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L'Île-Rousse, France
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Corsican Magic L'Île-Rousse  France

Corsican Magic

For our first visit to Corsica, friends encouraged us to start in the south- the Michelin-starred stronghold of the island and beachy birthplace of Napoleon. But crisp turquoise water and a mountainous landscape awaited to the north.

We began in Bastia then drove the sinuous roads that led up to the Cap Corse, where we spent days exploring the wild beaches and sand coves that endow the peninsula. The drive to there was unforgettable as much for its vistas as its surprises. Traveling before the height of tourist season meant that the narrow, vertiginous roads were mostly clear of other drivers but we hadn't anticipated the herds of cattle that dangerously roamed behind sharp turns and jagged cliffs. Caution is key, we learned.

Next destination: Corte, the island's historic capital and fortress town but not before stopping in the coastal towns Ile Rousse (the photo above) and Calvi. Ominous clouds welcomed us to Ile Rousse and soon gave way to pelting rain and buffeting winds, nearly ruining our brief stay.

Fortunately, the gloomy veil never sticks around long. One of my fondest memories from our trip was the moment the rain tapered off and sparks of sunshine suffused the sky from behind a few lingering clouds. We ambled the beach for a while before nestling into a spot on the sand as sundown approached. Staring fixedly into the horizon, we wondered if we had ever seen a place so beautiful. Nature's offering here wasn't merely the backdrop but the power to transform.