Ajaccio is a French commune on the island of Corsica. It combines the best of French and Italian cultures, and is famous as Napoleon Bonaparte’s birthplace. Known as the ‘mountain in the sea’,Corsica has more than 50 peaks over 2000 metres, glorious beaches, colourful history and some stunning scenery. And the perfect way to see it is in a campervan rental.
From Ajaccio, you can reach Sardinia, Italy, by just taking the ferry. There is also a ferry operating from Ajaccio to Marseille or Nice if you wish to explore the Frenc Riviera.
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Ajaccio and more, a trip in Southern Corsica
Unsurprisingly, Ajaccio’s airport is called Napoleon Bonaparte Airport. It is the base for Air Corsica, which has services to mainland France. Other airlines offer routes to many European destinations.
From Ajaccio, head to the very southern tip of Corsica to take a boat tour from Bonifacio, for views of limestone cliffs and caves, or the lunar-like atmosphere of Levezzi Island.
Where to stay in Ajaccio
Camping Benista is 12km south of the city. It is situated on a riverbank and has a swimming pool and shops.
Camping Les Mimosa is a 10-minute drive from Ajaccio.
Culinary Delights, eat and drink in Ajaccio
Corsica has some distinct foods that you must try. They are most famous for their ‘charcuterie’, sausages and ham. The Corsicans raise their pigs outdoors, where they can forage for yummy things such as chestnuts. The meat is then aged for a good length of time, from 12 to 36 months. Veal is another highly praised dish. Herb and grass-fed veal is often cooked with olives. Bruccio is a Corsican appellation cheese, with a cottage cheese-like texture and will be found in omelettes, pastas and desserts.
Le 20123 Restaurant is an Ajaccio institution. The restaurant has a courtyard set up like a Corsican village square, complete with clothesline and water pump. They serve a set four-course menu of authentic dishes which has remained unchanged for 25 years. If you’ve had enough of campervan cooking for the evening, indulge here.
What to see and do in Ajaccio
Be prepared to be immersed in all things Napoleon in Ajaccio. The house where he spent his first nine years is now the Maison Bonaparte Musee, and provides an insight into the life of Napoleon and his siblings. If you still need to know more, visit Salon Napoleonien, a tiny museum on the first floor of the Hotel de Ville. Here you will find portraits, medals and a fantastic frescoed ceiling of the diminutive dictator. Also, Palais Fesch was established by Napoleon’s uncle and houses the largest collection of Italian paintings outside of the Louvre.
For something different, head to Cupulatta, a turtle and tortoise sanctuary. There you will find over six acres of natural turtle habitats, with well cared-for residents, from giant Galapagos turtles to terrapins. There are breeding, incubation and research facilities too. But you need to be reasonably spritely to negotiate the walkways and steps here.
Filitosa is an 8000-year-old, pre-historic site, where archaeologists have uncovered evidence of ancient civilisation. There is plenty to see and ponder:Are those Neolithic standing stones phallic symbols, meant to fertilise the earth, or could they be funeral monuments to revered warrior chiefs? Fascinating stuff.
Head out of town to Prunelli Gorges, a half-day walk which will give you amazing views over the bays back to Ajaccio, and an appreciation for the local flora and fauna.
Driving Tips for Corsica
Corsican roads are challenging, many of them winding and coastal. Off the main roads, the by-ways become very narrow. Slow down, and allow for the size of the camper when negotiating bends. Look out for straying animals, dogs, pigs and goats.