Bonafacio Camping Pian Del Fosse and Cala Stagnolu beach

Bonafacio is one of Corsica's largest towns and it's southern most point. It has a medieval cliff-top citadel below which sits a modern marina where huge luxury yachts are moored.

We didn't visit the town last year during our first Corsican summer holiday and so it was high on our priorities this time around. We had selected three possible campsites, thinking there may be more tourists around this area. Our route down from the mountains took us past the third choice, shortly followed by the second before arriving at the first option just before 10am. Initial impressions, of the untidy and uneven car park outside reception nearly made us think twice. We parked and decided to look around the site before committing.

Once past the reception building the campsite was nice. Spacious pitches on stone-walled terraces enjoyed shade from huge and old trees. A large number of pitches had no vehicular access because of the terrace and contained tented campers. Many of the vacant pitches had reserve notices although we noted several where the arrival date for the booking was after our planned three-night stay would finish.

We entered reception and through the small amount of English the receptionist knew and understanding the gist where she continued to speak French we were booked in. She said she'd take us to see some pitches so we could choose one. Just as she'd locked the door to the reception building someone came along and was told, I think, 'I'll only be a minute.'

We were shown the pitch immediately behind reception where, behind a fence, I could hear people playing table tennis. This wouldn't do. Then we were shown a pitch a little way away and I got the impression, maybe because someone was waiting at reception, these were the only two spots we were going to be offered. We accepted the second.

Tony reversed onto the pitch through a narrow space between the tier above and a tree. There was plenty of room once inside the pitch and we were soon satisfied the van was on level ground.

We set out on foot for the nearest beach, described as being 1.5 kilometres away. The walk was along the road all the way, though we'd learn on the way back that a dusty track through scrub land can help avoid most of this.

We arrived at a narrow but long stretch of beach with few people. To the left-most end there appeared to be a restaurant and busy section of beach with parasols. We went right, continuing along the road for five more minutes to a small sandy peninsula. There were a handful of people at one side and we were alone in choosing the apex of the peninsula on which to sit for the afternoon. 

It was windy and therefore we didn't feel uncomfortable with the heat which was nice after four slightly cooler days up in the Corsican mountains. Kite surfers were taking full advantage of the wind. Tony spotted a dolphin jump out in the bay. We'd both see a little tortoise cross the dusty track a little later as we walked back to camp. He stopped at the side of the path, retreating into his shell until we'd given up peering at him and continued on our way.

A sign outside the campsite restaurant advertised an evening concert by 'Mampy'. This filled us with dread since campsites with entertainment are the last places we'd book into and our pitch would hear every note of whatever musical travesty was to unfold.

As the group tested its equipment in the early evening it had played some quite relaxing tunes on a trumpet. It might not be so bad after all.

Their set was nothing like the warm up and comprised upbeat tunes with novelty lyrics in English. Whether the French and Italian guests understood what would have rhymed with shook her to complete the crude end of one verse of their set, I don't know. While we weren't wild about having to endure it, it could have been worse and it finished at 11pm.

The next morning we used our bikes for the first time this holiday and cycled 20 minutes into Bonafacio. Entering the town at the port we followed a cobbled staircase up towards the citadel. One of the first sights was a building precariously balanced on an overhanging cliff - quite a spectacular scene I was keen to visit, Tony less so. It would turn out that we'd end up standing up on this precipice without actually realising it.

We paid 2.50€ each to walk down L’Escalier du Roi d’Aragon - 187 ancient steps carved into the cliff face. I'd read that it was one of the must-see sights and to try to get there early before it got too busy. It was quite an experience and the return climb up the steep staircase was exhausting. The other advice, to wear trainers, would be well heeded.

Having mooched around the rest of the town's cobbled streets and looked in many of its gift shops we descended back to the harbour, peering jealously into yachts with choices of day bed and jacuzzis on their spacious decks.

We were tempted by pizzas from a bakery and then ice creams in a supermarket, taking both to the shade of trees to scoff down. Hopefully we burned off those calories as we cycled away in search of beaches to the east.

We had to give up on finding Capu Testagro beach after Google Maps guided us to a dead end. Instead we continued along the coast to Cara Lunga where a few people occupied a small beach and snack bar. We locked our bikes and headed across the rocks to where satellite maps showed further sandy coves. We crossed three sandy coves before settling for the afternoon on a fourth.

In the evening we were pleased there was no on-site entertainment, though a pitch with a reserve sign for the band still had us worried they'd be making a return to the stage at some point.

For our last day in Bonafacio we cycled for an hour to the beach at Cala Stagnolu. Half way into the ride it thundered and then poured with rain. It didn't last fortunately and we soon dried out in the heat of the sun on a not-too-busy beach with an easy-to-swim-in bay.

Returning to camp for the third and final night there was no notice advertising entertainment and so it seemed we were lucky only to have to endure it for one of the three nights. A little later as we were cooking dinner the band returned from their day at the beach (or wherever they'd been) and proceeded to play Molky, the game of Finnish skittles we also carry around with us. I grumbled to Tony about how we'd not played Molky yet despite having now completed two weeks of our six-week trip. Our wooden skittles were duly unpacked as we played the best of three games on the vacant pitch below ours. We'd already had a couple of glasses of beer which unfortunately makes me worse at playing while somehow improving Tony's game. I won the first game and Tony the following two.

We were up at 7am to prepare ourselves for an early departure. As it was we could have had 45 minutes longer in bed since reception didn't open until 8.30am.

We stocked up on beer and wine, plus a few groceries, towards the end of the 90-minute drive to our next campsite. It was a medium sized Carrefour that tried to pack a much larger shop's stock into not enough space. It was a frustrating shop and I was pleased to get driving again. With the sat nav saying 31 minutes it was next to no time before we pulled up at another campsite reception.


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