Cycling holidays are the trend of the moment. The notion that you can discover a region in a few pedal strokes is seductive and novel; to the point of positioning “cycle tourism” as a flourishing sector.
The beautiful escape
Cycle tourism is an important sector with a promising future within which Corsica could quickly find itself in an ideal position. Is the island on the verge of creating the beautiful escape? It has the finery. Breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. Sunny climate all year round. But more importantly, it is giving itself the means.
Two major flagship projects, backed by the Corsica Tourist Board (or the ATC - Agence du Tourisme de la Corse, as it’s known locally) are about to bring in radical change. And are fundamentally revisiting the “nature-sport” ethos by placing it on a pedestal. “INTENSE”, “GT20”: behind these acronyms are two cycle routes which cross the island from North to South, between mountains and sea, stoking desires for new horizons. INTENSE, as part of the Itinerari turisticu sostenibili (sustainable touristic itinerary), offers a Corsica-Italy route with a stop off by the Alps. It will pass through the island’s west coast. As for the GT20 (GT stands for “grande traversée”), its route is linked with the island’s inland villages and is connected to the legendary GR20. But whatever the route taken, doing tourism differently is going to set the pace. This last one is nothing less than authenticity...
GT20: The “grande traversée” from Cap Corse to Bonifacio
This is the brand new flagship of the Corsican Tourist Board’s cycle tourism provision. And it’s going to create a following. With its 12 stages spread over 550 km, the route is very much worth doing. Whether you do it by road bike, mountain bike or the novel electric bike, you will see another side to Corsica.
When the island’s winding landscape is transformed into a fantastic adventure playground, this creates one great ridge that stretches from Cap Corse to Bonifacio, a series of connecting circuits and the smell of escapism. The grande traversée lives up to its name. In its trail, the discreet charms of mountain villages, a bird’s eye view of the sea and a possible adventure-excursion to the GR20’s ethereal peaks. Thrill seekers and those who simply crave a change of scene to have a little fun will be satisfied. Whether you’re an accomplished athlete or simply a hedonist, the choice is vast. To each their own GT20 as it were; it’s all about enjoying variety.
And there’s some other good news! The electric bicycle is now an option! Young start-up Appebike is heavily involved in the project and “Bosch”, a manufacturer of battery motors, is also involved. Recharging stations have already been set up along the route, which unfurls along a north-south axis. The town of Bastia is the point of “departure”. Next, the route follows the Cap towards Ersa, a little village with only 150 inhabitants that, together with its 11 hamlets, is famous for its windmills. Then its onwards to the UNESCO Site with Porto and its impressive panorama sculpted from blocks of red granite. A fork down to the town of Corti is also on the agenda and we can’t forget the stretch along the col de Verghju, located at 1,400 metres and the GT20’s highest point. Finally, the route ends in Bonifacio, a town that sits out on its own promontory. This is the main route but there are also a number of variations and connecting routes to be considered. A network with the intercommunalities has been set up in addition to a route which would take the island’s east coast along the old railway line. Behind these routes, obviously, the island has a number of stated goals. The main one being to have a hiking or cycling excursion offering that covers the entire island. The ATC intends to bring together its strengths in cycling and nature activities around a structural tourism project. The Board is also trying to rebalance tourist flows by highlighting what the Corsican inland has to offer. By developing dedicated stay content. Lastly, the ATC is moving towards sustainable tourism, in line with the tourism roadmap which eventually plans to make Corsica “the Mediterranean’s green island”.
- A 10-day itinerary. To be done in full or in part.
-Renting an electric bike for a full week costs €135 in total and €10 per extra day.
-When it comes to services, Appebike, the first start-up to position itself on this route, has thought of everything. Electric bikes will be delivered to your departure point then collected again on arrival. There is also the option to have your luggage transported between stages (prices start at €200 per person per day)
There are currently 10 charging stations set up along the route.
INTENSE, a cycle route in the heart of the Mediterranean
With “Intense”, as a sustainable tourist route, the ATC is playing another card, and this one is European and Mediterranean. The project: a Continent-Corsica-Italy route. A trailblazer on so many levels, and rather coastal in nature, Intense has what it takes get bicycle lovers excited. As well as sports lovers in general.
Change of gear and focus on cross-border partnership. With sustainable development as its common theme, Intense is the fruit of a collaboration between 14 partners from five regions (Corsica, Liguria, Tuscany, Sardinia and the Maritime Alps). There is a total budget in the region of 5 million euros that may be increased in the coming months, 85% of which is financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund). Regarding the Corsican route, the ATC has been given the role of leader. And it is Corsica’s West Coast that has been chosen for the final itinerary. Even if other are options are obviously still possible. But marginally.