Corsica – Why is it still so beautiful?
Based in the UK, I have lived and worked all over France for 20 years, at a high level, for tour operators great and small. I find there is only one place that really fully captures my heart and that is Corsica, the “ile de beaute”. Why you may ask should one little heard-of island be so different from the rest of France which has so much to offer?
Is it the fabulous clear seas, the soft white sand, the dramatic mountain peaks, the wonderful seafood, the delicious mountain cheeses, the wild aromatic maquis, the friendly locals, the enchanting Corsican music? To an extent yes, but you can find those sort of things on the mainland. The main thing is that Corsica has all those elements and many more but above all it’s so unspoilt. Why?
Well it’s a complicated series of related issues which have literally trapped the island in a time warp and excluded developers from inflicting concrete “carbuncles” with their usual abandon. A political and natural series of events, unlike anywhere else, have left the island of Corsica as unique as the many indigenous species of plant and wildlife which flourish in its multi-climate zones.
Pre-war much of the Corsican coastland was uninhabitable due to malarial mosquitos. In the 50’s the USA initiated a DDT spraying program which eradicated the problem. Tourism began to take off but it was unusually held back by the will of the local people who refused to have their way of life disrupted by foreign powers and preferred not join the get rich quick bandwagon.
You can draw a parallel with Spain, where I also worked as the Franco years drew to a close. In Spain it was the end of General Franco which triggered the demise of vast tracts of coastline and this goes on unchecked to this day. High rise hotels, bars, marinas all been driven by money from tourists and outside investors and given political blessing to multiply.
Corsica has resisted the developers and simply refused to be cowed by the pressure of big business and politicians from ruling France and nearby Italy in particular. I have seen the remains of hotels which would have blighted beautiful beaches, where just the gate posts are left to remind the developers of the extent to which the islanders will go to resist change. Yes they will, as a last resort, literally blow up development that they see as unsuitable.
This is about as politically un-correct as anything I have ever come across. But what is the result? Miles and miles of unspoilt coastline, unblemished hills and mountains and now national parks covering a third of the island and protecting the island officially. I know it’s not for everyone, many prefer partying in the Costas. But if you want a taste of paradise within a couple of hours flying distance, the Corsicans are prepared to share it with you. On their terms. Not too many people at a time. It’s not cheap. But I’ve never yet spoken to anyone who hasn’t wanted to to return.
I’m now a partner/director of The Villa Company and pleased to offer holidays in beautiful villas with private pool. All owned by Corsican residents.