Corsica: Beach bliss on a wild isle

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

After the summer crowds have dispersed, Corsica's idyllic coastal campsites are free to enjoy in perfect peace, says Tristan Rutherford

My love affair with Corsica's campsites began in leaner times. A decade and a half ago, breakfast was an orange and lunch meant scrumping figs on a coastal path. Since then, the trail of campsites that rings this island's sandy shores has become something of a personal refuge – and one that has changed little since I first started visiting in the 1990s. What must be the eurozone's least-expensive beach holiday is still my yearly touchstone in an ever-more hectic world.

Sleeping under canvas here has a naturalness that is soothing to the soul. I woke up on my first morning of holiday this summer just millimetres above the earth. A moment later, a bird swept over our tent, the beat of wings fading from left to right like a cinema stereophonic-sound test. The dawn chorus was just as mesmerising. More than 20 species hummed in unison like attendees at a yoga retreat. This island may be twice the size of Cornwall yet it hosts just half the population: getting away from it all could hardly be more bucolic.

Yet it's Corsica's beaches, not birds, that make camping here so special. These stretches of sand range from Thai-style arcs backed by swaying palms to 10-mile-long, ice-white beaches that wouldn't look out of place in Brazil. The majority bask under National Park status, meaning that campsites are the only accommodation allowed near – and often right next to – the sand.

And this was exactly the case as I wandered past the swimming pool of Camping U Turracconu, an hour's drive south of the capital, Ajaccio, on my first morning stroll to the sea. At €9 per person per night, this near-deserted campground commands views over eight spellbindingly beautiful beaches. It's also the only lodgings for miles around.

My wife and I were the only people on the coastal path that winds down to Cupabia Plage. This triple-bayed gem is lapped by translucent water just a few feet deep. The herb-scented morning breeze reminded me of Southern England, but here the sunshine is virtually guaranteed, right through until late October. Corsica receives an average of just three and a half rainy days in July and August, compared with 14 for the Devon town of Teignmouth and 20 for Cornwall's Bude. But campers can choose between Corsica's midsummer bustle or have the place to themselves in September and October – which are hotter months than June and May respectively – when you can bask on the island's deserted beaches, too.

As we were visiting outside the French school holidays, we had two miles of white sand to ourselves. We swam out to the islands in the bay and

snorkelled with sea bream and a curious cormorant. It was so quiet, in fact, that my wife suggested that we take off our costumes. We dived down to the sandy ocean floor, where six feet of water pressure compressed our podgy tummies. No one could see us, which was a shame, since this was the only place we'd ever look good in the nude.

After a picnic lunch of fougasse (flatbread), brocciu (ewe's milk cheese) and half a jar of local honey, we hiked back to camp. The two tents of the previous night had become five in our absence. My wife performed some yogic stretches outside the tent as I wrote up my notes and tiny red spiders scrambled across the page. After a €15 dinner of two crispy pizzas and a litre of wine in the local restaurant, we crept back to the canvas. With our T-shirts balled up as pillows and a sarong for a sheet, we snoozed for 10 hours straight – four-season sleeping bags are not needed here.

After three days of such rural simplicity, we'd lost track of time. Mornings spun out like 1950s British Sundays – noiseless and carless – and the hardest decision was what sort of jam to have with breakfast (though it's fig or tangerine on this island, not gooseberry or damson).

Such quaintness came to surface as we toured the island's west coast around Propriano. The island boasts as much coastline as all the Balearics combined yet it receives just one-fifth of the visitors. However, the lo-tech website details every campsite on the island and led us down a single-track farm road to the village of Belvédère-Campomoro, where cows splashed around in the salt marsh and donkeys sighed beside the hedgerows. Here we found Camping La Vallée – an €8-per-person-per-night paradise tucked up against a white sand beach, where we pitched our home under a tree. Again, coastal walks filled our afternoons, and a blow-out meal of tuna tartare and steak frites on the beach provided our evening entertainment.

For our final stop, we headed for Corsica's south-eastern flank. Despite the low-cost air links from the UK, it seemed strange that we heard our first British voices only on our final day in Corsica. They pitched their tent by ours, a banal task micro-managed in a schoolteacher whine – we giggled as we were reminded of home. "Margot, may I suggest that you bring those poles a little further?"

Belying its €5.90-per-person price tag, Camping la Rondinara is the rural Ritz of campsites, with pitches set under pines in virgin Corsican countryside. Dragonflies and butterflies reminded us that we were 10 miles away from the nearest building, let alone hotel, while an on-site bakery, pool and pizzeria lent the place real class.

And the beach? Ask a child to draw their dream of a summer scene and they'll crayon a perfect round of sand lapped by shallow turquoise water. Plage de la Rondinara is that beach.

Travel essentials

Getting there

The main air links are on easyJet (0843 104 5000; from Gatwick to Bastia and Ajaccio, and from Manchester to Bastia. Thomson (0871 231 4787; flies from Gatwick to Figari in southern Corsica.

Camping there

Camping U Turracconu: 00 33 4 95 74 00 57;

Camping La Vallée: 00 33 4 95 74 21 20;

Camping la Rondinara: 00 33 4 95 70 43 15;

More information

00 33 4 95 51 00 00;

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits