Corsica, which the French call the Island of Beauty, has taken pole position in National Geographic Traveler magazine’s list of 20 “must-see” destinations for 2015.
“Napoleon's Soulful Island Home” joined another French destination, Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, in the list that included the city of Medellín in Colombia (2), Hyderabad in India (10) and Oklahoma City (6) See full rankings below.
The magazine raved about Corsica’s “olive groves and quiet villages (that) dot the slopes and isolated valleys of the interior” and the “undeniable pleasures of the coast or for the thrill of visiting historic La Maison Bonaparte, in the city of Ajaccio.”
It said that its 300,000 inhabitants “retain a fierce pride in their own unique culture, including the proverb-rich Corsican tongue” and were valiantly resisting the “homogenizing effects” of the three million tourists who come every year to the sun-drenched Mediterranean island.
“Two hundred years after Napoleon Bonaparte suffered his final military defeat, Corsica, his birthplace, stubbornly resists its own cultural Waterloo,” it wrote.
Three beaches in Corsica were included in the travel website Tripadvisor’s top ten favourite beaches in France.
National Geographic’s “insider tip” advised travellers to visit local bakeries to buy some fiadone, a Corsican cheesecake of lemon zest and ricotta-like brocciu cheese made with sheep’s or goat’s milk.
Corsica was ruled for centuries by the Italians but was conquered by France in 1769, just in time for the birth of Napoleon the same year.
National Geographic put the island Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel – “a feat of human genius” – in 17th place in its top destinations list.
“For about a thousand years, travellers have gasped when the Abbey of Mont St. Michel has loomed into view, rising from a bay fed by tides that are among the highest and most treacherous in Europe,” it wrote.
The abbey, perched on a rocky islet amid sandbanks between Normandy and Brittany, is a Gothic-style Benedictine monastery dedicated to the archangel St Michael.
It is one of the top tourist attractions in France.
National Geographic Traveler rankings:
1 – Corsica (France)
2 – Medellin (Colombia)
3- Koyasan (Japan)
4 – Maramures (Romania)
5 – Haida Gwaii (Canada)
6 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (US)
7 – Tunis (Tunisia)
8 – Choquequirao (Peru)
9 – Serk (Channel Islands)
10 – Hyderabad (India)
11 – Port Antonio (Jamaica)
12 – Taiwan
13 – Zermatt (Switzerland)
14 – The Presidio (San Francisco)
15 – Mergui Archipelago (Birma)
16 – Sea Islands (US, South Carolina)
17 – Mont-Saint-Michel (France)
18 – Esteros del Ibera (Argentina)
19 – National Mall (US, Washington D.C.)
20 – Mornington Peninsula (Australia)
by Rory Mulholland