directCorsica - Corsica holiday specialists

Everything you need to know for your holidays in Corsica...

FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions about Corsica...

It can sometimes be difficult to find even the most basic information about Corsica, like how to get there, so we've put together a list of the questions people ask us most frequently about Corsica that we hope will help you get the most from your holiday.

If you can see the answer to your question below, simply click on it and the link will take you straight there. However, if you just want to get a feel for the place, why not scroll down and read them all...

1) Where is Corsica?
2) How big is Corsica?
3) What's the weather like in Corsica?
4) What language do they speak in Corsica?
5) How do we get there?
6) Should I book direct or with a Tour Operator
7) What if I can't travel on a Sunday?
8) Which is the best area?
9) Where are the best beaches?
10) Is it safe to swim in the sea?
11) Is it safe?
12)
What about women travellers?
13)
Is it child friendly?
14)
What's the cost of living like?
15)
Are the shops open on a Sunday?
16) Can you drink the water?
17) Telephones and calling home
18)
Can I change money / use credit cards?
19)
Do they have cash machines?
20)
What's the driving like in Corsica?
21)
What's the speed limit?
22)
Can I buy English Newspapers?
23) Things that bite and sting
24) What if we're ill?
25) What Guide books do you recommend?
26) Can I buy duty free at Corsican airports?
27) What can I expect to find in the kitchen?
28) What time can I arrive at the property?
29) Will there be a starter pack?

1) Where is Corsica?
It is a surprising statistic, but only 4% of the UK population know that Corsica, despite its French heritage, actually lies off the coast of Italy, approximately 112 miles south of France. Just 12km north of Sardinia, the island has inherited a superb mix of Italian and French influences.

2) How big is Corsica?
The island itself is about 115 miles long by 55 miles wide, but it is dissected by a mountain range known as the Corsican Penine way, so travelling around can take longer than you might expect - allow about an hour for 50km of driving. The island covers an area of about 5,500 square miles, and is the third largest island in the Mediterranean with about 600 miles of coastline.

3) What's the weather like in Corsica?
By the coast, the climate is typically Mediterranean with hot dry summers and mild winters. As you venture further up and into the mountains, the weather changes and you can expect hot days during the summer, but cooler nights (a welcome relief in July and August). In winter there is often snow on the high peaks and one can ski from several points. You can find more detailed information and average temperatures on our WEATHER section.

4) What language do they speak in Corsica?
The official language is French although Corsican - U Corsu - is widely spoken amongst the locals. Even if your French is a bit rusty, the Corsicans love it if you try and will often help you. The restaurants along the ports and in the big towns do sometimes produce their menus in 3 languages; English, French and Italian, but English is not widely spoken. If you have a smattering of Italian or even Spanish, you will probably be able to make yourself understood. A good guide book or phrase book will be a big help in making yourself understood - see below GUIDE BOOKS

5) How do we get there?
There are direct charter flights from the UK which operate on a Sunday throughout the summer (May to October). Outside of these dates you can fly via Nice, Marseille or Paris as well as some regional airports in mainland France, and then catch a connecting flight over to the island. Finding cheap flights to a little known destination such as Corsica can be difficult, but you can find more information in our TRAVEL section together with information about ferries and driving to Corsica.

6) Should I book direct or with a Tour Operator
When you book through a tour operator, they will 'package' the holiday for you, adding the flights to the accommodation and car hire or transfers and then give you a total price. This price will obviously include the cost of providing a rep, producing a brochure and a hefty chunk of profit for the company! When you book direct, you need to do a bit of extra work because you'll need to book each bit separately (although there are people who can help you with that), but the chances are you'll save because you cut out the middle man. Why not have a look at a few websites and compare the prices. If you're fairly independent and you're not too worried about having someone to 'look after you' when you arrive, you could bag yourself a bargain. Why not try www.directcorsica.com.

7) What if I can't travel on a Sunday?
Most of the self catering property is let on a Sunday to Sunday basis to tie in with the arrival of the direct charter flights from the UK, but there are other options. British Airways run midweek flights from Gatwick to Bastia during the summer, and the low cost airlines operate almost daily to the south of france and then you can catch a connecting flight to the island. Hotels will allow you to arrive any day and stay for any duration (subject to availability of course), but if you plan to travel before the middle of May or after the middle of September, some property owners will allow flexible arrival dates, so it's worth asking if you find something you particularly like.

8) What's the best area?
This is such a difficult question, because having travelled the country myself, I think that each of the regions has something different to offer and the whole island is very beautiful. The regional sections have more detailed descriptions of what you can expect - click HERE. The best advice I can give is that it is probably best to find a property to suit you and then investigate what the surrounding area has to offer, because most things; sports, activities, beaches, wild and beautiful scenery, atmospheric towns and nice restaurants can be found in all the areas.

9) Where are the best beaches?
This is a difficult one because they are all very beautiful, but all quite different. We have actually dedicated a whole section to the beaches; what they're like and how to find them - click HERE for more information. Calvi is perhaps the most widely reported as the best for children because the waters are exceptionally shallow, but there are other beaches that are just as nice and some of the best are often tucked away unmarked, so don't be afraid to explore - you might discover a hidden gem!

10) Is it safe to swim in the sea?
YES! The water is clean and clear (and generally warm) all around the island, and it is a joy to swim in the sea. Some beaches are interspersed with rocks, so extra care is needed in areas where there may be rocks under the water. Sea urchins live amongst the rocks, so it is always a good idea to wear rocks shoes or flippers when swimming to protect your feet. The beaches do vary; some shelve very gently and you can wander out for nearly a mile without getting out of your depth. Others do shelve more steeply, so always familiarise yourself with the beach before allowing children go into the water unsupervised.

11) Is it safe?
Petty crime is minimal and tends to be of the opportunist variety; theft from unlocked cars or those with valuables on show, pickpockets in the larger towns and cities. Violent crime, especially against tourists, is thankfully very rare.

12) What about women travellers?
In Corsica, women are less likely to experience sexual harassment than in mainland France or Italy, and an inbuilt respect for women means that men will rarely if ever take advantage of a situation or woman in trouble. Over the years I have lived alone on the island and driven through across the mountains at night-time and I have never experienced any problems, but you should never take unnecessary risks.

13) Is it child friendly?
Corsica is very child friendly and locals will often engage the children before the parents! Children are welcome in restaurants although they generally don't have different children's meals as children in Corsica eat at the same time as their parents, and the same things. Most supermarkets stock baby food and nappies although you may find that the brands differ from those at home. Some areas can be difficult to navigate with a pushchair so always check before booking.

14) What's the cost of living like?
Generaly speaking the cost of living is about the same as the UK; higher on some things such as Coca Cola but cheaper on others like eating out. You can generally get a reasonable 2 or 3 course meal for about 20 euros a head (about £15) or delicious Italian style pizzas for about 5-9 euros each (about £3.50-6.50). House wine is generally good quality - red or rose is normally best - and is ordered as a pichet (jug). See our FOOD and DRINK section for more information.

15) Are the shops open on a Sunday?
Well, there's no easy answer to that one. With our 24h shopping culture here in the UK, it can sometimes be a bit of a shock to find that Corsican supermarkets still close at about 7pm and take a 2-3 hour break for lunch! Most supermarkets will be closed on Sundays although during July and August some of the larger ones will open in the mornings. In most of the bigger towns, there will generally be a shop that's open on Sunday mornings and again in the afternoon for a couple of hours where you can get the basics to tide you over until the supermarkets open again on Monday morning.

16) Can you drink the water?
Yes, the water in Corsica is normally safe to drink from the tap, especially if you then boil it to make tea or coffee. If you do have a sensitive stomach, bottled water is freely available and much cheaper than in the UK. Corsica has three mineral water plants; Zilia and San Georges which produce still water (plat) and Orezza which produces a sparkling water with a very distinctive taste (gazeuse). Supermarkets often stock cheaper 'own brand' water as well.

17) Telephones and calling home
UK Mobiles will work in Corsica if they are roaming enabled. To dial a local number from a UK mobile you will need to dial the international code 0033 and miss off the first zero of the number i.e. 0033 4 95 To dial a UK number, just dial as normal. To dial the UK from phones in Corsica, dial 0044 and then miss off the first zero of the number i.e, 0044 208 To use a public telephone, you will need a Télécarte (phonecard) which can be bought from Tabacs, or you can buy a 'Carte Téléphonique a code' from the post office which will allow you to use the public phones and also the phone at your holiday accommodation if there is one, even if the line is restricted to local calls.

18) Can I change money / use credit cards?
Since the introduction of the euro, you won't come across many (if any) bureau de change in Corsica so if you do need to change money, you'll need to go to a bank. In smaller towns like Calvi none of the banks wish to offer a permanent change service so they operate a rota system each taking a turn at having a change counter. If you go into any bank they will tell you who is operating the service that day. Generally, banks are open from 8:30am - 12pm and from 1:30 - 5pm. Credit cards are now fairly widely accepted although you may still find that you'll need to pay cash in some of the smaller shops and restaurants, so it's best to check before eating. Supermarkets will accept most credit cards and some debit cards, but you will need to know your pin number. Before you travel, it's a good idea to make a note of your card details and the emergency number for the issuing bank just in case they are lost (or stolen).

19) Do they have cash machines in Corsica?
Nearly all the banks now have cash dispensers (distributeur de billets). To withdraw cash, choose the option 'retrait'. You will also find cash machines at the post office in some of the larger towns.

20) What's the driving like in Corsica?
In Corsica, they drive on the right and the chances are that you will have hired a car which will be left hand drive. The main roads are generally good and there is less traffic than we are used to in the UK, so keep well to the right and take it easy until you feel comfortable driving on the roads. Once you start to head into the villages, the roads are mountainous, narrow and windy, so extra care should be taken especially at night when you can't see any cows or pigs that might be wandering along in the middle of the road. For more information, click on 'Driving in Corsica' from the menu above.

21) What's the speed limit in Corsica?
The speed limit in most built up areas is 50 km/ph but in villages this is reduced to 30 km/h or even 20 km/h. The limit on single lane main roads is 90 km/h and on dual carriageways 110 km/h but you should be aware that in wet conditions, this is legally reduced by 10km/h to 80 km/h and 100 km/h respectively. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and stick to the lower limit. The locals rarely stick to the limit and will often drive quite close behind, but don't feel you have to speed up because they will simply go round you if they want to. Random police checks are quite common so always drive sensibly and have your documentation to hand (driving licence, identification, rental car contract, insurance documents for the vehicle).

22) Can I buy English Newspapers in Corsica?
You can normally find English newspapers at supermarkets, tabacs and some book shops. There's not much choice, and the ones you can get are likely to be a day old and cost about 2-3 euros.

23) Things that bite and sting
Mosquitos can be a problem from time to time, particularly if you are eating on the water front, but no so much in the accommodation. If you are susceptible to bites, creams and sprays are widely available in the supermarkets and pharmacies and you can also buy handy plug in mosquito repellants. There are a variety of insects and reptiles on the island which you may not be familiar with at home and although most are harmless they can sometimes cause an uncomfortable bite or sting. When swimming or playing in the sea where there are rocks, sea urchins can cause a nasty sting to the foot and the spines can be painful and difficult to remove. A simple solution is to wear rock shoes that are widely available from supermarkets and souvenir shops near the beach.

24) What if we're ill?
If you do have any minor injuries or illnesses while you're away, pharmacies in France can help with general prescribing and are normally the first port of call rather than a doctors appointment. However, if you do need to see a doctor, most surgeries don't have a receptionist, and there is no appointments system for all or part of the day - simply turn up and wait your turn. Details can be found in Corse Matin, the local newspaper. Don't forget to get your EHIC before you leave (the replacement for the E111 form) and keep any receipts.

25) Which Guide books do you recommend?
It's just a personal opinion, but my favourite is the Cadogan guide because it is written in an easy, conversational style and it's both informative and entertaining. Other good choices are the Lonely Planet Guide (good factual information, but a little bit basic) or the Rough Guide (a bit wordy so can be hard going, but very informative). If you're simply looking for a pocket phrase book, I am a fan of the Collins Gem Phrase finders. Designed for ease of use, they give simple key phrases (which are also written phonetically underneath for help with pronunciation), together with examples of the replies you might expect.

26) Can I buy duty free at Corsican airports
The airports in Corsica aren't very big and generally aren't very well equipped. Most have a small café/bar, toilets and a souvenir shop, but none have 'duty free' shops. If you do want to bring back cigarettes or alcohol, it's best to buy it before you get to the airport. Cigarettes are generally much cheaper than in the UK. If you are travelling with children, it's best to make sure you have a bottle of water with you and maybe a snack as sometimes the café/bars do run out of essentials, especially if there is a delay.

27) What can I expect to find in the kitchen
With the exception of bigger or more luxurious villas, kitchens in Corsica tend to be more simple than we are used to in the UK. Often you will find just two hob rings and either a mini-oven or a microwave as opposed to a full cooker. Equally, the Corsicans don't understand the British love of kettles, so you may find that although a cafetiere is provided, for tea you may need to heat a saucepan of water. A kitchen that is described as a kitchen corner or kitchenette is unlikely to be a fitted kitchen and sometimes don't have a huge amount of units and worktops which is why a table is always provided. You will normally find the kitchen equipment listed in the description of a property for this reason, but if there is something that is particularly important to you, be sure to check before booking.

28) What time can I arrive
At most properties, you will not be able to access the accommodation until the afternoon. This is because all the changeover day is the same for all the accommodation and good cleaners are hard to find, so extra time needs to be allowed between the departure of one set of guests and the arrival on another. Guests who have hired cars are advised to leave the luggage in the car and either go to the beach or take a leisurely lunch whilst they are waiting. For guests who have not hired a car, there is sometimes somewhere that you can leave your luggage whilst you are waiting.

29) Will there be a starter pack
Unless it is specifically mentioned in the property descriptions, starter pacs are not provided. Although the supermarkets are closed on Sundays, in each of the larger towns there is usually a grocery shop or mini-market open at least during the mornings and often in the afternoon (closed over lunchtime, normally 12-3pm). If you have booked via directCorsica, you will be sent a link approximately two weeks before arrival in Corsica with extra information including ideas of things to see and do, the best beaches in the area and even information about shopping and opening times.

About Corsica - Where is Corsica - Map of Corsica - History of Corsica
Weather in Corsica - Places to stay - Travel - Getting around - Driving and Car Hire
Eating Out - Corsican Wine - Things to See and Do - Sports and Activities
Beaches - Corsica in Bloom - Language - Photos of Corsica - FAQ's - Contact Us