Classic Cols of Corsica

Corsica

  • Ride the stunning island of Corsica: coastal roads, mountains, quiet roads, historic towns.
  • Flexible itinerary to suit mixed ability groups with optional extras for those looking for a challenge.
  • Classic Cols challenge: up to 2500m ascent per day.
  • Comfortable and friendly 2 and 3* hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists.
  • Excellent support from 2 customised support vans and 2 experienced, proactive guides focused on making your holiday the best it can be.

Days on the bike

6 days

Price

2017: £1300

Departure Dates

2017

May

  • 7th May - 14th May
  • 14th May - 21st May

Sep

  • 24th Sep - 1st Oct

Oct

  • 1st Oct - 8th Oct

Introduction

Corsica is a stunning island to explore on 2 wheels.  It offers all the ‘essential’ ingredients for a fabulous cycling holiday: mountains, coastal roads, historic ports and towns, sunshine and warm scented breezes.   Add a splash of Corsican culture and it is hard to go wrong!  This flexible road cycling holiday showcases Corsica’s highlights perfectly with far reaching sea views, peaceful roads, beautiful climbs and of course excellent support from 2 Marmot guides and vehicles.

We have designed the Classic Route so that, taken steadily, it is manageable and enjoyable for healthy cyclists regardless of experience in the mountains. However, this holiday also offers a fantastic challenge to those wanting to push themselves further: each day there are ‘optional extra’ loops and climbs increasing the possible daily distance to around 130km/day with  between 2000 and 2700m of climbing per day on the Challenge Route.

It is important to us that you book the correct holiday so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need on how this holiday works, food, accommodation & travel…   If you are a fit cyclist who has already done a Raid challenge, then you may also be interested in our Raid Corsica.

I hope to be able to do another tour with The Marmot Group again and will be recommending them to everyone as I found everything first class and Alan and Tez were an amazing duo.

J Howard

Map

Itinerary

Day 0: Travel Out

We offer included airport transfers from Ajaccio to the 3* start hotel overlooking the Gulfe d’Ajaccio (30mins).

Our pick up times are when we will be leaving the airport, all being well.  Please don’t book flights arriving later than suggested below (in brackets).

Pick up:
Ajaccio Airport @ 10.00 (to meet 09:30 EJ flight from LGW)

We are also able to meet any ferry arrival into Ajaccio.

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.

Meet your guides, assemble bikes, and go for a warm up ride in the hills behind the hotel (climb to 550m for some spectacular views) or relax on the beach and enjoy the cafés!  Get together in the evening for a trip briefing and good dinner. Accommodation: 3* hotel with pool

Day 1: Ajaccio to Zonza

You start your Corsica adventure undulating down the coastline to Propriano for a coffee in the idyllic harbour. The first climb up the Col de Mela (717m) is relatively gentle followed by undulations through fantastic rural scenery to the mountain hamlet of Zonza. Here you can head to the hotel swimming pool or continue (up) to the beautiful Col de Bavella (1218m), a Mecca for rock climbers and walkers taking on sections of the GR20. Some of you might even be tempted to continue to the Col de Larone (600m), so you can take on the Col de Bavella (1218m) from the steep side.

Accommodation: 3* hotel with pool.

Classic route: Col de Mela to Zonza (91km with 1550m ascent)
Challenge Route: Col de Mela + Col de Bavella S (109km and 2000m ascent)
Optional Extra: Col de Bavella N (adds 24km and 800m ascent)

Day 2: Zonza to Aleria

Today you explore the mountainous interior of the island on an amazing road linking remote unspoilt villages; expect to see more pigs than people today!  We all set off over the Col de La Vaccia (1194m) and the Col de Verde (1289m) to Ghisoni. Here those on the Classic Route continue to descend down the spectacular gorge of the Orbu river to our hotel in the town of Aleria with its Roman ruins (worth a visit!).

Those on the Challenge Route will head upwards from Ghisoni through the forest to the Col de Sorba (1311m). You can then enjoy an incredible descent on a new road to Vivario, before heading over the remote and very pleasant Col d’Erbajo (910m) and descending to the hotel.

Accommodation: 2* hotel with pool

Classic Route: Vaccia + Verde (119km with 1300m ascent)
Challenge Route: Vaccia + Verde + Sorba + Erbajo (151km with 2300m ascent)

Day 3: Aleria to St Florent

With the rising sun on your back, you leave the coastal plane and head gently up the Tavignano valley through an ever changing landscape to the town of Corte, once the capital of Corsica, and hosting an imposing citadel. From here you pass over the Col di San Quilico (560m) to the town of Ponte Leccia where you head off the beaten track on a narrow road that climbs, with some big views, to the Col de Bigorno (885m). The descent takes you to the port of St Florent where we stay for 2 nights.  As always there are options for making the ride harder. First thing in the morning you can detour to the church of Piedicorte-di-Gaggio (730m) before descending to Corte. Then you have the options of adding in the Col de Ominanda (653m) and the Col de Croce d’Arbitro (664m) before joining the Classic Route over the Col de Bigorno (885m)

Accommodation: 3* hotel with pool

Classic Route: San Quilico + Bigorno (124km with 1400m ascent)
Challenge Route: Piedicorte-di-Gaggio + Ominanda + Croce d’Arbitro + Bigorno (144km with 2400m ascent)

Day 4: Circular Route from St Florent

St Florent is an idyllic Corsican town so  anyone wanting a day on 2 feet as opposed to 2 wheels could enjoy a spot of exploring and taking advantage of the hotel pool.  That said, cycling around Cap Corse is one of the highlights of the week!  We do the loop anticlockwise, so get the climb up the Col de Taghime (552m) done first thing in the morning. After the descent to Bastia, you  join a spectacular road that undulates its way along the coast linking sheltered coves, for 30 km’s to the fishing village of Macinaggio. You then cross over the Col de la Sera (365m) to the west coast. This side of the peninsula is dramatically different and the road stays high linking hill top villages and commanding great views.

Yet again there are options involving criss-crossing the peninsula two more times, over the Col de Notre Dame des Graces (368m) and the Col de Sainte Lucie (381m)

Accommodation: 3* hotel with pool

Classic Route: Taghime + Sera (129km with 1300m ascent)
Challenge Route: Taghime + Sera + ND des Graces + St Lucie (154km with 2000m ascent)

Day 5: St Florent to Calvi

Leaving St Florent this morning, you climb through the geological chaos of the Desert des Agriates – another strikingly different landscape. After a fantastic descent, you head inland once more, on a very narrow road taking you through the isolated hamlet of Novella and up to the Col San Colombano (694m). The final part of this is on the old ‘main road’, which traverses the mountainside with big views of the coast to the North.

After lunching in Belgodere, join a ‘balcony road’ that winds its way around the mountain side linking remote villages, while remaining fairly flat for 25kms! Eventually you descend to the historic town of Calvi, hopefully in time to explore the citadel and enjoy the sandy beach.

For challenge routers: Today’s first optional extra takes you in search of an even more spectacular view from the Col de Batailie (1096m), where there is a great restaurant for lunch. At the end of the day the route can also extended by continuing along the ‘balcony road’ a bit further to Calenzana.

Accommodation: 2* hotel

Easier Route: Petraiolu + balcony road (89km with 900m ascent)
Classic Route: Petraiolu + San Colombano (104km with 1300m ascent)

Challenge Route: Petraiolu + Bataille + Col de Salvi + Bocca di Neraghia (137km with 2300m ascent)

Day 6: Calvi to Sagone

Regardless of your route choice, you will enjoy a fabulous last day on the bike today. Head off around the stunning NW coast road, which despite the fairly rough surface, is a highlight. It leads you into the Col de Palmerella (408m), which commands a great view along the rugged western coastline.

In the village of Porto its decision time: 1) continue on this spectacular road past the famous red cliffs of Piana to the Col de Lava (491m) OR 2) leave the coast and head for the highest road pass on the island – the Col de Vergio (1477m). Both options lead you down to our seafront hotel overlooking the Golfe de Sagone.

All that is left to do is enjoy a celebratory dinner and final glass of Pietra beer from our beach restaurant as the sun sets over the horizon. Happy Days!

Accommodation: 2* hotel with pool

Easier Route: Lift to Galeria, Palmerella + Lava  (90km and 1300m ascent)
Classic Route: Palmerella + Lava (126km with 1600m ascent)
Challenge Route: Palmerella + Vergio  + Sevi (157km with 2600m ascent)

Day 7: Travel Back

We offer included airport transfers at specified times.

Our drop off times are when we will be arriving at the airport, all being well.  Please don’t book flights leaving earlier than suggested below (in brackets).  

Drop off: Ajaccio Airport 08:00 (for EJ 10.00 flight to LGW)

We are also able to drop you at Ajaccio Port for any ferry crossing.

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.