I love Ajaccio. We've been five times (once to do a full tour of the island of Corsica) and went back last year. We usually go by ferry from Nice or Marseille. For us, the highlights include:
- Rue Fesch: to go shopping, have a drink, or visit the Imperial Chapel
- Quai de la Republique: you can visit the market place to buy food, flowers, jewelry, and clothes
- Place Foch: where the statue of Napoleon is located
- La Citadelle: a sensational fortress overlooking the city and the beach of Saint François
- The Cathedral
- Napoleon House
- Place General de Gaulle
- Iles Sanguinaires for stunning sunsets
They're called that because pirates once wreaked havoc in these waters, which are a spectacular shade of turquoise-blue. The cape is dotted with small little beaches. One of them seemed like the most lively of the bunch, with a small beach volleyball court and everything.
Ajaccio is known as Napoleon's birthplace and as the city he made a capital. It's a place that offers numerous attractions like its charming old port. It's a mix of pleasure boats and fishing boats, whose bright colors help to cheer up the landscape. The small port, called "Tino Rossi" is located between the city and the mountains and is quite nice. It's full in the day and is a hive of activity late in the afternoon when the light changes every minute in front of the mountains. I spent a few minutes contemplating life in the harbor at that calm hour. The comings and goings of the boats and sailing vessels, of the sailors ve clean and take care of their boats, families out for a walk, etc. Everything mixes perfectly and an air of peace sets over the place.
This museum is the Palace of Fine Arts. The palace, the museum, and the statue owe their name to a cardinal ve was Napoleon’s uncle and an art aficionado. Cardinal Fesch gifted his collection of over 17,000 works of art (of which 16,000 are paintings) to the island. It ranges from primitive art to the Italian Renaissance. Most are found in numerous museums around the world, but this museum has 1000 works which comprise the second largest collection of Italian art after Louvre. It’s open from October 1 to April 30, with opening hours of Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 to 17h, and the rest of the week from 12 to 17h. It’s closed on Tuesdays. From May 1 to September 30, it’s is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10.30am to 18pm, and the rest from 12 to 18h. Closed on Tuesdays. Entry fee is 8 €.
In the heart of the city, is the house of the Bonaparte family that allows you to imagine the childhood and youth of the Emperor and the history of his family. You see the different rooms with furniture, utensils and vintage objects. It has a garden in front with stunning and fragrant flowers. Situated in Corsica since the early seventeenth century, the family of Charles and Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte, Napoleon's parents, occupied this house in 1682. Open in summer from 9 to 12h and 14 to 18h, in winter from 10 to 12h and from 14 to 4:45 p.m., closed on Mondays. Entry 7€ in summer and 6€ in winter.
The Genoese have profoundly affected Corsica. The history of this beautiful island is inevitably linked to this mighty empire whose culture has left indelible marks on the heritage, arts and culture of Corsica. Architecture is the best example. You can easily notice the Genovese window shutters sitting half-open as you walk down the street. I really enjoyed my walks through the streets, so sunny and full of warm colors ranging from orange to light pink. Napoleon Bonaparte is obviously very present in the city. He's a son of the country, and made Ajaccio the capital of Corsica, replacing Bastia. You can visit the house dedicated to the figure of Napoleon (his birthplace is now a museum). You can't miss Ajaccio Cathedral. It's a Renaissance style cathedral with a Greek cross, and is a very original salmon color. During my walk there, I met sailors (they are tons of them in Ajaccio), who reminded me of the city's maritime past.
At the foot of Capo di Feno, there's a beach out of your wildest dreams! Fine white sand, clear water, andan exceptional environment. The beach of Capo di Feno is surrounded by wilderness whose peace and beauty seduced me completely. There are actually two beaches, one large and one small. The former is nice for those who like their personal space. Once there, I enjoyed a delightful cottage where you can cool off or have a bite to eat on a shaded tables with palm leaf umbrellas. A moment of pleasure! But getting to this divine place is tricky! To arrive by car, you must follow a rocky path and get a bit lost, a charming adventure that prepares you for the wilderness to come! But still, after several kilometers, the beach is signposted on the panels of the cabins. For the brave, you can walk the Sanguinaires Islands, which are quite pleasant, and get to Capo di Feno in about an hour.
In Corsica there are many things that are worth seeing such as the beaches, the mountains, the small and charming villages. But the cuisine is also wonderful. And to find good local products, nothing beats the market! The Ajaccio is especially attractive. I had a great time enjoying the many Corsican specialties and soaking up the environment. The affable traders will not hesitate to offer you a taste of their products, a delight for me! The stalls of cheese and deli are very pleasant. As for cheese, I discovered amazing varieties like the famous Brocciu with sheep milk. Very popular in the region, is often used in cooking. Other typical products: sausages are not lacking in variety! I had the opportunity to taste the figatelli, a kind of small sausages based on liver and pork meat eaten both raw and dry roasted. It's delicious!. The Lonzu also succulent beef jerky ... This looks like salami and is delicious. With regard to snacks, there are also all, myrtle liquor, chestnuts and many others. Best way to discover the rich gastronomy corsa!
Ajaccio is on the west coast of Corsica, halfway between the north and south. There are beaches on the road from the Sanguinary Islands on the outskirts of the city, each even more beautiful than the last. One is picture-perfect Marinella. The sand is pure white and the water is absolutely crystal clear. A paradise! Just behind it you'll find where Tino Rossi decided to take up residence. For those ve prefer the comfort of lounge chairs, you can rent them there or relax on a hammock under a sun umbrella. On the right, there is a rocky outcrop on which the sea breaks and reminds us of the wildness of this beach. Here and there there are moored boats which are perfectly integrated into the landscape. I have a wonderful memory of Marinella, where I enjoyed a great time swimming and sunbathing. Very fulfilling!
Although rain hampered our visit to Ajaccio in Corsica, there were some must-see places that we couldn't pass up. So, umbrella in hand, we walked quickly away from the small city centre to the Place d'Austerlitz. There you can see an imposing monument to the glory of Napoleon. You can climb the stairs to the top, and get a good view of the city. The sculpture is a replica of the one at the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris. The square is a large unpaved space used for concertss and other activities. A good place to sit and soak up the history that linked the Emperor to this, his birthplace.
Ajaccio has two ports, Tino Rossi and the Admiralty, also called Charles Omano. With around 500 places, Admiralty is the most important of the two but is slightly less central than the other. A short stroll along the docks late in the day, just before the sun goes down, is very nice. The reflection of the boats is a gorgeous picture, enlivened by flashes. The mountains aren't far away and contribute to the beauty of the landscape. Just behind is the ferry dock port and you can see their impressive movements back and fort. There are bars and restaurants along the harbor, I walked into one of them and it was good value for money, more affordable than in the center, with very attentive service. A nice walk to enjoy late in the afternoon and a really pleasant place to discover.
Ajaccio Cathedral is small and charming, and is located in a sunny place by the sea. It's framed by palm trees, and was built in 1582, by Giacomo della Porta, it is in the Renaissance style with a Greek cross and a simple ochre facade. Inside you can see gilded stucco and beautiful paintings. It is worth mentioning that Napoleon was baptized here, in July, 1871.
How can you stay on the Corsican coast and not try the seafood? In Ajaccio, I found a fish market entirely devoted to the pleasures of the sea ... the freshness of the products must mean that most of the fish comes from the Gulf. I recommend trying the fried small fish which are pan-fried and marinated. This fish market has a great atmosphere and is more of a meeting place than a market. For me, as a tourist and day visitor, it was the opportunity to meet locals and talk about local life that was so good. To purchase fresh seafood, meet the local people, or simply to enjoy the warmth of the place, feel free to take a stroll through the fish market!
Like most Corsican cities, Ajaccio has a citadel built by the Genoese republic in four stages between 1492 and 1789. It’s hexagonal and composed of six bastions. It dominates the Gulf of Ajaccio, and played a defensive role in the city for many years. It’s unique because it’s open to the general public. For a long time, it remained under military rule. Once, a mysterious thief planned a heist of the citadel since it was rumored to contain a fortune during the transition from francs to euros. To get there, follow the beach of Saint François, located downtown. You’ll enjoy a wonderful view of the city and the turquoise sea. An incredible place!
There are six or seven restaurants with terraces along the street, a charming place to have a pizza or enjoy a family dinner. There's also a 4-star hotel and a very nice bookstore. Narrow but charming.
There are more than twenty beaches along the Gulf of Ajaccio, there is even one in the heart of the city which is opposite the Cathedral and the old town. It is fortunate to be shopping or working and have a beautiful beach with crystal clear water at your feet in a few minutes. The most beautiful beaches are on the way to the Sanguinaires, but during the high season (July-August) they are usually packed. These beaches are 12 kilometers west of Ajaccio and have wild, magical and unforgettable sunsets. The more adventurous can follow the trails of Cretes that appear in the English Woods (Bois des Anglais). Across the bay, Porticcio also has beautiful beaches. The beaches Viva and Agosta, larger than the Sanguinaires, offer a more "urban beach".
The south wing of the chapel was built by the order of Napoleon III with inheritance money from the Cardinal. The goal was for it to be the imperial family's mausoleum. The building built in 1860 is classified as a historical monument and is not very impressive from the outside. The neo-Renaissance stone stands out the most. The most interesting part is the crypt which is circular inside and holds the ashes of the most prominent members of the family. The altar and stained glass are also impressive. Unfortunately the remains of Napoleon aren't here, they are in Paris. It is expected to reopen in 2012, is currently closed for maintenance.
When I thinks of Corsica, the first thing that comes to mind is that it was where Napoleon was born. In Ajaccio, you can not only find his home, but also lots of statues and streets named in honor of the city's most famous son. In the bustling Place Foch, there's a statue/fountain of Napoleon surrounded by four lions.
Lucky visitors will be spoiled with all of the things to do in Ajaccio. This French city is famous for being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and the capital of Corsica. Most things in Ajaccio are related to its unique geographic location overlooking the sea with a stunning backdrop of snowy mountains that can stay white until springtime. Some of the best places to visit in Ajaccio are its beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters. Other important things to see in Ajaccio are related to its rich architectural heritage.
If you're still wondering what to do in Ajaccio, the National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence and the Imperial Chapel are at the top of the list. Other main Ajaccio attractions are monuments such as the Renaissance-era Cathedral, the Fesch Museum, or the 16th-century Citadel.
The Citadel, a fort built in 1492 that houses a "castello" (tower) and six bastions, is usually ranked as one of the best places to see in Ajaccio by most guidebooks, but you can't actually visit it because it belongs to the army.
If you're looking for different types of Ajaccio activities besides monuments, there are a great range of excursions and tours of the city. The city council web page, 'What to do in Ajaccio today' sections, lists tours on foot or by car that are available for visitors. If you still find yourself stuck looking for stuff to in Ajaccio, you'll find plenty of suggestions from real travelers on minube about the best attractions in Ajaccio.