Corsica travel guide
Wow, that was good: three entire weeks on Corsica! Our much needed holiday brought us to l'Ile de Beauté, the isle of beauty. It was our second time on Corsica: after our first trip in 2010 we really wanted to go back and explore this wild island some more.
Corsica really is a beautiful French island with a perfect mix of wild mountains, turquoise sea and private beaches. If you like to be outdoors, walk, hike or hit the beach, this is your island. It is covered with maquis, fragrant evergreen shrubs that smell amazing. I love it! It smells of eucalyptus, juniper, laurel, rosemary, myrtle, sage, mint, thyme and lavender. The aromatic herbs grow everywhere and give that special holiday perfume to your trip. ♥
Before going I decided to give myself a break from social media and to let go of any I-need-to-blog-about-this pressure. The result was that I had a lot of fun sharing daily short stories over on my Instagram and that I took hardly any photos with my real camera for my blog. But then I received so many messages on Instagram asking where I was and if I had some Corsica recommendations. So yes, here we go!
► When to visit Corsica?
In July and August, Corsica is very touristic and busy, so if you have a chance of traveling in the spring or fall (or even the winter!): go for it! We visited in April/May and had many beaches to ourselves, when we hiked we usually only crossed paths with a few locals. And holiday rentals and hotels are more affordable too.
► How to get there?
You can either fly and get a rental car, or drive to Toulon or Nice and take a ferry from Corsica Ferries or Corsica Linea. We really wanted to be on a ferry during day time (I get seasick very easily) and thus opted for a ferry from Genua, Italy to Bastia (by Moby lines). I would recommend to get a cabin (even during daytime), so that you can relax and sleep and have some privacy.
► Where to stay?
• Hôtel Moby Dick We stumbled upon this hotel near the Santa Giula lake and beach. It's located in a peaceful area with a private beach and from the rooms with shutters you have either a lake or a sea view. I'd love to stay here next time on Corsica!
• Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa The hotel has a very classic style, but the location is amazing!
• We booked several AirBnBs during our stay because we wanted to cook our own meals. We booked this apartment in Sari-Solenzara, which was bright, spacious (especially for just the two of us!) and very clean. I also really liked this apartment in Bastia (where we didn't stay by the way!), mostly because of the yellow sofa ;)
► City life?
It may be due to the time of the year (read: off season) or my allergies for mass tourism that brings ferries and cruise ships full of tourists to the Corsican cities: I didn't quite fall for the urban areas of the island. Between Bastia, Île Rousse, Saint Florent, Calvi, Ajaccio, Corte and Porte-Vecchio, I liked Ajaccio best. And I also really loved the amazing Opuntia cacti near the fort walls of Calvi, which are huge, amazing, overwhelming! Don't miss the Sunday brocante in Ajaccio on the Place de Gaulle, it's really cute! I also really liked the village of Cargèse, which was calm when we visited. People in Cargèse were very kind and helpful and during the high season you can take a boat from here and visit the nature reserve of Scandola for example.
One tip if you want to invest in a breezy summer outfit: look for Karma Koma shops (in Bastia, Porto-Vecchio, Porticcio, Île Rousse, Calvi and Bonifacio).
► Where to chill?
• Little Capo (not far from Ajaccio). Hang out on comfy sofas with your feet in the sand, see the sun go down (in the sea, not behind a mountain!) and even do some shopping in the Little Capo boutique. It has a bit of a bohemian Ibiza vibe ;) (or what I imagine to be an Ibiza vibe, as I've never been there).
• The terrace of the Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa. We visited the Cala Rossa beach seven years ago and I never stopped dreaming of this place. Cala Rossa is a neighborhood just north to Porto-Vecchio and the Grand Hôtel is part of a gated community. We even spotted our dream home in this area, in a small forest of pine trees, sea view and large bay windows. It sold for around 4 million euros a few months ago.
• Le Yuka in Cargèse. Coffee, lemonade and salades with a retro vibe and sea view!
• La Sassa in Nonza (Cap Corse). Perfect for Sunday brunch or coffee with a view!
• Auberge A Tanedda in Bocognano. Not the best place to chill, but a really good spot to eat some simple traditional mountain dishes.
► Green souvenirs?
Whether you are allowed to bring home some plants from Corsica depends on the country you live in. As we technically stayed in France (with a little detour to Italy to catch the ferry), there were no legal restrictions. However, because of the parasyte destroying palm trees on the island, it is forbidden to take some specific palm tree seeds from the island.
On the side of the road and in public areas you can find a lot of nice succulents and cacti. I collected quite a lot of them (see here, here and here) and kept them in a few open boxes during our trip and potted them once we got home. Most of these plants are so easy going or even considered weed, that they can easily survive a few weeks without water and soil. They will always remind me of our holiday and make for the best souvenirs! Please note that the flowers and plants in the Parc naturel régional de Corse and all other Corsican nature reserves are protected and you're not allowed to pick up anything there. Just stick to the Opuntia, agaves and aloe that grow abundantly everywhere and you'll be fine!
I also visited several pépinières, garden centers and nurseries. Two of my favorites:
• Les Pépinières de Saint Ciprien (near Porto-Vecchio)
• Jardinerie La Ruche Foncière (near Bastia)
► Where to hike?
If you love walking or hiking (if you have to use your hands ;) ), Corsica is paradise! We went on several walks and hikes and these were our four faves. All of them are easy and up to 4 hours max.
• Gorges de la Restonica. One of the bridges in the valley collapsed a month before we visited and the road was blocked at 9km from the top. Which was also the start of the hike that we planned to do. Adding 18km to our hike was too much for us, so we decided to walk along the Restonica river instead. After the marked path stopped, we did some free hiking on the huge rocks that are part of the river bedding. It was quite a wild walk, but the reward, a spectacular view of a spraying waterfall, was well worth it!
• Sentier du Douanier, Cap Corse. You walk on typical Cap Corse hills that dive into the Mediterranean, with amazing views over the cliffs. It's a rather easy walk, but quite spectacular nevertheless. On one of the beaches along the way is a restaurant and bar where you can relax and grab a bite.
• L'ospédale, Piscia di Ghjaddu. It's a very easy walk to the Ghjaddu waterfall. Be sure to hike down to the foot of the waterfall, despite the warning that "after this point it's on your own risk", because the view from there is spectacular. If you stay on the platform you only see a small part of the waterfall, you really miss out on the highlight of this walk.
• Sentier du Facteur, Girolata. The village of Girolata, where Garance Doré grew up, can only be reached by boat or via this path. It's a scenic track with amazing views over the Mediterranean and the bay of Girolata and you pass by a large beach, where we met a group of wild cows.
► What else to do?
• Take the train! We did it twice and it was really cool! The train from Île Rousse to Calvi (and back) rides along high cliffs and through the maquis. A nice afternoon trip if you're based in either of these towns. More spectacular even is the regular train between Ajaccio and Bastia via Corte. It rides through the mountains and over dozens of bridges and you ride through areas that cannot be reached by car. We went from Bocognano to Ponte-Leccia, but the most spectacular part is definitely between Vivario and Corte.
• Visit Barretalli, where the ancestor of the lemon, the cédrat is grown. The itinery from Nonza to Barretalli was probably my favourite drive on the entire island! Beautiful seaviews and impressive green marble formations that are shaped by the wind!
• Check out the island from above via this 360° viewpoint called Serra di Pigno (not far from Bastia and Saint Florent). You can see a large part of the island from here, including the Cap Corse and the Italian islands like Elba and the Italian coast of Livorno.
For more travel ideas for Corsica, check out Alex's Instagram account (where all spots are geo-tagged!) or her blog On my way (in French), she lives on the island and loves sharing where she goes. For interesting hikes around the island, we used Basile's blog called Les Passions de Basile (in French) which is very detailed, including photos of the directions where you shouldn't go. Very helpful!
Urban Jungle Bloggers #35
New beginnings is the Urban Jungle Bloggers topic for this Spring season. And it couldn't be more appropriate with all my plants awakening from hibernation. One of my Euphorbia is growing new stems, the Begonia are growing new leaves every day, the giant Opuntia in the greenhouse is expanding with 37 new ears. Lots of new beginnings in my urban jungle here at home and I hope to grow some more babies too, in my newly installed propagation station!
In these past months I've been collecting laboratory glassware because I really wanted to build this so-called propagation station. It started with a nice lot of all kinds of Erlenmeyer flasks, petri dishes, Pyrex beakers and test tubes that I found at my local thrift shop. Every time new glassware came in, the chef let me know there was something new for my botanical experiments. And of course he had to remind (every.single.time!) me to play it safe, because he knew where to find me if I would cause a big explosion ;)
Anyway, together with the old glassware from the previous laboratory in our home it is a nice collection that is perfect for growing new plants in water. The first results are there: tiny baby roots on a Peperomia watermelon stem and more Tradescantia zebrina (from a cutting from Helsinki!). New beginnings and more to come!
But first a real holiday, that already started a few days ago. Time to unwind and to do anything but work. Very much needed to come back with fresh energy and ideas in May. If you like, follow me on Instagram, I promise I'll share a few peeks of beautiful Corsica!
Urban Jungle Bloggers is a seasonal series hosted by 2 bloggers: Igor (Happy Interior Blog) and Judith (JOELIX.com). Every month we share ideas to create an urban jungle through styling ideas, DIYs and green tips & tricks. You can find additional inspiration on our Urban Jungle Bloggers Pinterest board and keep up-to-date via Facebook or Instagram. Want to join? Find out how on our website and use #urbanjunglebloggers on twitter and instagram. Let's bring some green into our homes and blogs!
► For more New Beginnings, check out the gallery!
Le Refuge by Marc Ange in Milan
Marc Ange's pink day bed, called Le Refuge, was probably the most Instagrammed place in Milan during Design Week. I loved it so much that I also posted a picture, which instantly became my most liked picture ever. It features laser-cut steel pink leaves, a cosy mattress. Together with the blue sky and amazing shadowplay, I must admit this is quite a dreamy daybed. I would definitely risk striped tanlines for it ;)
Le Refuge or “The Imaginary World of Marc Ange”, the creation presented by The Invisible Collection in Milan 2017. Unveiled in the garden of the Mediateca di San Teresa in the heart of Milan, Le Refuge is the projection of a childhood memory; Its large leaves form a shelter under the sun, away from reality, just like those of the imaginary jungle that grows in the room of a child who seeks escape.
Together with the Green Gallery, in the garden of the Mediateca di San Teresa, where Wallpaper set up their Holy Handmade exhibition, they created a green hut that felt like the living version of Marc Ange's day bed, without the bed. A green refuge so to speak:
I liked how the eye catching pink of the day bed was reflected inside by using bright pink orchids, bromeliads, Anthura and Medinilla:
For this view I would definitely want to risk striped tanlines:
One of the reasons I love palm trees so much, is because of the beautiful shadows. The leaves from Marc Ange's daybed, are nearly as amazing:
What do you think? Is this something you would want in your dream garden? I know I would!!
mini LIVING breathe in Milan
One of the most sensational installations in Milan was definitely the Breathe tower in the Tortona district. When I heard it was all about conscious, healthy and green living I knew I had to go and see it for myself. Together with NYC-based architects SO-IL, MINI (from the cars!) introduced a creative problem-solving approach for future challenges in urban areas. In other words: how do we "live" in the future. In the next decades more and more people will live in urban environments, apartments will become smaller and more expensive, so we need to re-think how we live. According to Breathe: we will need to share more space and tools (for laundry or cooking for example) with others and make conscious decisions on how we use the few square meters we have. I must admit I was very happy to see that plants are an undeniable part of this concept, because they are vital!
Breathe consists of a tall tower in between two buildings and is composed of a metal frame that is covered with a white mesh fabric. You enter the home via a communal kitchen with modular elements and then reach the other 5 areas via a steep spiral staircase. These areas are for working, relaxing and taking care of yourself in a very minimalistic way, including a capsule clothing collection (!), a few books and some accessories, houseplants and different floor-seating areas and hammocks. As you can see in my photos, the tower is covered by a translucent mesh fabric that filters the air and makes the entire home look very airy and bright.
The entire structure is also "rebuildable" so you can move it to a new location and start all over. It's a bit like a contemporary tent or caravan. It almost feels like glamping ;)
The plants inside Breathe and on the rooftop terrace are selected for their air purifying powers, like this Kentia palm, the Philodendron and the Ivy:
A "hammock" for reading, relaxing and sleeping:
At the lush green rooftop garden, rainwater is collected and stored to use in the rest of the home.
What I liked most about this idea of transparent and translucent living is that, quite unexpectedly, you feel some kind of privacy in all the different areas, but at the same you're not far away from others.
The spiral staircase to the next floors, and the minimal and modular kitchen:
During my visit, the team from Dezeen was there to host a panel discussion with Oke Hauser from MINI, Ilias Papageorgiou from SO-IL, Jane Hall frpm London collective Assemble and Italian architect Carlo Ratti. The final words by Carlo Ratti were definitely what tied the entire Breathe installation together when he quotes Herbert Simon and Albert Einstein: "Science is about how the world is, design is how the world could be." This is definitely an interesting proof of concept!
Read more about the MINI living Breathe installation on Dezeen and Designboom.
My personal favorites from Milan 2017
Milan was good, really good. I'm in the middle of sharing all my favorites here on the blog, and I just couldn't not share these. But they didn't fit in: because they are my faves! For very different reasons (the colors, light, shapes or people behind it) so here we go.
When I pushed the door of Dimore Studio I was welcomed by an interior with the most stunning color palette I've seen in a while. The lady behind the counter kindly asked if she could help me and told me the actual exhibition was on the other side of the hallway. I passed the hallway and entered the wonderful world of Dimore Studio. The colors, the light, the materials used, the proportions: it made an unforgettable impression. I mean how cool is this thick transparant piece of this table construction?
And something I love so much in Milan: the hidden green patios, tereaces and balconies: a peek into the rooftop garden:
Currently I'm completely drawn to circular shapes. My entire Pinterest "Wishful Thinking" board is filled with round items. At the Dutch Design presentation by Baars & Bloemhoff I saw this light suspension by Sabine Marcelis called Filter created. It's made of high macs material and looks simply stunning! The only thing I don't get is the ugly white electricity cord. But hey, that's easy to replace with something more stylish ;)
At the Euroluce, the lighting exhibition of the Salone, my friend Tiff and I just had to visit our friends from LZF. Remember the garden party? This time LZF presented their new color PINK! This new shade (my favorite!) is such a good match for their lamps in translucent wood veneer: it makes them look even softer:
And I said hi to the big brother of my Smelli Fant: the life size Elephant:
Then off to Santa & Cole: they presented new lights by designer Anthony Dickens. Anthony told us that he was inspired by Cochin paper lanterns on a trip to Japan in 2010 and worked really hard to create a lighting system that combined this traditional way of working with paper, with the latest LED technology. The result is Tekio: a lighting system based on flexible structures covered by paper modules held together by magnets. You can create all kinds of different combinations, like wall lights, vertical pendant lamps, horizontal lines, circles and ovals.
Nina Masó, one of the founders of Santa & Cole, that we also met at the wonderful Parc de Belloch last year, welcomed the press during a special aperitivo:
Like last year, the food at Santa & Cole was something special: they invited Pepi de Boissieu to create a "Pu-erh" tea installation & ritual. More about that on Pepi's Instagram, if you like to know. And have you ever seen such a stylish way to cut off Spanish sausages?
So, here they are: some of my very favorites from Milan. I hope you liked them as much as I do? But there's more! I'll show you two other green projects later this week. So stay tuned!
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