The city of Ajaccio is situated on the west coast of Corsica, an island located in the Mediterranean Sea, and almost 400 km from Marseille. It is a perfect destination for outdoor activities like canyoning and scuba diving. The city is popular for being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French General. His abode now serves as a museum that is open to the public. Record has it that Ajaccio is the first city to be liberated during the WW2.
The beguiling creeks and white sand beaches in the city and its environs are a true paradise. Ariadne and Trottel beaches, along the Gulf of Ajaccio, can be found along the way to the widely popular Sanguinaire islands, a true Corsican paradise, and a natural reserve. On the Gulf’s other side, visitors can relax on Marina Viva beach. And from there, they can have an incredible view over the Sanguinaire islands.
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Here Are Some Things to Do That Make Ajaccio Worth Visiting
Take a Trip Into the Life of Napoleon at Maison Bonaparte
France’s first emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, is famous as the great military leader who rose to fame in the course of the Revolution. In Ajaccio and throughout the world, the Bonaparte family is widely known. Now a museum, Maison Bonaparte, is the Bonaparte ancestral home.
While the family suffered rummage in 1793, leading to significant loss of its original embellishments and décor, visitors will find memorabilia and interesting displays. So profoundly honored is the Bonaparte lineage that the museum has a glass medallion that bears a lock of Napoleon’s hair. Visit this museum in the afternoon so you can have an audio guide with explanations about the collections there.
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Appreciate Art at Salon Napoléonien
This place goes further in narrating the story of the illustrious Napoleon family. Salons Napoleoniens is the city’s town hall turned gallery showcasing memorabilia of the family and statues and paintings. Part of this collection was donated by the family. There are other various gifts and donations- so much that the excess is part of Musée Fesch’s collection.
Visitors will no doubt enjoy sculptures, paintings, and engravings that feature the family, different works, Napoleonic material, 2 imposing paints by Pils and Vernet, 118 medals, two bronzes by Barre, and part of the Bacciochi collection.
Take a Break at Plage de Capo di Feno
Plage de Capo di Feno is a sparsely populated beach with clear waters and is fascinating. Visitors can hire a sun-lounger and enjoy the view, or relax at one of the bars or restaurants for lunch or a drink, as you wait for the incredible sunset views from Plage de Capo di Feno. It will take around 20 minutes from Ajaccio to this beach, and it is worth it, whether you will take a hike to it or drive here.
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Revere the Ajaccio Cathedral
Also referred to as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Ajaccio, this cathedral is popular for being General Napoleon’s place of baptism, making it a historical monument. This sanctuary has seven side Chapels, each embellished by its dedication. You will notice the complex marble altar at the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary, wall paintings at the Chapel of Madonna of Pianto, and a stucco altar and different boxes depicting the Glorious, Luminous, Joyful, and Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary of the Virgin at the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary. The workmanship and craft in the different chapels are delightful to behold.
Visit Lac de Tolla
Looking forward to enjoying a day of kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boating at Lac de Tolla, an artificial lake located on a craggy area in Ajaccio. Views of the lake from Tolla town are astonishing as well. The twisting roads with high cliffs and deep gorges make a great view.
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Visit Monument Commemoratif de Napoleon 1er
A must-see in Ajaccio is this monument of the French General. Napoleon is celebrated here where he was born, as you might observe when you arrive in Ajaccio. The Monument commemoratif de Napoleon ler eternalizes the statesman on an Austerlitz’s large square.
Perching on a solid pyramid, this monument stands with narrow stairs on every side leading up to it. You might observe that the statue has more information written in it like the engraved marble slabs that bear Napoleon’s rule, life, and information on conquests. If you continue to the top of the many stairs to this monument, you will observe the petit wooded park that stories say have been Napoleon’s play area.
Swim at Plage d’Argent
Soak yourself in the warm, clear waters of Plage d’Argent and immerse your toes in the pristine sandy beach. This resplendent beach is fairly crowded, but expect several people, particularly on weekends. Also, the water is often calm and shallow, creating room for you to walk far out. It is possible to drive for around an hour to the beach or go through a speedboat and reach there within 20 minutes. The speedboats are affordable to rent.
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Take a Walk to Tête de Mort
You will have to confirm if the grotesque boulder in the city looks like the devil’s head, as the local legend will tell. Tête de Mort literally means “death’s head”. A stroll to Tête de Mort reveals mastic, wild olive, and Barbary fig, as well as unique sweet smells of the maquis and the aroma of myrtle flowers.
Tête de Mort has a dive site where divers have the chance to the varying species of marine life. When you get there, there are scenic views of Ajaccio and bay. These make an early morning or late evening strolls an absolute delight.
See the Mediterranean at Place Foch
Pace Foch is a historic market square that is full of activities throughout the day, every day of the year. There is a lot that visitors can achieve in a day’s visit to this place without paying a dime. This place is a destination that allows people to see the boats and the effervescent Mediterranean Sea and watch the buildings’ white facades that encircles it.
Sample the city’s cheeses, jams, spices, snacks, refreshments, wines, and light dinners from the many food stalls found at the square. Place Foch will certainly not be complete without a Napoleon monument- the statue constitutes the center of the Four Lions Fountain.
Attend Brilliant Exhibitions at Musée Fesch
This is the city’s central museum of fine arts. It has lots of works from the Bonaparte family; however, you will be wrong to think that it is all about this place. Musée Fesch has the 1500s to 1600s Italian paintings showcase closely together, 1600s, and 17000 large canvases and paintings.
Cardinal Joseph Fesch, Napoleon’s uncle, began Musée Fesch. He wished to establish an Institute of Arts and Science, and he donated many of the flashy painting collections to the museum.
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Take a Hiking Trail at Sentier des Crête
For several trails that take visitors to the center of the maquis, the Bois des Anglais is usually the starting point. It is situated among the historical monuments, lentisk, myrtle, and fig tree. Unravel the ravishing landscape and astonishing views of the city from the Sentier des Crête and other sights like the Cupetta fountain as well as old sheepfolds. At the end of the pathway, you will reach the Route des Sanguinaires and the Vignola sola station.
Indulge in Some Regional Specialties
Regardless of the time of the year, the city market is a splendid place to explore Corsica’s traditional specialties and its crafts at over 50 stands. At the city’s market, Corsican gastronomy is revered, with locally manufactured cheeses, meats, and local pastries- fritters, frappes, ambrucciata, as well as honey, liqueurs, spices, and jams.
Take a Tour to the Blood Islands
The Blood Islands, also known as Iles Sanguinaires, are a-must see on your Ajaccio trip. The group of four protected and classified islands are indeed natural wonders and spots of flourishing beauty with a range of wildlife. Savor the perfect views on the way to the peak of the Genoese tower through a small hiking pathway. To see the island closely, take the ferry and make the trip a little more magical, choose the sunset cruise. According to legends, the islands were given the name because of the beautiful colors at the particular time of the day.
Is Ajaccio Worth Visiting? – Summary
Without a doubt, the capital city of Ajaccio is one of the jewels of Corsica. Its rich historical past, which is heavily influenced by Napoleon, is worthy of being explored in multiple ways. Allow yourself to be charmed by this stunning Mediterranean city and discover all of the astounding things to do in the Imperial City with my guide.