One Way to do Ajaccio

Ajaccio  is located on the west coast of the island of Corsica. It is a French town and capital of the island. Its most famous son was Napoleon Bonaparte and visitors to Ajaccio will not escape his lasting legacy.

The real joy of Ajaccio for passengers of visiting cruise ships is the close proximity of the town centre to the cruise ship berth…

 

 

Our arrival in Ajaccio on board the P&O cruise ship Ventura was the first visit that my wife and I had made to Ajaccio and, as with most of our visits we had done some research on just exactly what there was to see and do.

We planned a kind of ‘Do-it-Yourself’ visit as it certainly appeared to be a compact township. Our plan was to follow a route (marked in red) taking in the Place Foch, the Citadel, St. Francois’s beach and La Place d’Austerlitz: where probably the best of Ajaccio’s Napoleon statues is sited.

 

 

We headed for Place Foch, an attractive city square  at the center of the old town behind Hôtel de Ville which, to our delight,  is the idyllic setting for the excellent French farmers market…

 

Ajaccio’s market is busy, colorful, aromatic, and stacked with all kinds of local foodstuffs such as plum and myrtle liqueur, wild-pig sausages, ewes’ cheese, and rich honey comb.

 

Corsica is renowned for its pungent shrubbery, called maquis, which is full of herbs like rosemary, sage, mint and thyme, and berries like juniper, bilberry and eucalyptus. So it’s no wonder that the local food is so tasty and of such variety…

 

Place Foch is the hub of Ajaccio; it is about  200 metres left as you leave the cruise pier and just 10 minutes walk on a flat surface.

At the head of Place Foch is an impressive marble statue of Napoleon, atop a fountain of four lions. This is the first of the Napoleon statues the visitor is likely to encounter…

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Worth noting at this stage is that from Place Foch visitors can board ‘Le Petit Train’, Ajaccio’s equivalent of the HoHo bus tour…

 

 

 

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Another short walk from Place Foch is the Ajaccio Cathedral, officially the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Ajaccio. It was in this Cathedral that Bonaparte was baptised: indeed, on entry one can still see the marble font where it happened…

 

The Cathedral is adjacent the Place du Général-De-Gaulle.

 

 

A rather large square, with good views over the Gulf of Ajaccio, it often hosts concerts and exhibitions while, in one corner can be found the second of our Bonaparte statues…

 

 

on this occasion a bronze equestrian statue portraying him as a Roman emperor with his four brothers.

 

 

From the Place du Général-De-Gaulle we dropped down to the promenade that runs along the length of St. Francois beach…

 

 

…before cutting up left at the now quite sad looking Le Cyrnos Palace Hotel...

 

 

It has certainly  seen better days…

 

 

The  Le Cyrnos Palace Hotel stands on the Cours du Général Leclerc, the road that leads directly to  La Place d’Austerlitz

 

…at the far end of which is the third of the Bonaparte statues on our visit…

 

On our arrival at La Place d’Austerlitz there were many visiting sightseers. However, we initially settled for a coffee at one of the entrance cafes and within 30 minutes had the place to ourselves, so as to speak.

Solent Richard could not resist a little piece of fun, imitating the ‘little man’, for future use…

 

 

Retracing our steps to the promenade with the intention of looking at the Citadel, we were blessed with good timing in being able to capture the arrival of the sail cruise ship, Club Med 2

 

…before circumnavigating the Citadel…

 

 

…and heading out along the breakwater for a view of the ship and its proximity to the waterfront of Ajaccio…

 

 

For us there were just two more sites that rank amongst the ‘must do’ for the visitor to Ajaccio. Again both were in easy walking distance though one, The Musee Fesch, was in a different direction – the opposite side of the ship.

 

So we headed back in the direction of the Place Foch and along the aptly named Rue Bonaparte and left into the Rue Saint-Charles where La maison Bonaparte,   the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family is located. The house was almost continuously owned by members of the family from 1682 to 1923….

 

*****

 

Maison Bonaparte was ranked as “Monument Historique” in 1967 for both historical and aesthetic reasons. This house-museum, dating back the seventeenth century, was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and has a history as exciting as touching of the early years of Bonaparte’s life.

Admittance is €7.00 though there is a concession for seniors…

 

 

 

Our final visit in Ajaccio was to the Musée Fesch. It is  the central museum of fine arts in Ajaccio and  is located in the town’s Borgu d’Ajaccio quarter, in Palais Fesch, approximately 15-20 minutes from La Mason Bonaparte and even less if visited directly  from the ship’s berth…

 

 

As luck would have it the Palais Fesch was closed on the day of our visit…

 

 

That concludes this review of a visit to Ajaccio. Our visit was made in May when the the touristy season was just picking up. Ajaccio was busy then so I would guess it gets busier. One thing noticeable was the multitude of excursions on offer, most by boat, around the harbour side…

 

 

*****

 

 

It’s certainly hard to escape that chap Bonaparte around the town of Ajaccio…

 

You know what they say, if you can’t beat them, join them…

 

 

In all seriousness though, Ajaccio is  a really interesting port visit that should suit all varieties of cruise passengers.

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