Sunday, July 03, 2011


The dreaded high-Vs...

Being in the northwest corner of Corsica as we are, we have a choice of routes when we decide to go to the south of the island. We can go by the beautiful but extremely twisty west coast road, the straight, fast and flat east coast road, or we can go through the middle.

Going through the middle means going via Venaco, Vivario and Vizzavona – the dreaded high Vs!

That’s what we decided to do on our recent trip to Propriano. From Calvi, we went northwest to L’Ile Rousse and Ponte Leccia, turning right at Ponte Leccia towards Corte. If your engine survives so far – so good.

From Corte onwards the fun really starts. The road rises steeply to Venaco and after many twists and turns, you reach Vivario. You wouldn’t think there’d be a higher pass on the island, but you reach one shortly afterwards! Sandwiched between the Monte d’Oro (2,389m high) and Punta di l’Oriente (2,112m high) is the Col de Vizzavona. We stopped briefly for lunch at the top there to see huge tree trunks being carted south to serve the needs of Corsica’s forestry industry (see picture) and myriads of tiny blue butterflies (see close-up) on the high grassland there.

From there the road drops down to Bocognano and Corsica’s equivalent of a capital City, Ajaccio. Utterly spectacular scenery all round as you pass through.

Having successfully negotiated the three Vs and a busy Ajaccio by-pass, I think we got lulled into a false sense of security. On the way out of Ajaccio we got as far as the Col de St Georges when our engine’s cooling system announced that it had had enough for the time being. An enforced 15-minute wait for it to cool down outside the local Gendarmerie, and turning off our air-con was enough to see us safely to our destination.

Coming back, we chickened out of high-V territory in deference to our Peugeot’s overworked radiator and reacquainted ourselves with the east coast. Nice place, Ghisonnaccia – shame about the poor service in the Salon de Thé there.

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