Corsica (9 – 17 Sept. 2023) - Alpine-Cols


Corsica (9 – 17 Sept. 2023)

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  • Dates: 9-17 Sept. 2023

Is this cycling trip for you?

YES: if you want to cycle in the beautiful island of Corsica

YES:   if you want to ride on mountainous routes.

YES:   if you want to make friends and have fun with other like-minded people.

YES:   if you want to stay in authentic, comfortable 3* hotels, with outstanding food.

NO:   if you are a beginner cyclist or you do not like cycling up hills.

NO  if you prefer low cost accommodation and cheap & cheerful food.

Date Programme Climbs Distance & Elevation
Sat 09/09 Arrival day (Bastia) - -
Sun Bastia to Corte Teghime, Bigornu, Ominanda (Arbitro) 96km / 2,100m or 117km / 2,670m
Mon Corte to Corte Santo Pietro di Venaco, Focicchia, Erbajolo (Morello) 89km / 1,700m or 116km / 2,260m
Tue Corte to Porto Ominanda, Verghju (Poggio) 84km / 1,440m or 101km / 1,840m
Wed Porto to Porto Sevi, Paomia, Piana 89km / 2,270m or 118km / 2,820m
Thu Porto to L’Ile Rousse Palmaralla, Salvi 114km / 1,490m or 128km / 1,580m
Fri L’Ile Rousse to Saint Florent San Colombanu, Croce, Veccu (Battaglia) 77km / 1,320m or 102km / 1,650m
Sat Saint Florent to Bastia Santa Lucia, San Martino (Canari, Pozzo) 102km / 1,570m or 115km / 2,170m
Sun Departure day (Bastia) - -

Arrival day: Saturday September 9

Arrive in Bastia. Set-up bikes and go for a test ride.


Stage 1: Bastia to Corte (96km / 2,100m or 117km / 2,670m)

We gather in the port city of Bastia, and begin our first ride by rounding the old port and the citadel, a photographer’s delight in the early-morning light. We then climb steeply through the outskirts of the town to the Bocca di Teghime (536m), where the Discovery and Challenge routes diverge.

Whichever route you take, you will enjoy stunning views across the NW of the island as we climb higher and higher to the Bocca di Bigornu (885m). On the way we cross a geological divide where the grey-green multi-layered schists of the NE give way to the granite that composes most of the island. We climb through thick scrub (the famous Corsican maquis), to chestnut forest and finally above the treeline.

The descent is on a typically narrow road, through several of the tiny mountain villages for which the island is famous.

Our destination is Corte, the historic capital and cultural heart of the island. Our hotel is in the centre, close to the citadel and a wide choice of cafés, bars and restaurants.


Stage 2: Corte to Corte (89km / 1,700m or 116km / 2,260m)

Corte is a great place to stay so we will spend a second night here, and ride the mountainous area to the SW of the town.

The first climb takes us through Poggio-di-Venaco, where the legendary count Ugo Colonna built his palace in the 10th century. You are more likely to hear Corsican spoken here than French.

The Challenge route heads further south to climb the col de Morello (814m), while the Discovery route takes a more direct route. We will all come together in time for the first feed stop.

The next tiny village we ride through is called Altiani. Perched on a mountain side, the village is surrounded by terraced, walled gardens full of fig trees, pink oleander and orange trumpet vine. There’s a tiny café under the plane trees.

Our balcony road affords us splendid views across the valley to the south and west. We pass through the impressive village of Tralonca and then begin our final descent to Corte.


Stage 3: Corte to Porto (84km / 1,440m or 101km / 1,840m)

After the short and fairly easy climb to the Bocca d’Ominanda (638m), we descend, cross the river Golo and begin the long climb to the Bocca di Verghju , the highest col in Corsica (1,477m).

The first part of the climb is up the Gorges de Scala di Santa Regina. The scenery is outstanding. The road was cut by hand into the red granite and twists and turns as it follows the river Golo. The gradient averages around 4% and is never more than 5%.

The Gorges lead us to the Niolu, a remote, long-time inaccessible region that was always a centre of resistance to would-be invaders. The road flattens out here.

The second part of the climb is on a lovely road, winding up through an old pine forest with impressive trees, many of them at least 25m high. The descent is long and sinuous, first through the pine forest and then the amazing granite formations of the Gorges de la Spelunca.


Stage 4: Porto to Porto (89km / 2,270m or 118km / 2,820m)

It’s very hard to pick a highlight, but this stage might just be the one. We begin with the long climb to the col de Sevi (1,102m), first through the red granite of the Gorges de la Spelunca and then the centuries-old chestnut plantations, which date from the times of Genoese rule over the island.

The descent is fast and easy, bringing us to a delightful narrow road through the maquis, lined with wild flowers and heavy with scent, up, over and down to Cargèse.

From here we follow the 2013 Tour de France Stage 3 route over the col de San Martino (433m) and on to the world-famous Calenche di Piana. This is a photographer’s dream of tortured red granite, contrasting starkly with the blue sky, deep blue sea and green vegetation. It is particularly stunning in the evening as the sunset bathes the orange-red rocks in warm light.

The final descent brings us back to Porto for a second night.


Stage 5: Porto to L’Ile Rousse (114km / 1,490m or 128km / 1,580m)

Stage 5 is the longest of the week: a series of relatively short climbs up and down and in and out around the coast, with more breath-taking views of the pink granite coastline.

The highest point on the coast road is the Bocca di Palmarella, at only 405m, but the climbing soon adds up over the kilometres as the road rises and falls, always in sight of the sea.

Soon after Calvi we turn inland and climb through Montemaggiore, another of Corsica’s many hilltop villages, famous for being the site of the final licentious act of Don Juan before he gave himself over to good works.

We cross the Bocca di Salvi (509m) soon after the village, then begin our descent to the charming port of L’Ile Rousse, where we will spend the night.

There’s a shady central square with games of boules, but more importantly several outlets for excellent home-made ice-cream!


Stage 6: L’Ile Rousse to Saint Florent (77km / 1,320m or 102km / 1,650m)

There are lovely views back across the port as we climb to Monticello. This is an easy warm-up before the main effort of the day, which is all the way to the Bocca di Battaglia (1,101m) for those who accept the challenge!

This is a tough climb, especially the last 5km (which are at 9%-10%) and adds 25km to the Discovery route. The alternative is to do the first third of the climb and then follow a balcony road before going directly to the feed station on the Bocca di San Colombanu (692m).

We then enjoy a delightful descent before turning off to a tiny road, making a short climb to the Bocca a Croce (506m) and then a long false-flat descent through Novella.

The last part of the ride includes the climb to the Bocca di Vezzu, from where we cross the désert d’Agriate. Not a real desert. the term  refers to the rural depopulation of this once fertile area, where olives, figs, almonds, lemons and most of the island’s wheat used to grow.


Stage 7: Saint Florent to Bastia (102km / 1,570m or 115km / 2,170m)

Our final stage takes us up the Cap Corse, yet another feast for the eyes on this amazing island. For most of the ride we follow the coast road. The road goes up and down but is never steep or challenging.

We pass through the picturesque village of Nonza, with an inviting café and an old watch tower. We keep riding for 45km along the coat before cutting inland to climb to the Bocca di Santa Lucia (381m), the crossing point between the two sides of the Cap Corse. There is a sign on the col to Seneca’s Tower, said to be the place where the Roman Stoic philosopher spent most of his time in exile in Corsica, between 41 and 49 AD.

As we cross to the east the Italian island of Capraia is clearly visible, with Elba further to the south, where Napoleon endured the first of his two island exiles in 1814.

The final climb of the trip is to the viewpoint in San Martino, high above the port of Bastia. One last descent and it’s all over!


Departure day: Sunday Sept. 17



Accommodation throughout the trip will be in the best available 3* hotels, with one 2* hotel. Meals will be in a different restaurant each night, chosen for the quality and authenticity of the food.

Apologies for the delay since our return, but I just wanted to pass on to you a huge thank you for our recent Alpine week cycling – we both think of it as one of our best holidays/trips we’ve done for many years! A tremendously well organised and enjoyable ride, which I would gladly recommend to anyone. I just wish I’d had the sense to take a few additional days recovery on the French Riviera instead of flying straight home and turning to work!
(Jonathan, UK)

Thank you so much for a fantastic week. I truly enjoyed myself every single day. Despite the fact that I was overly defensive descending, I feel as though I learned a lot and gained confidence by the end of the week. Although I have been riding for years, I never had any type of instruction or guidance previously. On my first ride back today, I could feel a difference in descending and ascending. The week did wonders for me. I loved cycling prior to the trip, but love it even more now. You all did a first rate job organizing and planning for all of us. (David, USA)

Thanks for a fantastic trip.  It was exactly the right level of challenge I was looking for, gave me a few climbs that were missing from my palmares and felt very rewarding to have completed.  I would say it absolutely met my expectations and given my experience with cycle tours, that was a good thing. I think there were a few things that actually differentiated you from other tours:

1) The option of a post-ride massage was a great help in keeping the legs fresh for the following day and Franck was certainly very proficient in his craft.  I’m an experienced multi-day rider and found this very beneficial.

2) Having Franck take some fantastic pictures really added to positive memories of the trip and helped capture what makes riding through the mountains so special. (David, UK)
An awesome experience. Here are some of the things I liked:

Great routes: Some great routes with lots of cols I haven’t ridden before. Roselend, Iseran and  Izoard were among my favourites. Also Galibier (which I had done before). I think the balance between the standard routes and the challenge to be about right (I did the standard). In general I think the standard routes were hard but doable – even in these very hot conditions.

Great company: It was a great group of people (both guests and staff) to travel with. This include being able to link up with Stephane before the trip

Becoming a better descender: I certainly felt like I became a more comfortable and safe descender during this trip. In part trough the instruction from Russ, but also from descending (slowly) with other people that are better descenders than me and lots of practice during the trip.

Franck: Being everywhere taking care of peoples bodies and bikes (Lars, Denmark)



From Sat 9 Sept. to Sun 17 Sept.

  • Twin-share:                        €3,350
  • Single supplement:              €375

5% reduction for returning clients; 10% reduction for a second trip in the same year. Ask for the code.


  • Accommodation, in the best available 3* hotels (one 2*)
  • Meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner, including drinks with the meals)
  • On-the-bike guiding, and coaching if desired
  • On-the-road support vehicle with free energy drinks and snacks. If there are seven persons or more, there will be two vehicles.
  • Mechanical assistance
  • Photographs taken during the week (digital copies)


  • Travel to/from Bastia
  • Airport transfers
  • Bicycle hire
  • Minibar or drinks at the hotel bar
  • Coffee or snacks during café stops
  • Massage (optional extra)