The Balagne is represented primarily by Calvi and Ile Rousse but it also consists of hilltop villages. Part sea and part mountain. There’s something for everyone. Step in time with a succession of music festivals, cinema, voice and theatre arts as well as through athletic and religious events. With its immense olive groves, lemon and almond trees, it is especially well known as the “Garden of Corsica” and because this Eden is punctuated with a multitude of religious buildings, (Roman chapels, Baroque churches, Franciscan convents) the local residents have chosen to rechristen it the “Saint Balagne”. La Balagne is comprised of two Communities of Communes:Calvi-Balagne and Ile Rousse Balagne.
Calvi is one of the most visited tourist sites in Corsica: the city has no lack of advantages: a beach 5 km long, a lively port and a marina where you would do well to take advantage of the sun for a coffee or breakfast. Its pedestrian street is ideal for time for shopping where souvenir stalls, food shops or clothing shops featuring Corsican designers, will offer something for everyone. The Boulevard Wilson and its bars with shaded terraces, the Citadel full of history and its playful walkway with audio guide.
The other celebrated seaside station is the Ile Rousse. Founded in 1758 by Pascal Paoli to fight against the blockade imposed on Calvi by the Genoese, it draws its name from the porphyry rocks of the île de la Pietra in front of it. You must not fail to stop and take the time to discover the three small beaches of white sand surrounding it, and take a coffee at the Place Paoli, in the shade of hundred-year-old sycamore trees right next to the covered market where Corsican specialties are available for you, stalls with charcuterie and cheese sit side by side with fruits and vegetables in season. The market street in the Ile Rousse offers a whole multitude of products: high-end groceries, souvenirs, crafts, beach clothing or top-of-the-line boutiques, where you’ll find something for everyone.
As soon as you get away from the seaside, the Balagne becomes green and agricultural, and its terraced villages are a good place to take sunny strolls in a calm, natural setting. Around Montegrosso, Calenzana, bordered with olive trees, is very popular with visitors, especially because it is the starting point for the famous Cross Country Trail for the GR 20, and also because it houses the triple-nave Church of Saint Blaise and the Church of Saint Restituta celebrated every weekend after 21 May, one of the oldest on the island. Other nearby options to see: Lunghignano and its old oil mill, Cassano and its town square in the shape of a star, Montemaggiore for its panoramic view on the Gulf of Calvi, the eagle’s nest of Sant’Antonino, celebrated for its mule walks and its fresh organic lemon juice served cool under a lemon tree … The craft centres in Pigna or Corbara and its incredible baroque church. Of course, hiking trails begin in villages and enable you to discover the Reginu Valley (starting in Belgodere), Olmi Capella, Mausoleo and Pioggiola, to name just a few. Finally, discover the artisans’ route and meet the men and women that keep ancestral knowledge alive: violin makers, ceramicists, basket makers, cutlers, potters as well as organic cosmetics, painters, jewellers, and more.
La Balagne is also a sporting destination! In addition to the many pedestrian races, car rallies, trails that take place there, L'Ile-Rousse hosts the Le Paoli International Pétanque Tournament every year, and Calvi is transformed into a playing area for the Calvi X-Tri. Not to mention the 200 km of hiking trails and the FFC Balagna MTB Site which offer trails for all levels of difficulty in unforgettable places. Ideal for exploring villages and mountains! And if the effort seems too intense, circuits for mountain bikes with electric assistance will delight all lovers of original discoveries.
Whether you are with friends, alone, as a family or as a couple, Corsica offers you a multitude of visits or activities to enjoy all year round. Get inspired by our “Best Of” of the must-sees in Balagne:
The perched villages of Balagne: San Antonino, Pigna, Corbara
The Agriates desert and its flowering maquis in spring
The chapel of Saint John the Baptist cathedral housing a black Christ
The Reginu, Losari and Belgodère valleys
The Bonifato forest, the Figarella river and its natural pools.