Located on the north-west coast of Corsica the port town of L’Île-Rousse has a long history dating back as far as 5000 BC. As early as 1000 BC it is known to have been a prosperous trading post which would later become occupied by the Romans until the 4th century AD. Following that period it remained largely uninhabited until the 18th century when Pasquale Paoli, the father of Corsican independence, established a port here which wouldn’t be controlled by the ruling Genoese. Today this sophisticated holiday resort with its stylish marina is most reminiscent of the French Riviera. Cruise ship passengers can easily enjoy their day in port wandering around the charming Old Town or visiting one of the glorious beaches lying on either side of town. Alternatively, there are a number of timeless villages lying a short distance inland where visitors can get a taste of traditional Corsican life away from its tourist centres.
Port of L’Île-Rousse
Passengers on board small cruise ships approaching the Port of L’Île-Rousse should look out for the historic Genoese watchtower which protects the entrance to the harbour. On arrival ships will anchor offshore and tender passengers into the centre of town.
Getting to L’Île-Rousse
The island’s main airport for passengers meeting cruise ships is Aéroport d’Ajaccio-Napoléon-Bonaparte which lies 140km south of L’Île-Rousse. Nearer airports include Aéroport de Calvi Sainte Catherine and Aéroport de Bastia Poretta but none of them offer a great selection of international flight arrivals. For many visitors the best option is to fly into Marseille Provence Airport on the French mainland then take a private transfer to the Corsica Ferries terminal in Toulon. There are direct daytime ferry services from Toulon to L’Île-Rousse. An alternative is to fly to Nice Côte d’Azur Airport then take a ferry direct to L’Île-Rousse or to nearby Calvi from the Corsica Ferries Terminal in Nice.
Getting Around in L’Île-Rousse
The centre of L’Île-Rousse is tiny and easily accessible on foot. Whilst La Pietra Island to the north is also walkable via a causeway there’s a Petit Train de L’Île-Rousse which runs around the town’s main sights and out to the lighthouse at La Pietra. For travelling further afield Le Train Corse scenic railway along the coast is a great way to travel south to Calvi or north to Bastia with stops at interesting villages and inaccessible beaches en route.
Main Tourist Attractions
Just inland from the coast stands the lively Old Town of Pascal Paoli which is home to a number of historic buildings together with a selection of attractive cafés and boutiques. Architectural highlights include Parish Church of the Eglise de l’Immaculée Conception (Rue du Clocher) and the former convent of Eglise de la Misericorde (Rue Louis Philippe). Highly recommended for cruise ship passengers is a visit to the 19th century Marché Couvert where visitors can rub shoulders with locals buying their fresh fruit and vegetables at one of Corsica’s great markets. Much of this produce is available on lunchtime menus at the many small restaurants scattered around the Old Town. Standing on La Pietra Island less than 1.5km north of the Old Town is the Tour Génoise which is an ancient Genoese watchtower. Nearby is the solar-powered Phare de la Pietra lighthouse. The walkway overlooking the sea known as Promenade de la Marinella leads to a number of attractive beaches which can be reached on foot. Another local attraction which lies just 4km along the coast to the east is Parc de Saleccia which is a beautiful botanical garden filled with many types of Mediterranean flora.
Shore Excursions Beyond L’Île-Rousse
Any visitor to Corsica should attempt to see something of the island’s interior where traditional old villages provide a stark contrast to the touristy resorts along the coast. A couple of nearby place worth a visit are the hilltop towns of Monticello and Santa-Reparata-di-Balagna which both lie approximately 5km from L’Île-Rousse. A little further inland is Sant’Antonino which appears on the official list of ‘most beautiful villages in France’. Getting around these villages by public transport can be tricky so arranging a private tour or hiring a car is recommended when official shore excursions aren’t available. Some 25km to the south-west lies the attractive port town of Calvi which claims to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. It can be reached by means of a narrow gauge railway which runs along the coast between the island’s capital, Ajaccio, in the south and the town of Bastia in the north. Passengers can hop-on and hop-off at their leisure allowing them to visit some lovely villages such as Algajola as well as a number of secluded beaches.
About Shuttle Direct
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