We all know that the best way to see a country is by bike and this did not disappoint.
The Raid Corsica is a fabulous cycling route created by the Parisian Audax club, which showcases the whole of the “Isle of Beauty”. Corsica is a mountainous and geographically diverse Mediterranean island with a huge variety of terrain – coastlines lapped by inviting azure seas, flatland marshes, the ‘Desert des Agriates’, a wild interior of high granite peaks, and a huge National Park covering over a third of the island. It has a complex history, and influences from Italy and France are evident in the cuisine, architecture, language and politics.
The Raid Corsica road cycling challenge is comparable to other raids of a similar length, such as Raid Pyrenean and Raid Alpine. There are fewer big cols but you will not be disappointed by cols such as the Vergio (1477m), and Sorba, Verde and Bavella which are all over 1200m altitude. Distances are a little longer than on other Marmot Raids, with an average daily route of 161km.
Since 2004 we have been supporting cyclists in achieving their goals in the mountains of Europe. You will be supported by two Marmot guides (in our highly customised support vans) who are attentive and energetic and whose aim is to make your holiday the best it can be. We are passionate about what we do, and we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and individual customer focus from your first enquiry to the last moment of your holiday.
If you want to visit Corsica but do not want to do a Raid, then you may want to try our Corsican Highlights holiday, which has flexible route options every day, and is great for mixed ability groups. In case you’re wondering “what’s the difference between Sardinia and Corsica?”, we posted a blog to answer this question (in two parts, in fact – there was a lot to say!). Both Part I & Part II are a great read and we hope it helps you decide which of these Mediterranean isles is best for you and your two wheels. We also wrote a blog on Raids which gives a thorough run down on the history and format of a Raid. Head over to our You Tube channel to see a video giving you a flavour of this great challenge!
It is important to us that you book a holiday that’s right for you, so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need on how this holiday works, food, accommodation & travel …
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Departure Dates & Prices
We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts off the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):
- Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% early bookers discount
- Get a group of 10+ people together for a 7.5% group discount and, as the group organiser, receive a £150 voucher for your next holiday
- Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.
Day 0: Arrival day
We offer transfers from Bastia BIA airport (35min) and Bastia ferry terminal (10min) to our start hotel just north of Bastia at various times of the day.
Full travel advice and transfer information (essential reading before booking your flights/ferry) can be found in our Trip Notes.
Our start hotel overlooks the Mediterranean and has access to a small beach. With its rooftop swimming pool it is the perfect place to relax and prepare for the upcoming cycling challenge. There will be time to assemble your bikes and have a welcome briefing and great dinner.
Day 1: Bastia to Calvi
An early start sees you heading around Cap Corse on a unique and stunning coast road with spectacular views. You arrive at the picturesque harbour town of St Florent for a well earned lunch at around the 100km mark, before climbing up to the rocky plateau of the ‘Desert des Agriates’.
A fabulous descent sees you back on the coast road and heading south to l’Ile Rousse. From here, you head inland again on a beautiful backroad into the hills – the reward for your efforts is a great view of the mountains and coast, and your destination Calvi way below. Calvi is one of the top tourist destinations on the island and if you have the energy for a dip in the sea or a stroll around the marina you will see why!
191km with 2370m ascent [ride profile]
Day 2: Calvi to Calacuccia
Today you head to the rural interior of Corsica, on the far side of rugged Mt Cinto, Corsica’s highest peak at 2700m.
A spectacular start today, as you head out on the stunning coast road that undulates south from Calvi. Once over the Col de Palmarella you descend to Porto, which is at the base of the climb through Les Calanches – a landscape of rocky spires high above the deep blue sea – which you get to see in both directions on your excursion to Piana for a carnet stamp.
After lunch, you have still to take on the highest road col in Corsica, the Col de Vergio (1477m), starting from sea level! This is a beautiful climb into the high mountains of Corsica, and you are further rewarded with a long descent to the mountain hamlet of Calacuccia where we stay the night.
160km with 2860m ascent [ride profile]
Day 3: Calacuccia to Santa-Maria-Siché
Today’s route explores Corsica’s southern uplands, starting with a great descent down a road that snakes alongside a river gorge. The historic capital town of Corte is well-placed for a coffee stop, to help power you over the five cols on today’s ride!
Heading southwards through the forested interior of the island, over the Col de Sorba (1311m), the Col de Verde (1289m), and the Col de Granacchio you eventually arrive in Santa-Maria-Siché for a warm welcome from the hotel.
133km with 2700m ascent [ride profile]
Day 4: Santa-Maria-Siché to Sartène
This morning you head up to the mountain village of Bastelica for a carnet stamp (and cafe stop!). From here you descend on blissfully quiet, small, rural roads to the coast and Ajaccio, the modern capital of Corsica. There is a short stretch on a main road to get your carnet stamped on the edge of Ajaccio, but you are soon back on the coast road, linking one deserted beach with the next.
Crossing the coastal hills of Corsica’s jagged western edge gives you spectacular views, and then delivers you to the delightful coastal town of Propriano – perfect for a mid-afternoon ice cream. From here it’s just one more climb to get to our hotel in Sartène, which is famous for its pirate history (fortunately now a very pleasant, historic, and typically Corsican town).
156km with 2540m ascent [ride profile]
Day 5: Sartène to Aléria
You have great tarmac, beautiful views and historic destinations today – everything you could possibly want from a cycling holiday! A fast, undulating road takes you to the incredible natural harbour at Bonifacio, on the very southern tip of the island where we pause for a coffee and a carnet stamp.
From here we head back northwards to Porto Vecchio, on Corsica’s east coast. The climbing begins again from here, peaking at the truly stunning Col de Bavella (1218m), where you are surrounded by towering granite peaks. A fabulous descent takes you back down to sea level before a rare, flat stretch of road to Aléria, where we stay the night.
187km with 2430m ascent [ride profile]
Day 6: Aléria to Bastia
We warm up with a slightly flatter start today, before exploring the hills that overlook Corsica’s north-east coast. The climb is well worth the effort – it is a beautiful route through picturesque villages and terraced hillsides, with a few cheeky climbs, of course!
Eventually, you drop back to the coast and join a small road that runs along a coastal spur between a lagoon and the sea. We finish our cycling challenge just south of Bastia in a resort hotel with swimming pool and access to a long beach. Now it’s time to celebrate!
119km with 2000m ascent [ride profile]
Day 7: Departure day
We offer included transfers from the hotel to Bastia BIA airport (15min) or the ferry terminal (25min).
Full travel advice and transfer timings (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.