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Tracey Maund and Colin Champion visited Corsica for 2 weeks in June 1998. We’d booked a week at each of two gîtes, and spent our final night at a hotel at Calvi.

The first gîte was between St. Florent and Oletta, and gave us access to Cap Corse and the Conca d’Oro, both of which are pleasant, as are the two towns mentioned.

The second gîte was in the village of Casanova somewhat to the south of Corte, giving access to the Castagniccia and the gorges of the central mountains. This gîte no longer seems to appear in the brochures. But it is a wonderful region for cycling. The Castagniccia is made up of beautiful forested hills with ancient villages on each spur, topped by elegant campaniles. It’s hard riding on idyllic lanes; paradise for the fit cyclist.

The attached map shows the roads we travelled and how we rated them.

We would coast down to Corte and take long rides in the hills, stopping for delicious lunches. We’d return to Corte and fill our panniers with wine, mineral water, milk ... all the necessities of life. But it was 250 vertical metres back to Casanova, a ride which we did every day for a week. We felt that final climb.

Our advice to anyone going there now would be to stay in hotels, which seems to be the only easy way to visit the centre of the island.

Calvi too is nice. As we wandered through the citadel in the evening we heard a gorgeous sound coming from one of the churches. Some professional singers in jeans and casual shirts were making a recording of Corsican polyphony.

One day we’ll go back.

A few details: we took the Rough Guide and used the IGN 1:100000 map.

There are obvious routes on Cap Corse which are pleasant enough. The descent into the Défilé de Lancone on the D62 is more spectacular; a return is possible along the D82, although the D7 further south is still better (but Colin found nowhere to eat there). The coast road is horrible.

On our transfer day we took the D5 south from Murato, then the D105 west, meeting the main road for lunch. This was an excellent ride.

All the squiggly yellow and white roads in the Castagniccia are delightful, and there are a few places to eat, but you’ll have to plan your rides round them if you don’t want to starve.

We made an interesting triathalon day riding up the Restonica to the end of the road; walking up to Lac du Capitellu, where there was snow; and swimming in it, very briefly and with much noise.

Our return to Calvi followed the old road, N197/D71, and gave an enjoyable ride.

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