Fly to Ajaccio. Once the group arrive there will be a briefing at a local café, providing an overview of how the week will work. It is advisable to meet the group at the hotel in the morning, so you can be at the meeting. There will then be free time to explore the pretty coastal town of Ajaccio. As the capital of Corsica and the birthplace of Napoleon it is brimming with history and culture. You can visit the cathedral, stroll along the harbour, absorb the Mediterranean buzz and peruse the chic shops.
In the morning you will receive your bike, if you have hired one, and there will be time to make sure we are all set up correctly. We then set off on our first ride of the week. Throughout the week we will be following Stage 3 of this year's Tour de France, and today we tackle the first section out of Ajaccio. The route winds its way up to the Col de Bastiano (411m) before a superb descent to the Gulf of Liscia. Our accommodation is located not far from the beautiful white sandy beaches that line the Gulf.
Ride Approx. 30km. Ascent +602m, descent -602m.
After breakfast we begin the day cycling along the spectacular coastline. The route then climbs up to the superb village of Cargese, whose Greek characteristics make it quite different from the rest of Corsica, due to 760 Greeks who arrived and settled here in 1676. It is worth taking a moment to explore here as the Greek architecture, tradition, cuisine and even language will make you feel like you have stepped into Greece for your stop.
The route then offers splendid views towards the interior of the island until we reach the much celebrated Calanches de Piana - deep red rock formations plunging dramatically towards the sea, a great place to capture some photos. We then enjoy a superb descent with stunning views towards the Gulf of Porto, our destination for the night. Porto is a pretty little seaside resort wedged between the dramatic red cliffs that dominate this area.
Ride Approx. 51km. Ascent +853m, descent -853m.
Today we have a choice as there are two excellent options out of Porto. For a day off the bike to delve a little further into the incredible natural environment of Corsica then there is the opportunity to visit the Scandola Marine Nature Reserve, a UNESCO heritage site. The gnarled, rocky outcrops were formed by volcanic activity and the colour of these against the azure blue of the sea is spectacular in itself. However, this is also an area where wildlife thrives and colonies of dolphins, seals, gulls, cormorants and ospreys can all be found here. We can take an optional boat tour to explore this area and then return to enjoy the beach at Porto.
Alternatively, we can take on the highest col in Corsica. The formidable Col de Verghio (+1464m) is the target and the route takes us through the pretty villages of Ota and Evisa (the chestnut capital of Corsica - definitely worth trying the chestnut cake here) before a climb up through the forest of Aitone to reach the col. It is possible to do only part of the route if you want to get out on the bike but don't want to tackle the full climb. The return is the same way back to Porto down the Gorge de Spelunca. This route will cover some of the most dramatic scenery you are ever likely to see.
Whichever option you chose we return to the hotel in Porto for the night.
The full route up to Col de Verghio it is a round trip of 66km, with an ascent of 1464m.
Today we ride a route considered by many cyclists as the most beautiful coastal road in Europe. Throughout the day we are presented with stunning scenery, starting with vistas over the coast towards the Gulf of Girolata. We then work our way up the Col de la Croix (269m) and the Col de Palmarella (408m). Our efforts are rewarded with views extending out towards the Gulf of Galeria. The road then hugs the coast as it stretches on towards Calvi. Today is the longest day on the road but it will also be the most spectacular and will leave memories of a lifetime. The ride finishes at our hotel in Calvi where we spend the next two nights.
Ride Approx. 79kms. Ascent +1150m, descent -1150m.
This morning we head out on the bike to discover the region known as the Balagne. Out of Calvi we take the peaceful 'Route des Artisans', through the pretty villages of the area, known for production of olives, wines, figs and citrus fruits. So, not only will we have more spectacular scenery to ride through but we will be able to get your hands on some tasty treats as well. Some of the villages in the Balagne are nearly a thousand years old and the government has sought to preserve the crafts of the region by encouraging young people to settle in this area and learn the trades, hence it now being known as the Artisans' Route. We can visit the craft shops en route and possibly bring something home as a momento of the trip. We return to Calvi for the evening to stroll the ramparts of the 15th Century citadel and then absorb the atmosphere of the marina with its many bars and restaurants - perhaps enjoy a drink and look back at the hills that we have been exploring for the last week and hopefully think back on some wonderful memories banked.
Ride Approx. 55km. Ascent +762m, descent-762m.
No more cycling as we transfer by train to the east coast. In the morning there may be a little time to enjoy the atmosphere at the port of Calvi before boarding the train. We then get to experience some more of Corsica's stunning scenery. We pass through dramatic scenery as we cross from the west to the east coast. The train journey ends at Casamozza station where we are picked up and taken to our hotel with spa and pool in Lucciana. Feel free to book yourself a well-deserved massage for a relaxing end to the week.
Transfer to Bastia airport; fly to London.