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Ajaccio is the capital of the French island of Corsica. The city was founded by the Romans, but they built their Adiacum a bit north of its current location. Their city was destroyed in the tenth century and only rebuilt in the fifteenth century, under the rule of the Genoese. At that time the Citadelle was built, on the quay near the harbor. Ajaccio is situated on Corsica's west coast, in a beautiful bay. Because of the curved bay, the city's harbor is facing east.
The city center is formed by the attractive Place Foch. Not far from here, in the Rue St Charles, you'll find the birthplace of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Casa Buonaparte. Nowadays it's a museum where you can not only learn more about this 'great, little man', but also about Corsica in the 18th century. Part of the reception room in the City Hall is also dedicated to the city's most famous inhabitant, the Musée Napoléonien. Napoleon was baptized in the city's relatively austere 16th century cathedral, officially called Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption d'Ajaccio.
Ajaccio's library was a gift of Napoleon's cousin, Lucien Bonaparte, who left the city over 12,000 books and documents. This library holds a fine collection of historical works, including the Encyclopédie géographique de Blaue, which consists of no less than 23 volumes.
Just north of Place Foch lies the city's main art museum, Musée Fesch. The museum holds a fine collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings, but also some primitive works.
Ajaccio is a lovely town with excellent restaurants and lots of shopping opportunities. Every morning there is a market on the Place St-Nicolas where you can discover local Corsican specialties. On Sundays there is a flea market. If you want to relax after strolling through the city, this is no problem either! South of the large Place de Charles de Gaulle Square, there is a beach, Plage St François. Or you can go to one of the spas, as Ajaccio is a center of the so-called thalassotherapy, which involves the medicinal use of sea water to suppress for example skin problems.
At night you don't have to get bored in Ajaccio as there are many cafés and bars and also some discos. During the day, the Chiba Café on the Plage St François (next to the citadel) is a must. Here you have a wonderful view over the sea.
Corsica is a beautiful island with a very varied landscape. It already starts right outside Ajaccio, where the hills are planted with orange and olive trees. Further north lies Corsica's main natural attraction: Les Calanques de Piana. The rocks along the shore consist of pink and orange stones. In combination with the sea waves, you can enjoy a wonderful play of lights and colors. You can reach this area (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) by taking the D-81, which runs just north of Ajaccio along the coast. Corsica's entire west coast consists of beautiful bays, inlets and beaches. From the car park along that road (clearly indicated), you can reach Les Calanques by following a small footpath.
The rest of Corsica is also impressive and can only really be well explored by rental car, as public transport leaves a lot to be desired. The mountainous interior is largely a protected area (Parc Naturel Régional de Corse). Remnants from ancient times can be found in the Filitosa Park. You should also not skip the historic village of Bonifacio (which can be reached by rental car from Ajaccio via the N196), with a fortress on steep limestone cliffs, seventy meters above the sea.
Finding accommodation in Ajaccio is no problem. There is a wide range of hotels, from basic to luxurious. In high season (summer months) we recommend booking your hotel well in advance, as the city gets crowded at that time. There are also campsites in the surrounding area, for example near Porticcio and Barbicaja.
Ajaccio is not a large city and so you will have no trouble finding your way around. It is best to avoid driving in the old center with its narrow streets. There are sufficient parking facilities around the center to park your rental car. There are also large parking lots near the harbor and the Quai des Torpilleurs, but – especially in summer months – these tend to be full.
Ajaccio Airport, Campo dell'Oro, is located five kilometers east of Ajaccio, on the other side of the bay. You can easily reach the airport by rental car, via the main street N194.