The photography guide to France Corsica
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Corsica photography guide

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Introduction

Corsica, also known as L’Ile de Beautè, is an absolute jewel in the middle of the Mediterranean. Thanks to the variety and outstanding beauty of its landscape and the diverse mix of Italian and French history, Corsica offers visiting photographers a wealth of photographic opportunities, from perfect seascapes to mountainscapes, historical villages, traditional craftsmen and fisherman at work, stunning forests and dramatic rock formations. 

Whilst change has been inevitable in today’s progressive world, the natural and cultural heritage in Corsica remains well preserved, nature relatively untouched and towns are not overly developed. It’s definitely a must-visit destination for travel photography. 

Perched between Italy and France and jutting out into the Mediterranean, Corsica seems to have one of the best positions in the world when it comes to climate allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of the Island at anytime during the year.

That said, spring, when flowers blossom nearly everywhere, is the best time to go. You will still have snow on the peaks of the mountains while temperatures in the coastline may allow you to enjoy a swim in one of the many beaches.

Autumn would be my second choice. Foliage is always a good occasion to shoot mountains and forests, probably with no other tourists around. Temperatures will still be high enough during the day. As in spring, be prepared for cooler nights. Spring and fall will also be the best seasons to have cloudy skies.

During winter, temperatures will still be moderate along the coastline. It may be more difficult to access the mountainous regions due to snow. 

Summer is peak tourist season. In July and August tourists will crowd beaches as well as the most popular mountain hike routes and gorges. Temperatures will be very high and skies may remain blue and cloudless for weeks. If summer is the only possible option, you will still enjoy your visit as Corsica is never as crowded as other Italian or French destinations. It is also a good time to visit the inner part of the island. Ancient forests and small mountain villages will always be almost tourist-free. Also at sunrise and golden or blue hour you can always find peaceful spots in lesser known and visited places. Some of these you’ll find in this guide!

Be aware that Corsica may be windy at anytime of the year.

Corsican people are generally friendly and approachable. They have strong emotions and you will definitely get a sense of how rooted they are in their culture and traditions. Even though the majority of them are happy to be French, they are all Corsican at heart; an identity that comes from island life that is separate from the continent - an island that has a history of bloody conquests by their neighbors. Not so strange then that the issue of independence from France is still a hot topic for discussion. 

English in not widely spoken except in the most popular tourist destinations. Unless you speak the Corsican dialect (which sounds like a mix of Italian dialects), be ready to speak a little French or Italian. There are no specific restrictions on photography; just respect the rules in museums and national parks. Always ask before taking pictures of people and for the most part they will likely agree. 

Most popular Corsica photo spots


Travel

Corsica is a safe place where to travel. Criminality is very low and even at night you will not have to worry too much about yourself aor your equipment, as long as you take normal precautions.

Car hire is recommended for any stay in Corsica as public transport is limited and will not get you to the best locations at the right time. Many roads leading to beautiful destinations are narrow and sometimes in poor condition. These scenic routes often cause foreigners to drive slowly both due to the beauty of the landscapes and the width of the roads, whereas locals tend to go faster, so do take care. 

France uses standard European 2-pin plugs at 220Volt.

The majority of cities and villages across the island have fast and reliable mobile network coverage. “Orange” is the most widely known and used operator in the area.The currency is Euro.

ATMs are easy to find and changing money will not be a problem.


Top Picks

Corsica is stunning from north to south, east to west, and from sea level to the top of mountains. It’s therefore difficult to choose favourite spots. If time is limited and you need to settle for the key highlights, Bonifacio with its rock formations is a great place to start. Here you can shoot both the landscape and the city itself.

On the west coast the red Calanches in Piana are unique! Go late afternoon for best light and choose a good spot to wait for the sunset. Drive from Piana to Calvi and cover one of the best scenic coastlines in the world. Spend at least a day in Corte, moving to the Restonica valley with its beautiful torrent and gorges. Hike up to the lakes of Melo and Capitello. 

At Ile Rousse enjoy both sunrise and sunset from Ile Rousse lighthouse and in between shoot street scenes in the open market in the morning or playing ‘petanques’ in the afternoon. If you have a 4x4 vehicle, don’t miss the Agriates desert.



Drones

If you want to use a drone remember there are some restrictions. Drone laws change rapidly so do your homework before you head out. At the moment, if you are not using a drone as a professional, do consider that there are no-fly zones - see map in the links section below. 

  • Red = no fly
  • Pink = max altitude 30m
  • Orange = max altitude 50m
  • Yellow = max 100m 
  • For all the other areas the maximum altitude is 150m. 

Drones up to 25 kgs may only be used within sight and during daylight. For FPV flights, a second person must be present to monitor the drone with the naked eye. In France, the completion of drone insurance is mandatory. 

People flying over are not allowed in France.

Fully automatic flights (e.g., waypoints, points of interest) are permitted within a radius of 200m of the pilot, if the maximum altitude is 50 m, you can regain control at any time, and the drone is < 2kg.



Events

Corsica has a year-round calendar of photo-worthy events, many of which are mainly related to agriculture, food, religion or music.

In summer you’ll find many music events. Listening to Corsican Chorus is worth the price of the ticket. You are usually allowed to take pictures.

Around Easter (March or April) there are religious processions in many villages. The most interesting ones are in Bonifacio and Sartene. However, if you are in the north Calvi, Corte and Bastia are also worth the visiting and shooting. 

During the first weekend of June the ‘Cavall’in Festa’ (Horses in Feast) animates the city of Corte (see links). Horses in action are always a good subject to shoot.

The most important food event is ‘Foire à la Chàtaigne’ (the Chestnut Fair) in Bocognano, which takes place in the middle of December. 



Links

https://www.visit-corsica.com/en
Many useful information to plan your trip
http://www.pnr.corsica/le-parc-de-corse/
Great site (only in French) to plan your trip in the parks of Corsica
http://www.ign.fr
Detailed maps available (only in French)
https://uk.france.fr/en/corsica
Official French Site for Tourist Information
http://www.cavallinfesta.fr
Cavall’in Festa horse festival

Curated By

Raimondo Giamberduca Curator
He was a kid when bought the first camera. Since then and for many years, he focused on the wonders of nature: flowers, animals and landscape. Growing to adulthood he coupled his passion for photography with a new one: travelling. Today he’s a Geography teacher and continue cultivating his passions as much as he can. After being selected 5 times in the TPOTY competition, he’s moving forward to transforming a passion into a profession
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