Sunday, June 30, 2013

Corsica- A Mediterranean Gem

For the first time in its 100 year history, the Tour de France cycling race is highlighting the beauty of the island of Corsica.  The first three stages of the event are run on the island from Porto Vecchio to Bastia (stage 1), from Bastia to Ajaccio (stage 2) and from Ajaccio to Calvi (stage 3).

The Greek called  it Kaliste ("The most beautiful") and Corsica merits its nickname "Ile de Beaute" (beautiful island).  The fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, Corsica offers a variety of landscapes from rugged coastline with sheer cliffs, sandy coves and azure blue sea to tall mountains with lush green slopes that smells from the fragrant herb scented maquis. Corsica 's numerous delights beg to be discovered time and time again.

Come on....Follow me on my tour to beautiful Corsica.

Western Corsica -A Breathtaking Rugged Coastline 
The Gulf of Porto has the distinction of being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the resort town of Porto you can explore nearby natural wonders such as the Scandola nature reserve, Europe’s only land and sea reserve; the Spelunca Gorge, a canyon of breathtaking beauty and the Calanches of Piana, inlets with amazing giant granite sculptures that turned from orange to red according to the time of the day.
Central Corsica- Forrest, Rivers and  Lakes 
For an authentic taste of Corsica try the island’s interior where you will encounter small villages untouched by time, lush forests, mountains with tall peaks, lakes, splashing rivers and waterfalls. From the historic town of Corte, you can set out on hiking trips to the nearby Restonica and Tavignano Valleys. For energetic on foot exploration, the famed long distance GR20 lead well fit hikers to the island’s highest peaks.

Cap Corse, the Northern Tip of the  Island 
Bastia  was founded by the Genoese in the 14th century and was for a time the island’s capital. It is the gateway to the narrow mountainous promontory of Cap Corse which faces the coast of France. Explore tiny coves guarded by Genoese towers and picture perfect little fishing villages.

Eastern Coast -Beautiful Expansive Beaches 
The Eastern side of the island, between Solenzara and San Nicolao are long stretches of  fine sandy beaches bordered by pine and chestnut forests. So, enjoy a relaxing seaside vacation in the inviting waters along the Costa Serena or Costa Verde where you can partake at multitude of water sports such as swimming, fishing, jet skiing, sea kayaking, surfing, sailing, diving and more.

In the south, you will be  impressed by the citadel town of Bonifacio perched precariously atop a limestone cliff jutting out to sea at the southern tip of Corsica

The Megaliths of Filitosa -Unesco World Heritage site
Near Sartene, impressive alignment of sculpted Menhirs dot the countryside dating some 6000 years ago. 

Ajaccio, Napoleon’s birthplace, is set in one of the most beautiful gulfs in the world with mountains in the backdrop. Ajaccio’s light and colors worked wonders on Matisse who reportedly fell in love with the south when he came for a visit. Here you can enjoy a stroll around the old port lined with pastel colored houses and inviting cafĂ© terraces.

Wild pigs and boars, ruminating cows, herds of goats and sheeps deambulate  freely along the country roads and even on the beaches . 

The traditional gastronomy  of Corsica offers luscious cheese, charcuterie, fresh seafood and pastries made of chesnut flour. Delicious fruits and vegetables from the fertile plain of the Balagne region are the staples of the corsican meals. 

Corsica has an important wine production ranging from the fruity wine of Patrimonio to the more robust eastern vin de corse.

When in Corsica, you must refresh yourself with the sparkling  local water Orezza.  No other brands will do here.  Sante!!

tags: Corsica 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

There is more to Cannes than the Film Festival

The glamorous resort of Cannes on the French Riviera is well known for hosting the International Film festival.   For two weeks in May, Cannes (KAN) bask in the limelight as movie stars, producers, directors and anyone involves in the cinematic industry come together to preview a selection of  new  full length features as well as documentaries.

But, Cannes is not all glitter and glam ; in  many ways it has retain the charms of a French Riviera coastal town and here are five reasons to make Cannes your destination of choice on the French Riviera  anytime of the year.

Cannes is set in a wide protected bay on the Mediterranean Sea.  It is lined with sandy beaches, unlike the pebbly beaches of Nice, its neighbor.   Tourists and locals alike enjoy strolling  along its handsome waterfront promenade- La Croisette-- lined on one side by the blue Mediterranean sea and on the other  by palace hotels like the Martinez and the Majestic Barriere.

The Old town of Cannes, Le Suquet is uphill and dominates the old port.  It is fun to explore its  maze of narrow alleys, lined with small restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, arts and craft boutiques and art galleries.  At the top of the hill, stands the 12th century Church Notre Dame de l'Esperance.  From here, you can get a good view of the Bay of Cannes.

Marche Forville is a colorful covered market where the locals shop daily for the luscious locally grown fruits, vegetables, fish and other products .  It is a feast for the senses.

If luxury shopping is your thing, then Cannes is ideal.  In one compact area - principally along the rue D'Antibes and along the Croisette boulevard you will find a selection of famed luxury brand names.

         From Cannes, you can take a 20 minute ferry to the Lerins Islands - Sainte Marguerite and St. Honorat. These small islands, covered in scented pines and eucalyptus trees are far from the glamour of the Riviera ; nature in all its beauty dominates  here.  No cars are allowed on the islands and marked hiking trails invite visitors to explore the island at leisure.  The island of Saint Marguerite, was an island prison - legend has it that the Man in the Iron mask is believed to have been imprisonned here.   The  Island of St. Honorat is inhabited by twenty five or so Cisterian monks living in the oldest monastery in the western world; it was founded on the island in 410 AD .  They live happily in this idyllic setting producing wine, olive oil and the famed Lerins liquor.

Tags: Cannes, French Riviera

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Rouen Armada 2013

This weekend and through June 16, Rouen hosts the 6th edition of the Armada-- a sailing event that takes place every 4 years in the Normandy port town.  50 beautiful sailboats, warships and other sailing crafts from around the world sail up the River Seine through the beautiful landscape of Normandy to settle in Rouen harbor .Visitors strolling along the quays can admire the boats, enjoy concerts, entertainment and fireworks.