Propriano, Corsica, France
From Propriano, you can explore the island’s wealth of lovely beaches, charming villages and rugged scenery.
Corsicans lived under the rule of the Republic of Genoa for almost five hundred years up until a brief period of independence from 1755. France then conquered the island in 1769, and it remains one of France’s 18 regions, even if many strands of its culture are more Italian than French. You’ll notice this in its cuisine and language, which is closely related to Italian, especially in the north.
For a glimpse into traditional Corsican life, head to one of Corsica’s most enchanting towns, Sartène. Its tall, grey granite houses seem to extend out of the high ridge it has occupied since medieval times. Orange rooftops and a backdrop of tooth-like peaks create a fairy-tale impression, and its narrow cobbled lanes invite discovery. This part of the island is also likely to intrigue wine connoisseurs, with 40 acres of vineyards spread across the countryside, and the opportunity to sample the local reds.
Propriano itself dates mainly from the early 19th century, and has an attractive center of sand-colored buildings with terracotta roofs, all overlooked by the Church of Notre Dame de la Misericorde. The scenic harbor is a mixture of modest fishing boats and exclusive yachts, while there are some excellent beaches nearby.
You could always visit the island’s capital, Ajaccio, where Napoleon was born in 1769. It’s even possible to step inside his family home, the Maison Bonaparte, now a museum. The photogenic clifftop towns of Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio are both also within reach along the coast.
Should you decide to devote your day to Corsica’s scenery, there are plenty of highlights. The generous gifts nature has bestowed upon the island include the Vizzavona Forest, the Prunelli Gorges or the Calanches, a surreal landscape of dramatic red granite rock formations plunging towards sea that form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.