Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Corsica and the Artisans' Route

Sometimes, sun and beaches just aren’t enough. Getting a nice tan in Ibiza or Majorca can be a top priority for some, especially when you live in a cold and rainy country and wear a mac 24/7, but these long hours spent on the beach can leave you wanting for something a little more special.

Our job at Europe Active has always been to plan and customize trips with bouncing ideas that aren’t usually found elsewhere.
To do it well, we thought we’d better send keen travelers to exotic destinations but that weren’t too far away from home either. We soon realized Corsica and the Mediterranean were some of the top adventure spots we could get. Why? Because Corsica has a je ne sais quoi about it, a particular charm and beauty that is not quite French or Italian. It is a miniature continent, a world of its own from its hidden creeks, glittering bays and charming coastal cities to its sawtooth peaks, lush forests and enigmatic hilltop villages. It is the perfect place to stimulate your mind and body. And of course, for us, it’s always a great challenge to capture the essence of a place and turn it into an unforgettable experience.

This is where our specialists come in. They delve deep into the local culture, talk, breathe, eat and sleep à la corse. They travel to remote villages that tourists never even spot on a map; they meet shepherds, knife makers, farmers, beekeepers, wine growers and explore trails, paths, forests, mountains, summits and even ghost villages! In short, they get their feet dirty so that you don’t have to!

After all, sharing the best of these adventures is what it’s all about and a great example of this is ‘the Artisans Route of Corsica’. Designed by our great explorer Christopher Columbus – no, really his name is Christopher Columbus in Corsican –, this guided trip is like a book you can’t put down. It thrives on ever-changing landscapes and a colourful cast of characters as well as a strong narrative arc. Very few other trips can deliver on this promise better.

Starting from Bastia in Northern Corsica, the trip takes you to the Niolu and the Balagne region. On the first day, you get to explore Patrimoniu, a village where wine is more than just a drink. It’s a lifestyle, an art and a plunge into history. For Corsican wine-growers, it’s also the perfect excuse to get chatting. The next couple of days, you get to visit tiny stone villages tucked away in the mountains. A whole journey into a secret part of Corsica begins. The choice is yours to visit a luthier and knife-maker’s factory or to meet passionate glass-blowers and olive oil farmers. The whole point is to get a flavour of the island’s unique culture.
Going on perfumed walks in the maquis (Corsican scrub) or around the Park of Saleccia also helps to capture the island’s natural beauty and essence. Just like Corsican craftsmen, nature is an artist with a colourful palette. Immortelle, lavender, myrtle, rosemary and sea buckthorn create this magical world of wild aromas, where each plant has its own little secrets.

‘Corsica has so many other stories to tell you on this trail’ says Christophe. Visiting the ruins of Occi village or the citadel of Calvi feels like stepping into the lives of bygone villagers and forgotten heroes. Walking down cobbled streets or through medieval ruins is a different way of exploring the past, not through craftsmanship but through architecture. It is taking a stroll down memory lane.

At the end of the day, all we have is memories and all we aim for is to leave you with the best and most beautiful ones. So you can revisit them again and again and let your mind travel even further.

Alexandra Leclercq

Enjoy a 7-day holiday on the Artisans Route of Corsica

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