After several days at different beaches, we were looking for something a bit different to do and found the Pointe de la Parata – an area about 35 minutes’ drive from Ajaccio where the mainland of western Corsica ends and turns in to the ‘Isles Sanguinaires’ – a string of small, remote islands with rocky coastlines, lighthouses and watchtowers…
The Pointe de la Parata is a beautiful natural area with marked trails up steep hillsides and along cliffs with some amazing viewpoints over the Sanguinaire Islands and across the Gulf of Ajaccio.
There’s a large, low-cost car park, which we arrived at and unloaded our cool bags full of lunch supplies and water – and decided to follow a path up a steep hill close to the car park in order to get a viewpoint of the rest of the area and decide where best to head next.
After 5-minutes walking up what would normally be a pretty tame and easy slope, we realised we’d totally underestimated the effects of the scorching mid-July Corsican sun and were instantly pouring with sweat and wondering if mid-day was really the best time to be making this trek (answer: no, it wasn’t!)
We got half way up and realised that this hill isn’t actually the main attraction of the area – it’s the hill beyond it, with the stone watch-tower on top, which is the one everyone else here was heading for.
We found what appeared to be a narrow trail through the bushes down the other side of the hill, which seemed to lead to inviting-looking pebble beaches with the familiar clear, blue, cool water, which was becoming very appealing as we burned up on the exposed hillside in the boiling sun.
Unfortunately the trail through the bushes was much steeper and narrower than we thought – and was lined with very spiky gorse bushes that became a complete nightmare to negotiate.
We ended up picking our way slowly and painfully down, legs and arms scratched to pieces by the thorns, until we joined a wider trail that took us eventually down to the sea.
Here we realised that all the other visitors were simply walking easily along a wide, flat path that takes you from the car park to the watchtower viewpoint within about 10-minutes.
We’d spent an hour climbing and negotiating.a painful, almost impossible trail, legs bleeding, faces pouring with sweat, dehydrated, dragging our bags full of lunch, to reach a place that everyone else had wandered to within 10-minutes of leaving their cars!
Still, it was a bit of an adventure and we got some brilliant photos of the islands and surroundings.
What’s more, we decided to stop at one of the pebble beaches for a well-earned break, some lunch and a cool down in the sea, only for Andy to discover, too late, that the rocks in the sea were scattered with sea urchins, one of which painfully spiked his toe! It was a pretty minor cut luckily, but one which our nine-year-old, Emma, delightedly offered: “do you need me to wee on it?!”
After re-fuelling on baguettes and water, we headed along to the next trail, which runs up a steep hillside to the watchtower viewpoint. You have three options – a flat trail to a viewpoint, a short, steep climb up to the tower or a circular route around the hillside.
The views from either are all absolutely amazing on all sides. There’s views back to the city of Ajaccio, super-yachts moored alongside the islands to one side and beautiful rugged coastline to the other.
We walked up to the very top and spent a while enjoying the amazing views. It’s definitely a place well worth visiting if you’re looking for something a bit different from beaches and the main town of Ajaccio.
We had a hire car so drove there easily, but there’s also a bus from Ajaccio centre that takes you right here for just one Euro – one of the few very cheaply-priced things in Corsica!
By the time we’d finished exploring the Parata area and viewpoints it was about 4pm and we decided to head 15-minutes further up the coast to the Capo di Feno beach, which we’d heard was a different type of beach from the others around Ajaccio and well worth visiting.
The plan was to head there, have a rest and recover from the strenuous activities of the day, get some dinner in the beach-side restaurant and hang around to watch the sunset, which we already knew was spectacular on this west-facing side of the island.
The Plage de Capo di Feno is indeed a beautiful beach – much wilder and more natural than some of Ajaccio’s other beaches, surrounded by countryside on all sides of the bay, with a long, wide stretch of fine white sand leading in to waters that were a bit rougher and wavier than some of the other beaches we’d tried.
Unfortunately our plans here didn’t quite work out, as the children had started moaning and complaining on the journey that they just wanted to go back to the villa and didn’t want to stay here for dinner and the sunset.
We had just put them through a tough afternoon of climbing around in 35-degree heat, so decided not to force them in to it this time – and let them return to the villa and cool off in the pool. We decided to return here for the sunset a couple of days later – read the details in our separate post about that here.
Despite the difficult stint of hiking and the unfortunate sea urchin incident, we still found it a great way to spend the afternoon and get a different view of the region, which is stunning from wherever you look at it!
You can find Pointe de la Parata on Google Maps here: https://goo.gl/maps/AGxNudkCXR52
If you don’t have a car, you can catch a bus from Ajaccio centre – details are here: http://www.corsicabus.org/sansVoiture.html