Ajaccio, Corsica: tourism & sightseeing
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Ajaccio, on the west coast of Corsica, is encircled by wood covered mountains to the rear of the town, and the port and citadelle towards the sea, on the Gulf of Ajaccio. The town is popular with tourists for much of the year around due to its consistently warm climate and its sheltered position.
The centre of Ajaccio is based around the 16th century citadel in the south of the centre and spreads west and north from here: this part of Ajaccio includes the Place Bonaparte and the renaissance cathedral, and continues up to Place Marechal Foch a little to the north, and is the part that is of most interest to visitors.
France This Way comment: because of its scenic harbour and lively historic centre Ajaccio is one of our favourite towns in Corsica and should be included as a stop on your 'Tour of Corsica'!
Start your visit at the citadel, a substantial 16th century fortified building with a large (dry) moat. You will sometimes see mules in the moat, or perhaps a goat sat nonchalantly on the defensive walls! You can not enter the citadel because it is still in use by the military, but it is situated betwen the pleasure port to the east and a beach to the west, two of the highlights in the town.
The beach (the Plage Saint-Francois) in Ajaccio centre is a pleasant sandy beach below the walls and while it can be crowded it is very convenient if you are staying in the town centre.
The harbour area is very picturesque its with cafes and boats and tall colourful houses. Walk to the end of the jetty (the Jetée de la citadelle) for a nice view across the harbour to the town.
North-west of the citadel you can explore Ajaccio old town. Centred south of Place Marechal Foch the historic centre has narrow streets lined with attractive pastel coloured houses, typical of Mediterranean towns and very picturesque.
In the old town you can also see (and visit) Napoleons birthplace, the Maison Bonaparte, an impressive orange town house. Note that it was in the cathedral here, the Cathedrale Notre Dame de la Misericorde, that Bonaparte was baptised.
You will also want to continue north from Place Marechal Foch along the Rue Cardinal Fesch: this is one of the most attractive streets in the centre and also has a wide range of shops.
A few hundred metres along this street you can see some of the most important monuments in Ajaccio: the Fesch Palace (now a museum), the Imperial Chapel and the historic Bibliotheque (take a look inside the library to see the shelves heaving with ancient books).
There are a large number of cafes, bars and restaurants around Ajaccio, and it is in these that you will find the true town - the laid-back casual approach to life that Ajaccio seems to adopt so well. Place Foch especially is a very popular place to sit under shady trees and do some people-watching.
The rest of central Ajaccio merits an explore as well, to see the grand prefecture (local government office) and the Quartier des Etrangers ('foreigners quarter'). The Ajaccio Office of Tourism is on the Boulevard du Roi Jérôme a short distance north of Place Marechal Foch.
Napoleon in Ajaccio
Above all, Ajaccio's claim to fame is as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. In the town you can visit Napoleons birthplace, now the National Bonaparte Museum and the caves where he played as a child. Statues of Napoleon abound and there are streets and places named in his honour. The most impressive monument is the one in the Jardins de Casone.
Located 200 metres north of Place Foch, the Fesch Museum has a highly regarded collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, originally collected by Napoleon's uncle and the Maison Bonaparte where he lived is perhaps the most visited attraction in Ajaccio
North of the town centre there is a walk along the hills out of Ajaccio (the Route des Cretes) that is well worth following for the views across the town and coast. It is signposted from the Bois des Anglais: park in Place d'Austerlitz.
Other highlights and places to visit nearby
- Visit the lovely botanical gardens and olive groves covering more than 10 hectares around the Bonapartes country house at Les Milelli, five kilometres north-west of Ajaccio
- The region outside the town has several highly rated beaches, including those to the west of the town around the Capo-di-Feno and the resort of Porticcio to the south. Closer to hand there are several beaches along the Route des Iles-Sanguinaires, west of the town.
- A popular boat trip that starts from Ajaccio is to visit the Isles Sanguinaires . These are an unmissable highlight of a visit even if you don't take the boat trip.
- Another site not to be missed is the prehistoric site at Filitosa, 40 kilometres south of Ajaccio.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Corsica guide.
Map of Ajaccio and places to visit
Visit near Ajaccio with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Corse-du-Sud
Address: Ajaccio, Corse-du-Sud, Corsica, 20000, France || GPS: latitude 41.926, longitude 8.7369
Plan your visit to Ajaccio, Corsica
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Iles Sanguinaires: grand site of france (12km)
- Archipel des Sanguinaires: site of natural beauty (12km)
- Golfe de Propriano: site of natural beauty (29km)
- Corse: regional natural parc (36km)
The French version of this page is at Ajaccio (Francais)