Thursday, December 28, 2006


Hiring a car in Corsica

I wonder who will offer the best carhire deal in Corsica this year? For several years recently, we had found that Carrentals and Holiday Autos (links on were the pick of the bunch... but last year we found the best deal of all on

There are a number of pitfalls when hiring a car in our favourite island, and it's worth listing them here. First of all, avoid booking the hire car as you arrive at the airport or ferry terminal. If you do that, the car big hire cos at the airports (Europcar, Hertz, Sixt, Budget or National) will charge you their book rates, and as always, this will be more expensive than booking it in advance online (see links above). The other pitfall to avoid is encountered when booking your car in France or Italy, then taking it by ferry to Corsica: in some companies' small print, travel to Corsica is specifically prohibited, and you may well invalidate your insurance by doing so. Not such a good idea...

So the best scheme is to book your car online before you go, using one of the operators listed in the first paragraph. They work by booking your vehicle through a large company like Hertz or Europcar and you will collect your car from one of them. How do they provide the cars so cheaply? I'm not sure - maybe someone will let me know!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Christmas in Corsica

One of the questions that summer visitors ask about Corsica is “What’s it like there in the winter?” and in particular “What happens at Christmas?” So I asked a few Corsicans to tell me about the things that make Christmas different from the festive season in other countries.

If you are lucky enough to be in Corsica over Christmas, you may hear some Canti Natali - sacred Christmas music - performed in the polyphonic tradition in the churches of the interior. If you would like to hear some extracts of Corsican carols, you can do so at I am indebted to Nino of Terra Corsa (another great Corsican music site) for telling us about this page.

So what do Corsican people eat at Christmas? For a traditional Christmas Day or Christmas Eve meal, you may be served a young goat rather than turkey. Blackbird pate and beignets de brocciu could also find their way onto your plate.

The older, darker Christmas traditions are even more interesting. The people of L’Ile Rousse in the Balagne (and other villages) hold a bonfire in the square and let it burn till midnight mass begins. A local tells us “In the old days people brought sausages, figatelli and polenta and shared a meal around the bonfire”.

And there’s a Christmas prayer - l’occhio - to ward off the evil eye: the old people used to teach their youngsters this prayer, but only on Christmas Eve. It was considered very bad luck to repeat the prayer or teach it to someone at any other time. So we won’t be repeating it here…

Happy Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


BA cuts back its flights to Bastia

I'm disappointed to note that British Airways appears to have reduced the number of direct flights offered through GB Airways between London Gatwick and Bastia.

After running a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday flight during peak months last year, we appear to be back to Sunday only flights. While I'm delighted that GB Airways continue to offer the Sunday service, I'm disappointed that it's no longer possible to go there direct at other times in the week.

It used to be possible to fantasise about grabbing a long weekend in Calvi - going out on Thursday and coming back on Sunday. Maybe I should have done it while it was possible, 'cos it ain't going to be possible next year.

I have tried to contact both British Airways and GB Airways about the change of policy but have not yet had a reply. So it's left to me to surmise why. My guess is that the arrival of new Thomsonfly flights have upped the ante and the BA gang have made a tactical withdrawal. As a result, we Brits are now back to being the people who go to Corsica on Sunday - even though most holiday accommodations have their changeover days on Saturdays.

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