Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town.
Today, we’re headed to the sunny island of Corsica, to the town of Sartene where sea and mountains meet in a nature-lover’s paradise. In an excerpt from my France guidebook, lovely Laurence Scattolin, a nature enthusiast and food-lover, is our local guide to the best this town has to offer:
I’m originally from Toulouse, but a couple years ago I put my career (as director of a recreation center for children) on hold in order to come and study in Corsica because I love nature and wanted to incorporate that love with my work with child-ren (creating learning paths, gardens, and education around the environment).
I was supposed to go back to my job on the mainland, but due to a “fortuitous” accident, I broke my wrist, ended up at a clinic in nearby Propriano, and ended up applying for a job there. And so I stayed here in Corsica, working as a medical secretary in a radiology center in Propriano. Perhaps one day I’ll return to Toulouse, but for now I’m just way too happy here.
In my free time, I take long walks with my dog, Soli (an adorable black lab mix), on the beach, through the mountains, and along the riverbanks. I also love decorating my apartment, having coffee in the main square, meeting up with friends, and dining/drinking out.
What to do in Sartène (the Basics)
This region is home to some truly stunning beaches—Roccapina, Tizzano, Campomoro, Portigliolo, Capu Lauroso, Porto Pollo, and Cupabia—so plan to spend some time strolling, swimming, or just laying out with a good book.
Other great options for your to-do list include Fior di Lezza (an equestrian farm that leads rides along a beautiful wild beach), the Vallée de l’Ortolo (home of the famed Vitalba essential oils), the Plateau du Coscione (a beautiful wild area perfect for hiking), the Aiguilles de Bavella (needle-like mountains jutting into the sky), the Bains de Caldane thermal baths, and the Barrage de l’Ospedale (a dam on a beautiful lake).
It’s also really nice to just stroll around Sartène and have a drink in the main square. And every Thursday in July and August the marchés nocturnes (night markets) feature late shop closing times (midnight) and live music. These events are always lively and full of people.
Where to Stay
Sartène, Porto Vecchio, and the small surrounding villages of Levie, Sainte-Lucie-de-Tallano, and l’Ospedale are all great.
Where to Walk
In addition to the natural areas I mention above (all of which are wonderful for hikers), the natural pools of the Purcaraccia à Bavella canyon are very beautiful. Plus, it’s a great place for canyoning.
What to Eat & Drink
First, you absolutely must try the local Brocciu cheese from the Sartène Saturday market, as well as the seasonal charcuterie in the winter or early summer (but not in mid-summer, when it’s not fresh).
You should also try the mirto (liquor made with myrtle), sauté de veau aux olives (veal sautéed with olives), confiture de cédrat (citron jam), clémentines, sanglier (wild boar), and chatîgne (chestnuts).
Where to Eat & Drink (Favorite Restaurants & Bars)
Brasserie Piazza Porta (13 Place Porta), Café Au Bien Assis (5 Place Porta), and l’Idéal (8 Place Libération) are all really nice bars.
And my favorite restaurants are Le Jardin de l’Echauguette (Place de la Vardiola; phone: +33 04 95 77 12 86), Brasserie Piazza Porta (mentioned above), Chez Jean (27 Rue Borgo; phone: + 33 06 12 77 75 70), the restaurant at Bains des Calda-nes in Sainte-Lucie-de-Tallano (phone: +33 04 95 77 00 34), A Madunina (on Carrefour Auberge Stipiti; phone: +33 04 95 77 18 68), and Le Caramama (on Place Maio). I also enjoy the No Stress Café (on Avenue Napoleon III) and Le Corsaire bistro (58 Avenue Napoleon) in Propriano.
Best Places to Take a Photo
You can get great shots from the beaches, the main square, Bonifacio (with its impressive cliffs), Porto Vecchio, and Rocca-pina.
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