Golfe de Porto-Vecchio
Heading south of Porto-Vecchio along the main N198, take the turning signposted for Palombaggia, a golden semicircle of sand edged by short twisted umbrella pines that are punctuated by fantastically shaped red rocks. This might be the most beautiful beach on the island were it not for the crowds, which pour on to it in such numbers that a wattle fence has had to be erected to protect the dunes. A few kilometres further along the same road takes you to Santa Giulia, a sweeping sandy bay backed by a lagoon. Despite the presence of several holiday villages and facilities for windsurfing and other noisier watersports, crowds are less of a problem here, and the shallow bay is an extraordinary turquoise colour.
North of Porto-Vecchio, the first beach worth a visit is San Ciprianu, a half-moon bay of white sand, reached by turning left off the main road at the Elf petrol station. Carry on for another 7km, and you'll come to the even more picturesque beach at Pinarellu, a uncrowded, long sweep of soft white sand with a Genoese watchtower and, like the less inspiring beaches immediately north of here, benefiting from the spectacular backdrop of the Massif de l'Ospédale.
The coast between Porto-Vecchio and Solenzara is also strewn with prehistoric monuments. The most impressive of these, Casteddu d'Araggiu, lies 12km north along the D759. From the site's car park (signposted off the main road), it's a twenty-minute stiff climb through maquis and scrubby woodland to the ruins. Built in 2000 BC and inhabited by a community that lived by farming and hunting, the casteddu consists of a complex of chambers built into a massive circular wall of pink granite, splashed with vivid green patches of lichen, from the top of which the views over the gulf are superb.
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