Transcript for Episode 267: Fall in Love with Corsica

Category: Corsica

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Discussed in this Episode

  • Balagna Area [04:16]
  • Bastia [10:04]
  • In the high or medium season don't try to wing it with the hotels [11:34]
  • Strong regional culture in Corsica [14:10]
  • Prices in Corsica [16:12]
  • Corte and the citadel [17:51]
  • Nonza and La Sassa outdoor restaurant [20:32]
  • Col de Teghime {23:06]
  • Calanques de Piana [24:55]
  • Réserve naturelle de Scandola [25:21]
  • How to visit the calanques [26:12]
  • Hicking in the Haute Corse [28:04]
  • The village of Pigna [29:47]
  • The village of Sant'Antonino [30:23]
  • The gastronomy of Corsica: we mention a lot of local specialties in this segment! [34:05]
  • Is Corsica a vacation for couples or families or adventure seekers? [40:31]
  • How is Corsica different from the rest of France? [42:01]
  • Thank you patrons and donors! [45:05]
  • Annie's new Saint-Germain-des-Prés tour on the VoiceMap App [47:07]
  • A little bit of a health scare [48:03]
  • Quick update about the current strikes in France [50:42]

Annie Sargent  00:00

This is Join Us in France Episode 267 Bonjour. I’m Annie Sargent. And in today’s episode, I am delighted to have a conversation about Corsica with Michael Groves because he knows France really well and spends about half the year in France.

 

Annie Sargent  00:17

I’ve tried to get him on the podcast before, but he’s one of those guys who says, Oh, I wouldn’t know what to say. And then he opens his mouth and watch out! He’s a great resource of knowledge and inspiration about travel to France.

 

Annie Sargent  00:31

Michael keeps a really nice travel blog, which includes a great article about this trip to Corsica. You’ll find it at ml groves.com and there will be a link to it in the show notes.

 

Annie Sargent  00:45

If you’ve never heard of Corsica, it’s an island about 300 kilometres south of nice. You can fly into Corsica or take a ferry which takes about five hours. Generally speaking, this is not a vacation spot. That’s high on the radar for English speaking visitors, but it is such a wonderful place anyone wanting to go off the beaten track in France should consider it. Michael explored the northern part of Corsica what we call Haute Corse in French.

 

Annie Sargent  01:17

And his drive included Bastia, Rogliano, Centuri, Saint-Florent, L’Île-Rousse, Calvi, Porto, et Cargèse. Oh, as well as Corte. You can see a map of his trip in the show notes.

 

Annie Sargent  01:34

Now, this is not the sort of vacation where you rush from one monument to another. This is a drive, hike, swim and take pictures kind of vacation, eat and drink too. Of course, this is France! I’ve only been to Corsica once but it’s pretty clear to me that it’s a little bit of paradise on earth. Of course you can have a strong regional culture. They speak both French and Corsican with pride.

 

Annie Sargent  01:59

Their food and wine are remarkable and the scenery is hard to beat. It’s mountainous, it’s beautiful. Plus for history buffs, a lot of history that happened there, including Napoleon, you know, Napoleon. Listen, you might want to get inspired to add it to your list.

 

Annie Sargent  02:18

Show Notes for this episode are on Join Us in france.com forward slash 267. That’s the number 267. And if you’re planning a trip to France, the site is chock full of great resources, you should check it out, especially Episode 173, which is also about Corsica.

 

Annie Sargent  03:06

Michael Gross Welcome to Join Us in France. It’s lovely to have you to talk about Corsica.

 

Michael Groves  03:13

Merci, bonjour Annie

 

Annie Sargent  03:15

Bonjour, bonjour. Alright, so today we’re talking about Haute Corse. So this the upper part of Corsica, if you kinda draw a line across the island diagonally a little bit, we’re going to be talking about the part that’s the North. Yeah. Give it a go. Yes.

 

Michael Groves  03:38

Okay, if you take a look at Corsica and it might be a good idea for your listeners to have a map out.

 

Annie Sargent  03:45

I’ll put a map on the show notes.

 

Michael Groves  03:47

Okay, super.If you look at Corsica, it looks like a clenched fist with a finger pointing north. Yeah, and if you look at the base of that finger at the town of Bastia and then draw a line across Corsica to the west coast down to a small town called Cargèse. Yes. It is above that line where I spent. I spent the month.

 

Annie Sargent  04:14

Wow, a whole month! That’s lovely.

Balagna Area

Michael Groves  04:16

Yeah, it was 29 days. And I spent most of that time on the coast. Except for some trips to… a trip to  Corte, in the center in the mountains. And then I spent some time in the Balagna area on the west coast. The Balagna is like a county or a state. And I went up to some perch villages up there. Buut by and large, it was mostly on the coast.

 

Annie Sargent  04:48

Yeah, yeah. So this was not your first trip to France. You’ve been to France several times, right?

 

Michael Groves  04:54

I typically spend six months out of the year in France. So I’m in Antibes for three months. I’ve been doing that for close to 10 years. I have a bus pass. I have two discounted train passes and gym membership.

 

Annie Sargent  05:16

A lot of people are going to be jealous! I assume you’re retired? You also work at the same time?

 

Michael Groves  05:21

No, no, no, I’m retired. I haven’t worked for quite a while so. But anyway, I’m there in Antibes, I winter on the Riviera, I like to say that every once in a while.

 

Annie Sargent  05:32

Yes, that sounds very posh.

 

Michael Groves  05:35

Very posh. It’s a little obnoxious, but I do it anyway sometimes. So I returned to Portland, Oregon, for 90 days. And then in August, September and October I return and I divide that time among Paris, Marseilles and Lyon. And sometimes I choose September and I go someplace else. I will in Malta for a month than I walked the Chemin de Saint Jacques one September. And this year I decided to spend that month in Corsica. Specifically Haute Corse.

 

Annie Sargent  06:13

Yes. Haute Corse is… Yeah, it’s very scenic, isn’t it?

 

Michael Groves  06:18

There is a huge difference between going to Paris and to Corsica. When you go to Paris, your primary tourist attractions are those magnificent grand man-made constructions. But you won’t really find that in Corsica or in upper Corsica. You’ll see citadels but those are more like fortress villages. Those are huge and grand.

 

Michael Groves  06:47

Most of the time. You’re looking at nature. Yeah, this is a wild part of Corsica. It’s, it’s vast and untamed. It’s a pays sauvage, if you will, and much of my time I was looking at looking at the views of panoramic views or from up on high and looking down or I was at sea level, looking up at the club.

 

Annie Sargent  06:47

Right.

 

Annie Sargent  07:12

Yeah, yeah, it’s gorgeous. It’s, it’s, it’s a place where I think a lot more people should consider, you know, consider visiting, including myself, because I’ve really just been to the south of Corsica and even then briefly. So you know, but we’ve done another episode about it, and it sounded really, really nice.

 

Michael Groves  07:37

Yes, it was super.

 

Annie Sargent  07:38

So let’s let’s go into some details of the itinerary you took. You started out in Bastia, which is, I assume you flew there and you took a boat?

 

Michael Groves  07:49

I took a ferry from Marseilles.

 

Annie Sargent  07:51

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  07:52

Overnight ferry to to Bastia, and then I was in Bastia for three days, three nights. And then I took the train up to Corte. And I spent three nights there returned to Bastia to picked up a car rental and drove north into Cap Corse. To the tip of that finger to Macinaggio and then over to Rogliano, a purched up village where I stayed two nights. Then over to the west coast Centuri. And from Centuri, I then drove south to Saint-Florent where I stayed for four nights. And then to Île-Rousse and then to Calvi, Porto and Cargèse,  and Cargèse was the end.

 

Michael Groves  08:46

And underneath that line that we drew from Bastia down to Cargèse, there is actually a road that goes through Central Corsica, between Cargèse and Bastia. And I drove that back to Bastia, and then caught the ferry back to Marseilles where I am now.

 

Annie Sargent  09:08

So I’m imagining that this is very mountainous.

 

Michael Groves  09:12

The center are you talking about?

 

Annie Sargent  09:13

Yes.

 

Michael Groves  09:15

Well, it’s on the coast it is mountainous and very large hills. And when you go through the center, it is yes, very, very high. And the roads are twisty and curvy. I heard the phrase étroites et torturées to describe the road.

 

Annie Sargent  09:35

Yeah, yes. So not ideal for people who have issues with being carsick, I assume.

 

Michael Groves  09:42

Yes. And also, you might have some discussions about who’s not going to be sitting in the passenger seat, especially if you’re driving south because it’s on the passenger side, where you’re going to be looking down into the Mediterranean Sea and it’s pretty harrowing. On that side of the car sometimes.

Impressions on Bastia

Annie Sargent  10:04

Yeah, so it might give you a you know if you’re afraid of heights or something. Yeah, it’s it’s very rugged from the photos I’ve seen. It looks like it’s really, really rugged and scenic and just. So, tell me some of your favorites like so Bastia is a big city, right?

 

Michael Groves  10:21

Yes, well, yes, it’s the second largest city in Corsica. That’s the largest port. And I was there for the first three days. Probably the highlight for, for me was the Old Port, and then also because I liked the panoramic views going up to the Citadel, and the Citadel has as a small village or people living up there. And you can stand in various locations to look down at the port and to look out onto the Mediterranean to the north. And then you have to go to the other side to look to the to the south.

 

Annie Sargent  11:00

Right

 

Michael Groves  11:01

But there’s an old village there and you can… I spend three, three that three days. But you could easily spend a day and then and then move on.

 

Michael Groves  11:12

Right

Book Your Hotels in Advance!

Michael Groves  11:12

Because everything every town every city in the upper Corsica is pretty small.

 

Annie Sargent  11:18

Mm hmm. So I am assuming you’ll be able to you stayed at hotels most of the time?

 

Michael Groves  11:25

Yes. Although I did have a… See it was not quite an Airbnb. I booked everything. Booking book booking.com

 

Annie Sargent  11:35

Yeah

 

Michael Groves  11:35

I had a studio in Calvi. But yes, it was it was in in hotels. Yes, I might. I might add, if I can, since we’re on the subject of hotels. I, I was there in this last September. And I discovered very quickly that I was in the high season or yes sometimes called the medium high season and I was hoping to kind of wing it and kind of adjust my the amount of time I would spend in various places. And I had already booked Bastia and Corte. And I started looking for some places on the Cap Corse. And I discovered that it was really hard to find someplace to stay. And I they were booked, or they were too… Too expensive. Yeah, for my for my budget. Yeah. So I eventually booked the entire month before I left Bastia to go north. But it wasn’t hotel. Yeah,

 

Annie Sargent  12:29

yeah. Yeah, I think Corsica is going to be very popular. Up until probably this summer. We’re recording mid October, late October. I think the season starts dwindling down probably in October.

 

Michael Groves  12:56

Correct.

 

Annie Sargent  12:57

But the weather is so nice and Corsica Oh, you know that it’s it probably stays summer a long, long time.

 

Michael Groves  13:06

September was was fabulous. It was sunny and clear, virtually virtually every day that I was that I was there.

 

Annie Sargent  13:16

So better weather than Marseilles you would say?

 

Michael Groves  13:19

Right now?

 

Annie Sargent  13:20

well, like comperative, you know…

 

Michael Groves  13:24

No, no, I think it’s pretty much the same. Yes, very similar. Yeah, one thing I should note that before I took off for Corsica I really didn’t know what to expect. And when I got there I discovered that kind of continuing the theme of what you were saying about lots of people discovering Corsica. It is a one big resort island. It was fabulous. It was it. They had great accommodations all along the coast and, and  restaurants everywhere. Lots and lots of tourists. Not very many Americans but lots of visitors.

 

Annie Sargent  14:02

Yeah lots of French people go to Corsica

 

Michael Groves  14:06

there were a lot of Germans Spanish Italians

The Strong Regional Culture of Corsica

Annie Sargent  14:10

Yeah. Yeah I my biggest connection. This is going to be sounded very funny to you but my biggest connection to Corsica is a radio show I listen to every week. It’s a gardening show and they it just makes me dream all the plants they can put in Corsica like, it’s, it’s like a paradise, you know? And I just like to think about it. Sometimes I try one in Toulouse and some often it’s a fail.

 

Michael Groves  14:39

My sense was that the Corsicans they really, really like their country or theirs. What do you call Corsica? A patrie or state or a part of France?

 

Annie Sargent  14:48

It’s a department but it is a department with a very strong local, regional culture. Yes. Yes. And they have their own language, which kind of sounds like Italian a little bit. I speak Italian fairly well and Corsican is I, I understand what they’re saying, but I can’t respond in Corsican because I lack a lot of vocabulary.

 

Annie Sargent  15:18

They use their local language a lot. A lot more than in Toulouse for example, because in Toulouse we have occitan which hardly anybody speaks. It’s really rare to hear it on the streets. Whereas course again, at least they will greet each other in Corsican and say goodbye in Corsican. They might not have the whole conversation even on this radio show, very often, they just switch to Corsican in the you know, just a few sentences here and there. You know, it’s it’s really interesting. So it’s a very strong regional identity and… Sometimes French people who go say you know they don’t like us mainland people so much but i don’t think that’s it they just I mean they have their own thing you know?

 

Michael Groves  16:12

Yeah, I saw that and and I would go into the markets for example and you would see products clearly marked being produced in Corsica. There would be stores everywhere that would clearly identify that all these products were were French or excuse me were Corsican.

Are Prices in Corsica High?

Annie Sargent  16:37

Yeah yes and and it’s really expensive I thought as well as compared to the rest of France. What did you think?

 

Michael Groves  16:46

Being expensive?

 

Annie Sargent  16:47

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  16:49

To be honest with you, no. I don’t think so. No. The price range for the hotels and for the meals were were comparable than in the mainland. And the No I can’t…

 

Annie Sargent  17:05

Okay, okay

 

Michael Groves  17:06

I’m searching for some places where it might have been But no, not too bad. No

 

Annie Sargent  17:12

Okay. So what were you favorites of all these places and I’ll put the map I’ll if you send me the names of the hotels where you stayed I’ll put links there so people can have an idea of what it was like. What were you favorites of all this long you know month long visit because I’m assuming most listeners are not going to take a month.

 

Michael Groves  17:36

No, I think you can probably cover the the northern part of Corsica at least the route that I took within a week easily 10 days depending on whether or not you wanted to go up into the villages or not.

Corte and the Citadel

Michael Groves  17:51

I found that I was high hi up often and looking out and down. The first place was that was really stunning was in Corte. And I took the train up there specifically because I wanted to see what it was like on the inland because I knew I was going to spend most of my time in the on the coastal areas. But in Corte  there is a Citadel that is really high on a promontory.

 

Michael Groves  18:25

And you need to pay to get into it you go to the museum, you pay an entrance fee, and then you can go into the museum or you can turn left and go to this Citadel and and you get this really really fabulous panoramic view of now moving down into court day but also into the valley below and the mountains in the in the distance. If you don’t want to go into the museum, you can go to a promontory that is just below quarter and get something that’s very similar.

 

Michael Groves  19:01

So that was the first really big surprise as far as the views. When I was there also, I heard for the first time, so of course it can acapella polyphonic singing. There was a group called Spartera, who performed on the night before I left. And maybe you’ve seen pictures these men put a cupped hand over an ear so that they can better hear one another.

 

Annie Sargent  19:33

Yeah, cuz they seem pretty loud.

 

Michael Groves  19:35

Yes, they do. And they’re in they performing churches that main church and in court day, but later, I discovered that they also there were a number of these groups and they performed along the west coast in many of the churches. Really, really wonderful. Experience.

 

Annie Sargent  19:59

Yeah, the harmonies are nice. It’s kind of a if you like, if you enjoy choral music, it’s about the opposite end to exactly.

 

Annie Sargent  20:10

I mean it’s it’s like it’s it’s not subtle. It’s very loud very strong manly man singing. That’s what it is.

 

Michael Groves  20:20

Yes, yes, yes, I only know of one all female group most of them are three, four or five males.

 

Annie Sargent  20:28

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  20:29

Singing a cappella

 

Annie Sargent  20:30

Yeah. Yeah.

Nonza and La Sassa Restaurant

Michael Groves  20:32

Yes. Okay, that may be the second place I’ll tell you about is known set which I would really recommend it is Nonza.

 

Annie Sargent  20:39

Nonsa? How do you spell that?

 

Michael Groves  20:41

And oh, and z. A. Okay. I’m sorry. It’s a it may be a beau village, I’m not sure. But it is south of Santorini somewhere between about maybe two thirds of the way down the coast towards Saint-Florent. And there’s a village on the on the left and the right and as you’re going south on the right, it rises up a bit. And there is a tower up there. And you will notice right away on both the East Coast and the West Coast, these small towers that are observation posts to, I assume for looking out for pirates during the day and also looking out for any invading armies.

 

Michael Groves  21:25

But there was a tower up there and you can climb up through the village up to that tower and then you get another spectacular view north on the coastline and then down into the Gulf of Saint-Florent. Right below that tower is a restaurant. And I know your listeners want to know about the restaurants.

 

Michael Groves  21:49

So what I’ll tell you about about La Sassa. When I went to Corsica, I had a handful of destination restaurants. I really wanted to eat in these restaurants and La Sassa (SASSA)  was one of them. And it has no buildings. The kitchen is not enclosed in a building.

 

Annie Sargent  21:50

Of course!

 

Annie Sargent  21:59

Really?

 

Michael Groves  22:15

Yes, the entire restaurant is in the open on this rocky knoll just below the tower. And they put up these elegant tarps to cover the dining area to protect the diners. And the kitchen is under that underneath that as well. And all of the tables are situated so you have this fabulous, fabulous view of the Mediterranean also the coast line up to the to the north.

 

Annie Sargent  22:45

Do you think this restaurant is there year round or ephemeral?

 

Michael Groves  22:50

It’s ephemeral. It closes at the end of September. Reopen sometime in May. It has to go away because there’s nothing there to, you know there’s no buildings at all, so.

 

Annie Sargent  23:04

Right. Wow.

Col de Teghime

Michael Groves  23:06

So that was a very lovely experience. And another place where I have this fabulous view but I also got a meal go along with it. Let me give you one more example of someplace where I was high up and then looking down. Out of Saint-Florent, one can go up to a pass. Now Saint-Florent and Bastia are across from one another on the east coast in the west coast. And it’s about 15 miles between the two of them.

 

Michael Groves  23:40

You go seven miles from Saint-Florent, Florent up to this pass. And it’s called the col de Teghime, t g h i m e.

 

Annie Sargent  23:53

Okay.

 

Michael Groves  23:54

And it is I think one of the highest passes in all of course, it goes and you can place yourself in a certain spot and face north and look to your right and look down into Bastia and the Mediterranean. And then just turn your head to the left and look down into Saint-Florent and the Mediterranean on the west coast. It’s pretty cool.

 

Annie Sargent  24:24

Yeah. Sounds good.

 

Michael Groves  24:27

And the trip up there you go through Patrimonio, which is a small village, but also it’s a region that is a wine growing region. And it’s got an AOC designation, and there are many, many vineyards where you can stop in and taste the wine. So those are the maybe three examples of where I was way up high and I was looking down.

Calanques de Piana

Michael Groves  24:55

But let me give you a couple examples where I was at water level and looking up. And this these two places may have been my most favorite places to visit. One was the theCalanques de Piana.

 

Michael Groves  25:07

Piana is a village and the the the calanques are right below this this village.

 

Annie Sargent  25:10

Calanques de Piana, eh?

Réserve naturelle de Scandola

Michael Groves  25:16

And then the other is the Réserve naturelle de Scandola and to visit those places you need to take a boatal though one can go through the calanques on a road on the way to piano. And that road is is harrowing. It’s very it’s narrow turns. I dropped down to something like 10 miles an hour.

 

Annie Sargent  25:53

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  25:53

In places.

 

Annie Sargent  25:55

Yeah, yeah, I can imagine very narrow, very, you know impressive looking because you have the falaise, how do you say that? You have to drop to one side. And so you’re like AAAH!

How to Best Visit the Calanques

Michael Groves  26:12

A very precipitous drop. Yeah, these very large towering granite columns. And oh, I don’t want to call it mountains because I’m not that but they’re strident and they’re just really glorious. They take on a, maybe a red or rose tinge to them. That’s why some of them are called. There’s a place called Roche Rouge, and it’s named after the calanque. You could go you could take a boat through it or excuse me a car through that, but the best way is to take a boat. And there are two different kinds there is kind of a small skiff and they’re called semi rigide

 

Annie Sargent  26:57

Yeah.

 

Annie Sargent  27:00

It’s like, blown up,

 

Michael Groves  27:03

Like rubber raft. Yeah, yes, sort of. And they allowed 12 people to sit in them and you have to sit. And it’s open. And they’re fast. And it’s the cheapest way to to visit the calanques. The other is the vedette. And that is a typical boat with a cabin. And then there’s a bathroom and they serve drinks if you ask for them, and it’s more expensive. But out of Calvi, Porto and Cargèse, you can take a boat out and I recommend taking the boat from Porto because then the distances isn’t so great. But you get this up close view of these huge geological formations.

 

Annie Sargent  27:50

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  27:51

And now we’re impressed with the monuments in Paris. But I would argue that what you see in this in the Réserve de Scandola and the calanques is equal if not more breathtaking.

Hicking in Corsica

Annie Sargent  28:04

Right. I assume that if you like hiking, you could hike all day long and and even to get to these perched up villages, there’s probably a fair amount of up-hill walking involved.

 

Michael Groves  28:17

I’m not sure how much there I saw a lot of hikers and also hitchhikers. I’m not sure how much of the calanques and how especially how much of the reserve reserve, you can walk in they are protected areas. They’re identified by UNESCO. But there are lots and lots of hiking trails.

 

Annie Sargent  28:40

Right.

 

Michael Groves  28:41

And I know going up to Piana you’re going through the calanque in the car and going up to Piana there were places where there was some parking spots and people were getting out getting ready to…

 

Annie Sargent  28:54

Right, trailheads.

 

Michael Groves  28:55

Yes, yes, yes. Yeah,

 

Annie Sargent  28:57

Yeah. Yeah. would bet that this is a favorite activity of locals and visitors is to go on beautiful long steep hikes.

 

Michael Groves  29:10

Also taking hikes along the beaches, I haven’t mentioned the beaches and that’s one of the drawing points of Corsica, and Haute Corse as well. Very beautiful beaches.

 

Annie Sargent  29:20

So do they have sandy beaches most of the time or is it

 

Michael Groves  29:25

Yeah, the ones that I saw it’s it’s sandy. Yes, I’m trying to think of someplace that was actually rocky and I can’t think of right now.

 

Annie Sargent  29:36

Right. So. So it was mostly sandy.

 

Michael Groves  29:39

Yes.

 

Annie Sargent  29:40

So, so far your favorite favorite places were Nonza, Pigna. You haven’t talked about Pigna, have you?

The Village of Pigna

Michael Groves  29:47

No, I haven’t. Pigna is a village out of Île-Rousse. It is in the balanin area and some of those haute villages haute… A perched village.

 

Michael Groves  30:00

Yeah.

The village of Sant’Antonino

Michael Groves  30:01

And you can actually visit two of those village in one day Pigna and then you can continue on up to Sant’Antonino.

 

Annie Sargent  30:14

Okay

 

Michael Groves  30:14

And Pigna has this this large corral made of, of very thick stone. And I think during the Middle Ages it was used for confining animals but now it’s been converted into a performing arts place it’s open to the air, and that’s really fun to walk into and walk around. Then the village it’s like some other villages that I’ve seen. It has a lot of artisans, glass stores. One of the…

 

Annie Sargent  30:15

Pottery probably

 

Michael Groves  30:57

Pottery is there

 

Michael Groves  30:59

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  31:00

I discovered I was there early in the morning and I discovered these two small cafes one it was called Casa rella. And the other one was called Cantina Moresca I think those are all words. And I fell in love with those places because they were kind of, I don’t know they were buried a bit and there were vines and trees, hiding them and they were kind of ramshackle and there was in the casa rella there was a bamboo kind of a not a roof but a shade. And I went into that and it opened up into this small terrace that was just lovely. And you get drinks there and I went to the end of this bench, and I had this again fabulous view of the valley below in the the Mediterranean and then a village down on the, on the, on the coast.

 

Michael Groves  32:06

There is a restaurant there I should mention. Let’s see, I’m not sure if I remember what it was called. I forget what it was called. But there was a restaurant there that I really highly recommend and I’ll give you the name of it later.

 

Annie Sargent  32:23

If you can think of it I’ll put it in the show notes. It sounds like it’s a great place to go if you just want to fill your head with beautiful images of scenic, beautiful, peaceful places because even with all the tourists,d did it ever feel crowded or?

 

Michael Groves  32:42

I felt claustrophobic more in the in places like Calvi and larger towns, Saint-Florent. There are not very many tourist and yet, even in this high season in September, yeah, in the villages,

 

Annie Sargent  32:56

Right. As soon as you need to be climbing up. The you know, the village streets, there are fewer people.

 

Michael Groves  33:07

Exactly. And you can actually go from Pigna go up a little bit higher to Sant’Antonino and I know that is a beaux village and you can spot that from a distance. It sits up on a on a large knoll and and that is on granite. And you will walk around some of those ruelles those little streets and be walking over boulders over stone rather than them pavement.

 

Annie Sargent  33:40

Sorry, go ahead. Well

 

Michael Groves  33:44

I mentioned one restaurant there there is a fairly well known restaurant there called Iscalini. ISCALINI and I and they brag about their their 360 degree panoramic view of the countryside. So you can sit, sit in that restaurant have a meal and look around.

Corsican Gastronomy

Annie Sargent  34:05

Yeah, yeah. So speaking of restaurants tell us a little bit about the local cuisine, the specialties of the area. You’ve mentioned the wine already, but this is something that I enjoy is rosé from Corsica is usually really good.

 

Michael Groves  34:22

Yes, I drank. I drank the white wine a lot and the rosés I’m not sure about the red wines. But one of the things you’ll see often is the cheese. The brocciu cheese BROCCIU I pronounced it correctly. Brocciu and that cheese is served in a lot of things. It’s like a I don’t know if it’s a mozzarella. It’s really mild cheese. And it’s served in a desert fiadone FIADONE it’s like a cheesecake.

 

Michael Groves  35:02

nd often the pastry chefs will use some fruit or nuts or something to flavor the cheese because of the mild taste. It shows up in opposites all the time. One of the main dishes and sometimes an entree I would see the kind of kind of caneloni au brocciu, stuffed caneloni.

 

Annie Sargent  35:27

Mm hmm.

 

Michael Groves  35:29

And there is a I don’t know if it’s a desert but a pastry. It’s called beignets au chaud sucré and what they do is they make a batter with the cheese and then they form a little ball of dough and then deep fry it. Sometimes they are stuffed with with apples.

 

Annie Sargent  35:56

So beignets au quoi sucré?

 

Michael Groves  35:59

Beignets au chaud

 

Michael Groves  36:00

Yeah, chaud sucré ou salé.

 

Annie Sargent  36:01

Au chaud ?

 

Annie Sargent  36:04

So it’s CHAUD?

 

Annie Sargent  36:07

Yes.

 

Annie Sargent  36:08

Hmm. Beignets au chaud sucré.

 

Annie Sargent  36:12

I have never heard of this. I’m looking them up.

 

Michael Groves  36:16

And there’s also a pancake that it’s called migliaccioli. magli Accio. And it is basically a batter with chunks of this brocciu cheese and it’s cooked like a American pancake and they pay a euro and they hand it to you and then you eat it. It’s delicious.

 

Annie Sargent  36:41

Overall, did you enjoy the gastronomy of the area? Because they also do a lot of charcuterie, don’t they?

 

Michael Groves  36:46

Yes, I was gonna mention that there’s a coppa and lonzu are two of the major charcuterie. But the other one is not quite the same as those two I mentioned. It’s called a figatellu.

 

Annie Sargent  37:01

Yeah

 

Michael Groves  37:02

You should tell him yeah it’s more like a sausage it’s it’s cooked and it’s kind of grainy when you when you cut into it . And often unlike the lonzu and the coppa the figatellu would be cooked before it’s served to you and I be served like a sausage with an omelet. Apparently it’s it’s it can’t hang for very long has to be consumed rather quickly. So, that and let me tell you do you know about the Orezza? The sparkling water?

 

Annie Sargent  37:44

I do not.

 

Michael Groves  37:46

OREZZA, I discovered that and of course it gets the court gets bottled in Corsica and I don’t normally drink bottled water fizzy water.

 

Michael Groves  37:56

Yeah

 

Michael Groves  37:57

But for some reason I got hooked on Orezza. And the other thing is the other part of it of Corsiacan cuisine is the fish. I eat lots and lots and lots of fish.

 

Annie Sargent  38:12

Right.

 

Michael Groves  38:14

The daurade and lieu fish that you frequently will find in Marseilles for example or probably in Toulouse.

 

Annie Sargent  38:22

Right.

 

Michael Groves  38:22

Another specialty is the homard and the langouste, langoustine. The, the also I saw quite often the seiche.

 

Annie Sargent  38:37

Oh yeah.

 

Michael Groves  38:38

SEICHE. Yes. And your listeners may want to look that up. Think of him the octopus.

 

Annie Sargent  38:44

Yes, it’s a type of octopus. It’s a small one usually.

 

Michael Groves  38:48

Yes. I find it a little more tender than the typical octopus but I found that often in a salad or with with pasta

 

Annie Sargent  39:00

Very good! You make it sound very appealing!

 

Michael Groves  39:05

Thank you. Yeah one of my favorite dishes since we’re talking about food is to get a poisson, poisson du jour au four. And it would be a poisson entier du jour au four. It would be the entire fish of the day that would be baked I guess. And I went to a restaurant in in Centuri where they would bring the fish out and show to you and then take it away to the kitchen and bring it back out cooked. For your approval. They’ll show it to you that put it on the plate and then filet it for you and then serve you the vegetables.

 

Michael Groves  39:50

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  39:51

I love that. Yeah, sometimes walk into a restaurant and you will see the fish in a basket or a box right by the door next to the scales. And they will, you will pick out your fish and they will weigh it for you. And usually the price was eight euros for 100 grams. That’s one fish for one person is about was 400 grams plus 30 euros. It’s so pricey, I suppose but

 

Annie Sargent  40:24

It’s a little pricey for a French for a French meal but hey, it sounds really fresh and delicious.

Is Corsica Romantic?

Michael Groves  40:31

Yes, and I’m on vacation so.

 

Annie Sargent  40:35

So would you recommend that people who want to go… Did you did it feel to you more like a romantic type of place or more a family type of place or explorer kind of hiker kind of place?

 

Michael Groves  40:52

Oh, I would, I would say all of those. You can spend a lot of money hotel rooms with fabulous views. You can spend 400 / 500 euros a night and have a fabulous romantic getaway.

 

Annie Sargent  41:09

Yeah, yeah.

 

Michael Groves  41:11

And there are… I would I would wonder about families with with young kids in the far north. I’m not sure what kind of activities that they would participate in. Possibly going on going on the beaches.

 

Annie Sargent  41:29

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  41:30

And taking some hikes,

 

Annie Sargent  41:32

Right.

 

Michael Groves  41:33

The best thing, but either I think it’s appropriate for for everybody.

 

Annie Sargent  41:42

Good. Very good. Okay, well we need to wrap it up because we’ve been talking for 40 minutes already.

 

Michael Groves  41:48

Ah, it went by very quickly!

 

Annie Sargent  41:50

Yeah. Is there anything else that we missed?

 

Michael Groves  41:55

No, not that I can think of right off hand. We talked about a lot of stuff that I wanted to mention. So thank you.

How is Corsica different from other parts of France?

Annie Sargent  42:01

So thank you very much. It’s been lovely talking to you. How would you say, since you spend a lot of time in France as well, how would you say Corsica is different from the rest of France?

 

Michael Groves  42:13

Corsica is a wild at least the upper Corsica is the wild part of France if you will. Because it’s when you look inland when I went through the the center of Corsica it was undeveloped. The roads were really really narrow. Some of the small villages were there, looks like the rural communities they were not set up with, with, with for tourists. And it just seems like it’s an another time period.

 

Michael Groves  42:45

But when you go to the coast, it’s, it’s pretty much like what I’ve experienced on the Côte d’Azur except, for example, when I was driving from Bastia, to Macinaggio, I kept thinking this is probably what the Côte d’Azur looked like a few decades ago. It’s that kind of still rough around the edges places that that money hasn’t moved in yet.

 

Annie Sargent  43:15

Yeah, it’ll happen it’ll happen. Although the you know, because of the strong cultural identity I don’t know that it can really. I mean, Provence welcomed, you know, all of this attention and new people coming in and the English speaking millionaires buying all these places, and I’m not sure that Corsica is quite ready for that.

 

Michael Groves  43:46

Yeah, possibly. I did notice in Saint-Florent at Île-Rousse and Calvi that there are very large apartment buildings and they’re called residence and they are used to rent out apartments. So they’re thinking about the influx of tourists. And the distances are, you know, really quite short.

 

Annie Sargent  44:10

Yeah.

 

Michael Groves  44:11

And so a number of course it comes from the south. We’re going up to that area for vacations and certainly crossing that path from Bastia over to Saint-Florent. A lot of a lot of Corsicans take that trip as well.

 

Annie Sargent  44:28

Yeah, Corsica doesn’t… As far as I know, there is no major industry in Corsica. That means the industry is tourism.

 

Michael Groves  44:36

Yes. wine

 

Annie Sargent  44:41

And food and food produce.

 

Michael Groves  44:43

Yes. Yes. There’s a lot of that.

 

Annie Sargent  44:45

It’s that sort of industry. All right. Thank you so much, Michael. You’ve been so helpful. And enjoy the rest of your time in France. I mean, you

 

Michael Groves  44:57

Thank you.

 

Annie Sargent  44:58

Lucky you!

 

Michael Groves  45:00

Yes, I know! It’s a good life.

 

Annie Sargent  45:03

Au revoir.

 

Michael Groves  45:04

Au revoir

 

Annie Sargent  45:05

Thank you Madeline Santiago, Liz and Janella Williamson for pledging to support the show on Patreon this week. Patrons enjoy several rewards that you’ll find listed at https://patreon.com/joinus, PATREON forward slash join us no spaces or dashes. I share exclusive content with my patrons, including help with your French comprehension, stories about France, photos and membership into a secret Facebook group. And of course patrons can message me directly through Patreon and these messages always get top priority. So again, visit patreon.com forward slash join us to see the different reward tiers and thank you so much for giving back.

 

Annie Sargent  45:54

My thanks also to Lacklan Cooke and Elaine Black for sending in generous one-time donations using the green button on any page on Join Us in france.com that says tip your guide.

 

Annie Sargent  46:09

And if and if you’re not sure your itinerary for France is as good as it needs to be. Let me review it for you. It’ll cost you 50 bucks but I will go through your whole itinerary, talk to you on the phone about it send you recommendations via email. And if you’d like to set that up, email me at Join Us in france.com. And make sure to write itinerary review in the subject line.

 

Annie Sargent  46:36

And you can also support the show without spending a penny you wouldn’t have otherwise. Before you go shopping on Amazon go to the bottom of any page on Join Us in France. com and click on the Amazon ad and this is true also of the booking.com ad if you’re booking hotel rooms, which I assume you are because you’re going to France because you came to Amazon through my site, I get a small commission and it doesn’t cost you a penny more. Thank you so much.

 

Annie Sargent  47:07

There is a new review of my Île de la Cité Tour that I’d like to share with you. The person says I’ve three audio tours with Annie Sargent and o m g, I learned so much. And so many hidden gems love the way she speaks from her podcast and recommended her audio tours for everyone.

 

Annie Sargent  47:28

Thank you so much for writing that and I’ll just go on to my personal update because that’s mostly what I’ve been doing this week is writing the new Saint-Germain-des-Prés tour and it’s it’s so much fun! Today I have been looking into the story of Apollinaire, you know, the poet, the French poet. He had a lot to do with Saint-Germain-des-Prés and yeah, I some so much interesting stuff to uncover and read about. And I’ve enjoyed that very, very much.

 

Annie Sargent  48:03

I also had a little bit of a health scare this week. Chest pains, no fun. It wasn’t a heart attack, but my doctor thought it might be so she sent me to the hospital to get checked out. And I ended up spending a night in the hospital couple full days and in a night. And you know, I can’t complain because I’m fine. Some of the other people who were there were not near as lucky as I am. So it was it was just a scare. Yeah, I’m fine. And apparently it’s kind of common after an infection, you can get these sorts of odd pains. Anyway, who knew?  It’s what you get for being over 50 I guess.

 

Annie Sargent  48:42

And I’ll probably talk about this some more on an episode about the French healthcare system because I learned a lot and it’s actually done quite well. It’s annoying that they do so many tests because since healthcare in France is so inexpensive doctors have no hesitation to order more and more tests. But in a way they you know, they cross all the dots know, how do you say that? They dot all the i’s and cross all the T’s. I think that’s anyway, more on that at at some point, I’m sure.

 

Annie Sargent  48:42

And I’m still getting ready to go back to Paris. My friend Patricia in Paris was very, very kind and is loaning me her apartment again. And so I’ll spend a couple of weeks. And thank you, Patricia. Hello, Patricia. And it’s been a couple of weeks walking this tour, filling in, you know, when I do the research from my home in Toulouse, I write down all the things I know I want to tell you about for sure on that route. But then when I’m walking and I noticed that other things that are maybe smaller that I hadn’t thought of, and so I add them, so it takes me a couple of weeks to get it all tied up and tested. And recorded and tested again.

 

Annie Sargent  50:02

And sometimes I have to rerecord things. Although this time I’m hoping to use the World Radio Paris recording studio. So hopefully the sound quality will not be a problem at all. Anyway, all of this going on in my life.

 

Annie Sargent  50:17

The weather has been amazing in France this month of January. It’s not been wet at all, which is kind of strange. The Fall was wet, but the beginning of this winter has not been so I’m hoping that it’s going to keep going. Because if it rains every day while I’m in Paris, I will not be happy about that. But it’s winter, what are you going to do?

 

Annie Sargent  50:42

Also a quick quick update about the about the the strikes in Paris, things are calming down. Now that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to start up again, obviously, but for now for the people going soon. It should be fairly easy to navigate overall.

 

Annie Sargent  51:02

Oh, and I talked about my, my tour my audio tours, but I didn’t mention how you can find them. See, I’m just a marketing genius. So what you do is you go to https://joinusinfrance.com/audiotours and it explains what’s available and how they work. Or you can just download the free VoiceMap app on your iPhone or Android. And then you look for tours in Paris by Annie Sargent, and you just purchase that and there you go. But if you buy it from my website, you get a little bit of a discount. So that’s, you know, it’s always good.

 

Annie Sargent  51:43

All right, so let me just remind you that lots of people don’t think to look for a podcast to help them plan a trip to France. Please let them know that this is a good way to plan their trip. It’s amazing for inspiration, especially and of course, if they take good notes, it will help them do the whole thing. But it will inspire you. You know, people always post stuff on the Facebook group like, I’m going to Paris, what’s the best?

 

Annie Sargent  52:11

That’s a big question, and if you listen to the podcast, you will hear a lot of people explain what’s the best in their opinion. And that’s really a very, very good way to go. Anyway, if you know somebody who’s coming to visit France, tell them about the Join Us in France Travel Podcast, they will find us anywhere they find their podcast, also Spotify, Pandora, of course, Apple podcasts and more. And you can also send them to https://joinusinfrance.com, where they can listen directly from the website.

 

Annie Sargent  52:42

Thank you so much for listening. And well I’ll talk to you next week!

 

Annie Sargent  52:48

The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2019 by addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution non commercial no derivatives license

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Category: Corsica