Feel L’Île-Rousse with our sensory experiences…
See the rocky islets glowing red at sunset, from which the town takes its name
Taste an array of tempting Corsican produce at the covered market, from richly-marbled charcuterie to olives and maquis-infused honey.
Owing its name to the craggy islets of red porphyry on which it stands, L’Île-Rousse in Corsica’s north-western Balagne region blends rustic tradition with modernity. There were settlements on the town’s peninsula (known as Île de la Pietra) during the Neolithic period; much later, in the 16th century, a watchtower was erected by the Genoese in order to ward off barbarian invasions. The peninsula has been connected to the town by a bridge since 1851 and, from where the lighthouse stands at its tip, the view across the water towards the archipelago is spectacular – especially at sunset when you get the full effect of the glowing red rocks.
L’Île-Rousse is today a chic holiday hotspot with a vibrant atmosphere and, in the evening, the bars and restaurants lining the port come alive. In the old town, stroll through streets named after Pascal Paoli, Napoleon and Louis Philippe around the main square (Place Paoli), shaded by old plane trees. Taste wonderful local products – fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, cheese, wine and olive oil – at the covered market, a 21-pillared portico resembling a classical temple and listed as a monument historique since 1993. Wander the fragrant seven-hectare Parc de Saleccia, an amazing natural wonder and Corsica’s only botanical garden dedicated to aromatic plants and flowers from across the Mediterranean. Other worthy walks are through the Tartagine-Melaja forest, where a winding road climbs to the Col de Battaglia at an altitude of 1,000m, and through the Desert des Agriates, a barren but dramatic landscape of rocks and scrubland where eagles soar overhead.
Discover local handicrafts in the villages of Pigna and Sant’Antonino, perched in the hills just a few miles inland; follow the Route des Artisans and meet the artisan communities in their workshops: glass-blowers, potters and ceramists, jewellers, musical instrument-makers and many more. Wine connoisseurs shouldn’t miss the vineyard tour itinerary across 276 hectares between L’Île-Rousse and Calvi, a delightful wine terroir producing rich, aromatic wines with their own strong identity. But if all your heart desires is the water, head to any of L’Île-Rousse’s attractive beaches. Surrounded by wonderful natural scenery, Lozari is ideal for gentle swimming and sunbathing but famous also for its family-friendly watersports. The large Ostriconi beach is the place to take your camera, with dunes of fine white sand, turquoise water and wild, truly unspoiled natural beauty. From the coast road you can enjoy an extraordinary view of the beach and hotfoot it down between rocks and shrubs to reach the water’s edge.