OPTION A: A SCENIC 4 DAY TOUR THROUGH FRANCE FROM ST.MALO TO TOULON TO CATCH THE OVERNIGHT FERRY TO BASTIA, CORSICA
OPTION B: MAKE YOUR OWN WAY TO TOULON AND JOIN THE MAIN TOUR
OPTION A, 14 DAY TOUR STARTING FROM PORTSMOUTH-CAEN
NOT INCLUDED ARE THE FOLLOWING :
OPTION B, 10 DAY TOUR
NOT INCLUDED ARE THE FOLLOWING :
Opion A A 14 day tour with 9 days on Corsica, France's spectacular "island of beauty," in the Mediterranean and a 4 day scenic drive through France from Caen to Toulon with overnight stops in: the Loire valley, the Dordogne, and the Tarn Gorge,( visiting the Millau bridge) .On the evening of the 4th day we catch the overnight ferry from Toulon to Bastia, Corsica
Option B. A Participants make their own way down to Toulon where they join the main tour and catch the evening ferry to Corsica and spend 9 days on Corsica
OPTION A: 14 DAY TOUR WITH A 4 DAY ROUTE FROM CAEN TO TOULON
A 4 day tour to Toulon near Marseilles to catch the overnight ferry to Corsica.Our route goes through some of France's most stunning areas including the Loire Valley, the Dordogne, and the Gorges des Tarn. Following an afternoon ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Caen, our scenic route takes us south east to our first hotel, a 4* sumptuous chateau hotel in the Loire Valley where we spend a night in this beautiful region which is a UNESCO world heritage site.We then leave the Loire Valley and drive south to the Dordogne our next overnight stop, this time staying in a 17th century converted moulin.We then continue south east to Millau where we drive over the stunningly beautiful Millau bridge, the world's highest and most beautiful suspension bridge spanning the Millau gorge.We then drive into the scenic Gorges des Tarn where our hotel is on the banks of the river Tarn.The next day we drive east into. On our 5th day we drive south-east to Toulon in the south of France to catch the overnight ferry to Bastia,Corsica
OPTION B: 10 DAY TOUR WITH PARTICIPANTS MAKING THEIR OWN WAY TO TOULON FERRY PORT WHERE THEY JOIN THE MAIN TOUR
In the evening we take the overnight ferry to Bastia on Corsica's north east coast arriving early morning.
9 DAY TOUR OF CORSICA
Our tour of Corsica takes us clockwise around the island on stunning coastal roads with picturesque sea scapes and over mountain passes and through stunning gorges through villages where time appears to have stood still. Starting in the north east we spend the first night in a charming fishing village near Bastia and on our first full day on Corsica we explore Cap Corse and northern Corsica with lunch in the charming Centuri a small fishing port before arriving in the fashionable yacht resort of San Florent for afternoon coffee. We then head back to Erbalunga across the mountains.On our 2nd day on Corsica we head into the mountains and drive through some stunning gorges before arriving at our hotel in the Restonica gorge near Corte. On our 3rd day on Corsica we stay in the mountains for most of the day driving through more stunning gorges and over mountain passes including the dramatic Col de Bavella before emerging on the south east coast where our hotel for the next 2 nights in Porto Vecchio has its own beach. The next day we relax on the coast around Porto Vecchio. On the 5th day on Corsica we drive south and visit Bonifacio the southern most point on Corsica and enjoy a boat ride to view the dramatic cliffs and rock formations followed by lunch.We then drive up the south west coastline through Propriano to our hotel in the charming small fishing port of Porto Pollo.The following day, our 6th day on Corsica, we visit Filitosa the pre-historic monument site before continuing up the western shore through Ajaccio to Piana, one of only two villages on Corsica listed as one of France's most beautiful villages. After 6 days travelling around Corsica we stay here for two nights.The following day we enjoy a relaxed local excursion visiting a local bay for coffee then drive along the beautiful Calanques de Piana, arguably one of Europe's most stunning coastal roads to Porto only 10 miles north. The Calanques de Piana is a UNESCO world heritage site in recognition of its beauty.The following day we spend the morning in the mountains near Porto then drive north over the summit of the Col de la Croix to Calvi our last hotel stop on Corsica.On our 9th and final day on Corsica we drive up to L'Ile Rousse for morning coffee before heading back into the mountains on a route through villages where artists and artisans manufacture traditional goods.Our lunch stop is San Antonino the other "beaux village" on Corsica.In the afternoon we continue up the coast to San Florent for afternoon coffee which is where we arrived on our first full day in Corsica ! After coffee we drive back over the Col de Teghime back to Bastia to catch the overnight ferry to Nice. The next morning our ferry arrives in Nice, France and our tour ends.
Our ferry departs Portsmouth at 14.45 and arrives Ouistreham/Caen at 21.30.
Our hotel is in Ouistreham only a couple of minutes from the ferry terminal and overlooks the sea.
After breakfast we drive to Pegasus Bridge and the cafe which was the first place to be liberated in 1944 towards the end of the 2nd world war, see photos below:
We then head south to for 60 miles to Sees our morning coffee stop where we can visit the twin spired cathedral.
We then continue south to Arnage, near Le Mans where we enjoy lunch at the Harlequin restaurant.
After lunch we visit to the famous Auto Museum next to the main entrance of the Le Mans 24 hours circuit, Musée des 24 Heures. (see photos below)
We then leave Le Mans and head south on scenic backroads and a great driving road to our sumptuous 4* chateau hotel, Chateau de Rochecotte (click here to visit their website), in St. Patrice in the Loire valley, (see photos below).
Click on the link below to youtube to see a video of a Morgan arriving at Chateau Rochecotte:
After leaving our chateau hotel we continue south, through Descartres, to La Roche Posay our coffee stop.We then continue south to Angles-sur-l'Anglin, one of France's "plus beaux villages" and our lunch stop at an auberge nestling under the ruins of an ancient chateau, see photos below.
After lunch we drive south to Chauvigny through the picturesque Vienne valley on minor roads into the Charente department through Confolens to Chabanais . We then continue south into the Dordogne to the charming town of Brantôme, described as "the Venice of the Perigord" due to the river Dronne completely encircling the town effectively making Brantome an island! Brantome also boasts the oldest bell tower in France attached to the ancient abbey. Our hotel, a converted mill, is on the outskirts of Brantome, see photos below:
Tonight we enjoy dinner at the hotel.
We drive cross country for 25 miles then take the autoroute east to Brives where we drive a few miles south and leave the autoroute and arrive in Martel our morning coffee stop.We then continue east and then head east to Rodez and then on to the Millau gorge where we have the opportunity to view, arguably, the world's most beautiful modern suspension bridge, the Millau Viaduct, (see photo below). We drive over the bridge and then under it when you really appreciate its beauty and scale.
The Millau Viaduct bridge is a cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in the Aveyron. Designed by architect Sir Norman Foster, in collaboration with
French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux, it is the highest vehicular bridge in the world, with one pier's summit at 343 metres (1,125 ft) - slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower and only
38 m (125 ft) shorter than the Empire State Building.The Millau Viaduct bridge was conceived as a means to alleviate traffic congestion, as every year kilometers-long traffic jams would form as tourists made their way south during summer, descending the valley into the town of Millau which became a notorious bottleneck on the A75 autoroute.
Construction in this area is difficult as the region is known for high winds and the valley is very deep, resulting in an extended period of research and planning, investigating various potential routes, and taking 10 years before construction began. A competition was established to elicit the best solution and in July 1996 the design of a cable-stayed bridge by Foster & Partners was awarded. After a few modifications the final design was approved in 1998 and an international call for tenders made in 1999. The primary contract was won by Compagnie Eiffage du Viaduc de Millau and and construction began in October 2001, finishing in December 2004.
From Millau we drive into the stunning Gorges des Tarn, (see photo below)
Our hotel is located on the banks of the river Tarn in the gorge itself
We continue along the stunning Tarn Gorge to Florac and continue on scenic roads drive through Uzes to Pont du Gard, our coffee stop, where we visit the stunning Roman bridge which, in contrast to the Millau bridge, is almost 2,000 years old,( see photo below). Our route then takes us east into the Luberon area of Provence and then south-east to Toulon where we catch the overnight ferry to Bastia, Corsica.
The ferry arrives in Bastia at 7.00am
photo courtesy of https://www.touristmaker.com/france/corsica/
Upon arrival in Bastia we make our way to our hotel to drop off our luggage and enjoy breakfast.
Our hotel is located a few miles north of Bastia in a sleepy charming fishing village, see photos below:
After breakfast we drive up the north east coast line to Macinnagio near the northern tip of Cap Corse our coffee stop, see photos below:
We then continue across to the north western coastline of Cap Corse where we spend lunch in Centuri, a charming fishing village, see photos below:
After lunch we drive down the north eastern coast of Cap Corse visiting, along the route, idyllic villages, small harbours and villages that time has forgotten.
In the afternoon we stop off in St Florent a fashionable resort and popular with international yachtsmen for a coffee and a stroll around the picturesque harbour, (see photos below).
We then return across the island to our hotel in Erbalunga just north of Bastia on the north east Cap Corse coast.
Dinner tonight is in a local restaurant.
Today we leave the coastline for the mountains where the scenery in the north east side of the island is more attractive than the coast line.We leave our hotel and head south on the N193 to Casamozza after which we keep right on the N193 up into the mountains stopping at Ponte Nuovo to admire the ruined bridge where the French army in 1769 defeated the Corsican patriots lead by Pascal Paoli, see photos below:
We then continue to Ponte Leccia where we turn off the N193 onto the N197 before turning left into the Vallee de l 'Asco towards the Gorges de l'Asco one of the most beautiful, yet isolated areas in Corsica.
A fvew miles in we turn right to Moltifao to visit the ruined abbey, see photos below:
Driving through the stunning gorges we arrive in Asco which, in the 16th century, was an important centre of Corsican resistance against the invading Genoese troops.We continue driving into the forest of Carrozzca to Haut Asco a small ski resort where we enjoy a coffeee, see photos below:
After coffee we return back to Asco our lunch stop where our restaurant terrace has stunning views over the valley, see photos below:
returning back through the gorges to Ponte Leccia.Here we head south on the N193 once again turning right onto the picturesque D84 at Francardo driving through Calacuccia and up to the summit of the Col de Vergio where we turn back and drive around the lake at Calacuccia this time on the D218 back to Castiria.
Here we head south on the D18 to Corte the cradle of Corsican independence and patriotism where in 1735 the constitution for an independent Corsican state was drafted before Corte became Corsica's capital in 1755 after being liberated by Pascal Paoli.We spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Corte's old town on foot including a visit to the Citadel and the Musee de Corse which houses an impressive anthropological collection detailing the history and culture of Corsica.After our visit to Corte we drive a mile south and then turn right onto the D623 which takes us into the Gorges de la Restonica where our hotel is located on the banks of the fast flowing river which descends from Mont Rotando at 2,672 metre above sea level, see photos below:
We start the morning with a drive up the picturesque Gorges de la Restonica, see photos below:
and then return back to the N193 and head south to Venaco and Vizzavora where the adventurous can walk to the impressive waterfall the Cascade des Anglais a beauty spot much admired by early English visitors to this area.
We then return to Vivario where we turn right onto the D69 and drive over the Col de Sorba to Ghisoni.Here we continue east through a narrow gorge called the Defile de l'Inzecca to Pinzalone where we turn south onto the D44 to Poggio and Prunelli di Fiumarbo the main village in this area dominated by a fortified church.We then continue east to the N198 where we turn right and head south to Solenzara a lively port and seaside reort and our lunch stop, see photos below:
After lunch we head inland again to the Col de Larone and Col de Bavella.Here the rugged pinnacles of the Aiguilles de Bavella create one of the most exciting landscapes in Corsica and our route passes
through rocks that glow red at sunset, see photos below:
Our route through the mountains eventually takes us back to the coast at Porto Vecchio where our hotel for the next two nights is located on the coast with its own small beach, (see photos below).
From Porto Vecchio we drive south on the N198 to Bonafacio which is perched on a promontory overlooking an inlet, see photos below:
To fully appreciate the beauty of Bonifacio it is advisable to take a boat trip from the marina visiting the sea caves and other points of interest as well as admiring the stunning views of Bonifacio from the sea, see photos
After Bonifacio we return to our hotel in Porto Vechio. Dinner tonight is in the hotel's restaurant
Day 10 Saturday April 20th Porto Vecchio to Porto Pollo near Propriano ( 90 miles)
We drive south to Bonifacio and then we take the scenic N196 coast road stopping off at the nearby Ermitage de la Trinite to admire the church and stunning sea views, (see photos below).
Our lunch stop is a few miles up the coast,see photos below:
We then continue on the N196 to Sartene a fortified medieval town with cobbled streets where we stop for a stroll before continuing to Propriano.This attractive harbour and seaside resort has beautiful beaches and caves dotted around the Golfe de Valinco.and Petreto Biccisano. We continue a few miles further west to Olmeto, near Porto Pollo, where our hotel is located overlooking the bay, see photos below:
Dinner is in a local restaurant
Breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking the bay.
We start the morning's drive with a visit to the most famous prehistoric site on Corsica, Filtosa.It was here that one of the most important alignments of anthropological menhirs were found dating back to the second millenium BC to 700BC,( see photos below).
After our visit to this amazing site we drive along the D155 which at La Castagna starts to hug the coastline as we drive to Porticcio stopping for lunch at a coastal restaurant, see photos below:
After lunch we continue to Ajaccio
After Ajaccio we drive over the Col de Bastiano through Sagone to Cargess a village with strong greek connections due to Greeks fleeing here in the 17th century.Our scenic route is along the stunning coastal road to our afternoon coffee stop, see photos below:
From here we head inland still to Piana where our hotel for the next 2 nights occupies a panoramic position overlooking the Golfe de Porto where there are wonderful sunsets, see photos below:
Dinner tonight is in the hotel's restaurant which overlooks the stunning coastline.
We drive back to the charming village of Piana and drive along a stunning peninsula coast road for 5 miles to Arone beach stopping, along the route, to appreciate the views, see below:
Our coffe stop overlooks Arone beach, see photos below:
After coffee in Arone we then return back towards Piana but take a drive down a steep road to one of the most enchanting, yet secret, coves on Corsica, see photos below:
Returning back up to the top road and Piana we then drive to Porto along, arguably, most scenic coast road on Corsica, the Calanques de Piana a series of granite rock formations which change colour from bright red to pink to gold depending on the time of day, (see photos below).This is a UNESCO world heritage site in recognition of its beauty.
We then arrive in Porto our lunch stop down by the port, see photos below:
After lunch there is an option to take a mountain route back to Piana via the Gorges de Spelunca to Evisa and then across the Col de Sevi, 1,101 metres via Voco to Sagone
We then return to our hotel along the stunning Calanques de Piana coastline.
Dinner tonight is in the hotel's restaurant which overlooks the stunning coastline.
We drive once again to Porto, along the Calanques de Piana. Leaving Porto we head back into the mountains through the Gorges de Spelunca to Evisa and up to the Col de Vergio this time up the west side.
We then return back to Porto and continue north on the D81 to Osani over the Col de la Croix and drive the beautiful coast road towards Calvi, see photos below.
Before Calvi we take a small deviation to the pretty port of Galeria, see photos below:
Finally we arrive in Calvi our final overnight stop on Corsica, see photos below:
Our hotel is located 100 yards from the sea and dinner tonight, our final on Corsica, is in a local restaurant.
We drive up to Lumio approximately six miles where the route starts to get very pretty to L'ile Rousse our morning coffee stop.Here we can enjoy the Riviera style promenade,shops and port. Keeping on the N197 we then drive 2 miles out of town and visit the Parc de Selecia gardens, unique in Corsica.We then continue another 3 miles to Lozari where we turn right away from the coast towards Ponte Leccia.after a few miles however we turn right off this road onto the D71 the "Strada di l'Arligioni or Artisans' Road a route encompassing some of the most characteristic craftsman's workshops many of which are located in perched villages with fascinating architecture and panoramic views, see photos below:
We visit en route a dozen villages stopping to admire the craft work before arriving in Sant Antonio one of France's most beautiful villages and the main village before joining the N197 coast road just south of L'Ile Rousse.
We then retrace our route north before turning left onto the D89 towards St Florent taking a deviation to view the Ostriconi beach, see photos below:
We then drive through the Desert des Agriates 60 square miles of green desert which although once highly cultivated is now virtually uninhabited.Eventually we arrive in St Florent, see photos below,where we stopped for afternoon coffee on our second day on Corsica thus completing our clockwise tour of the island
From St Florent we drive a few miles further north to Parimonio where we turn right and climb up the Col de Teghine, from where we descend into Bastia to catch the overnight 20.00 overnight ferry to Nice, see photo below:
Participants are free to make their own way home.
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Directors : Brian Thorley BSc MA FCA, David Thorley BSc MA