Tucked away on the south-west coast of Corsica is the ancient fishing port of Propriano. Although it has a history dating back to the Ancient Greeks most of the buildings on view today are from the early 19th century. Its attractive marina is a popular port of call for luxury yachts sailing around the Mediterranean and a growing number of small cruise ships. Passengers arriving at the port can enjoy a visit to some spectacular local beaches or take excursions into the traditional Corsican countryside.
Port of Propriano
Smaller cruise ships can dock right in the harbour within a few metres of the seafront promenade where all the shops and cafés are found. Some larger vessels may have to anchor offshore then tender passengers into the centre of Propriano.
Getting to Propriano
Passengers and crew heading for Propriano to meet up with cruise ships or private yachts can fly into Aéroport d’Ajaccio-Napoléon-Bonaparte which lies 65km to the north or Figari–Sud Corse Airport which lies 55km to the south-east. Unfortunately, there are only a limited number of international flights arriving at these destinations. A better option for many visitors is to fly to Marseille Provence Airport on the mainland then transfer to the ferry terminal in Marseille. The 12-hour crossing with La Méridionale Ferries to Propriano operates about three times per week. For shorter and more frequent crossings passengers could travel to the Corsica Ferries terminal in Toulon from Marseille Airport then take a ferry to Ajaccio or Porto-Vecchio.
Getting Around in Propriano
Propriano is so tiny that there’s no need for any transport as all local attractions and some lovely nearby beaches are easily accessible on foot. There’s a small taxi rank near the port on Cours Napoleon for trips out of town and visitors can book boat trips and fishing expeditions from local operators in the harbour.
Main Tourist Attractions
On arrival in the heart of this small port town cruise ship passengers should take a wander along the seaside promenade which overlooks the luxury yachts and fishing boats docked in the harbour. This walkway is filled with attractive bars and cafés together with a number of stylish boutiques and touristy shops. Up some steps and just inland from the coast road is the beautiful Eglise Notre Dame de Misericorde (7 Rue du Dr Félix Mariani) which dominates the Old Town of Propriano. Visitors are treated to great views of the whole town and its harbour from the square outside the church.
Selecting a restaurant for lunch when there are so many to choose from can be tricky in Propriano. One which is consistently regarded as being a cut above the rest is Terra Cotta (31 Avenue Napoléon III) which serves first-class French cuisine at its seafront location. Some passengers prefer to simply head back to their ship for a buffet lunch as cruise ships are usually docked right in the harbour.
Other than strolling around the warren of tiny streets which make up this part of town there’s little in the way of major attractions so many visitors like to spend a few hours at one of the local beaches during their day in port. The closest one to the harbour is Plage du Lido which is only 500m west of the Tourist Information Office (21 Avenue Napoléon III) in the town centre. Just a little further east is Plage De Propriano which is also easily walkable from the cruise ship dock. If you’d like to travel a little further afield (and can find a taxi) it’s well worth visiting Plage de Campomoro. This beach lies 17km south-west of Propriano in the popular holiday resort of Belvédère-Campomoro and is considered to be one of the most beautiful on the island.
Shore Excursions Beyond Propriano
Visitors who want to explore a little more of south-western Corsica can arrange a taxi tour or hire a car from the port when official shore excursions aren’t available. The nearest local attraction other than the region’s beaches is the lovely village of Olmeto which lies just 10km to the north. With great views over Propriano and the Mediterranean beyond this is a great place to appreciate something of traditional Corsican life. A further 14km into the hills following a slow, winding road is the archaeological site of Filitosa where artefacts dating back to 3300 BC have been discovered. The highlight of any excursion from Propriano is a visit to the medieval town of Sartène which is widely regarded as the most typical of all of Corsica’s traditional settlements. It stands on a hillside some 14km south-east of the port and is home to a number of interesting attractions including the Genoese Pont de Spina-Cavallu which dates back to the 13th century and an important Museum of Prehistoric Corsica. Some 14km north-east of Sartène are the thermal baths of Bains de Caldane which have been in use since the 4th century AD. A relaxing dip in their sulphurous waters is an ideal way to relax before returning to the Port of Propriano for your onward voyage.
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