The view from the plane takes my breath away as we come into land at Calvi airport. 25 degrees plus, the bluest of skies, sun drenched snow-capped mountains and crystal clear waters. As I step off the plane a cool breeze greets me and it is not long before the transfer coach drops me off at my home for the next three days, Hotel L’Ondine in Algajola. The staff couldn’t be more welcoming and most speak very good English. After a quick tour of the restaurant and pool I am shown to my room. It is small but very pretty and the window looks out over the sea. Perfect!
I decide to explore a little and it doesn’t take me long to have wondered around most of Algajola passing it’s citadel, a good choice of restaurants, a few hotels and a couple of shops. The most striking feature of the village is its sweeping bay of golden sand. I order a cool beer, which I sip in a shady square. What a wonderful base from which to explore La Balagne. I’m here for one week to photograph the area, staying a few days in Algajola and a few days in Calvi.
My hotel booking is for half board and after a delicious dinner I head off to the local church. There is a free concert. . . a duo with guitar and mandolin. What a treat! Beautiful music with haunting vocals that give me goose-bumps.
Strolling back to the hotel via the citadel, I pass the lovely restaurant U Castellu. In the back of the restaurant there is a small alcove with a single table with a view over the sea and a small back street. A perfect spot for a romantic dinner!
I fall asleep to the sound of the waves lapping the rocks outside my window.
The next day the early morning sun casts an ethereal orange glow over the stone buildings as I photograph the citadel and Algajola from outside the hotel. A short walk past a small beach, through the arcade and past a few hotels and restaurants and I am on the beautiful bay of golden sand called Aregno Plage.
Back to my hotel for breakfast and then I’m off to explore a bit of the local area.
Between Algajola and L’Ile Rousse I discover a number of lovely beaches, Marine De Davia, Guinchito and Bodri. The sweet smell of immortal and wild mint is quite striking as I walk from the parking area down to one of the beaches. These are two of the herbs found growing in the vegetation that covers much of Corsica, known as the marquis. More than 2,500 species of wildflowers grow on the island of Corsica and agricultural practices are changing in Corsica as traditional crops are being replaced by herbs grown for homeopathy.
We drive inland up into the lower foothills of Corsica’s mountains passing stunning views of the beaches and glorious turquoise waters below us. We pull over, wherever we can, to take a few photographs but it is not easy to do it justice.
A little further inland lies the 15th Century artist Canavesio, frescoed church just outside Pigna on the old Salt Road. It is surrounded by scaffolding and we can not go inside. Although I am pleased to see that it is being cared for I am disappointed that I can’t take any photos.
We explore the charming village of Pigna’s cobbled alleyways, discovering many interesting artisans workshops.
After a meal at one of my favourite restaurants we head off to Saint Antonio, another delightful village perched on the very top of a hill – stunning views, twisting alleys and charming, traditional Corsican restaurants.
Passing Aregno we drive on to the village of Corbara, nestled into the hillside, with a white church rising above the rooftops of the surrounding houses. There are more wonderful views down to the coast from here and before we leave I fill my water bottle from the village fountain where clear, crisp spring water flows out from a lions mouth. (Fountaines des Salicastri, built in 1896 and labelled ‘eau potable’or drinking water).
I’ve had a really wonderful day exploring by car the beaches and villages around Algajola. If you do not have a car there are still a number of lovely beaches and seaside towns that can be visited by train. L’Ile Rousse and Calvi both make very interesting day trips from Algajola whether by car or train.
For information on holidays in Corsica visit Corsican Places
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