with the bustle of the city just below... And in autumn, the light is so soft that it allows you to see the seabed far away in the Bay. Explanatory numbered plaques are set in strategic places to help us navigate the mazes of the Citadel.
The Ostriconi Valley and exploring the village of Lama and its Heritage Trail
Cobbled streets, nicely maintained gardens, a breathtaking view and exceptional built heritage... Cue the village of Lama, and its 2-hour walking heritage trail just waiting for us. The sign near the Church of San Lurenzu shows us the route to take... It is intended for a wide audience, with little changes in level, and signage to avoid getting lost! All the indications bode well for a pleasant walk. It is 9:00 am, the weather is clear and the sun is starting to illuminate the mountains facing the village. The children are impatient, time to get going!
The visit begins in the village's maze of alleys with few people in evidence, but still exuding a warm atmosphere with its pretty stone houses, colourful window boxes, bougainvillea climbing to the upstairs floors of the houses and nicely arranged terraces in front of the entrances, and the autumnal ambiance just waiting for the village to wake up. We stop to read a little on the information panels about the interesting places, such as A Casa Monti bearing the name of the parish priest of Lama Gian Stefano Monti who became the President of the Provisional Administration of the Department of Corse, A Torra - Casa Lellè Masisani, former defensive tower of the village whose foundations date from the Middle Ages, and other treasures such as the Palazzi or the Belvédère... So many discoveries for inquisitive children to enjoy!
We continue our route along a small gently sloping path. We are anticipating an exceptional panorama at the end of it. The spectacle is indeed striking when we arrive on the small plateau of Luzarellu! It is 9:00 am in the morning and the October sun floods the surrounding mountains, and we feel a sense of tranquillity gazing upon the immensity of the landscape... We then head off to explore the old gardens of the village, located in a valley... Time to quench our thirst at the "Funtana Bona"! The route ends at an unusual location, that of the cheese cellars of Maison Corallini... But that's enough from me, it's up to you to follow the beautiful Lama Heritage Trail and discover it for yourself!
A visit to Calvi is not complete without a visit to its Citadel... it is still inhabited, and has retained its cobbled streets and built heritage over the centuries. Built by the Genoese, it seems to watch over the city.
Very easy to use mp3 players, available in 4 languages - French - English - German - Italian - are accompanied by a map listing the 11 landmarks along the route.
Access to the region is quite easy. Calvi-Sainte-Catherine airport is connected to many continental cities, from Paris and Lyon, to Nice and Nantes. Air France, Air Corsica, EasyJetand Transaviaall have flights. Boats from Marseille, Toulon and Nice serve Ile Rousse throughout the year. Corsica Ferries, Corsica Lineaand La Méridionaleprovide regular services. By train, Calvi is linked to Bastia, Corte or Ajaccio by a TER (via Ponte-Leccia). The roads are good, especially along the coast.