Louisiana friends onboard sharing the experience of Corsica.

170608 13 Small boats Nice Harbour

Small boats Nice Harbour 

170608 9 First lunch in Nice Gateau

Barely a week passed before our next guests joined us onboard Katherine in Nice, Barry and Kim Mounce, friends from Louisiana USA.  With bags unpacked we walked from the harbour into the old town of Nice to give them their first feel of France. Strolling through the old town, taking in the view of the harbour from the overlooking citadel, smelling the fragrance of the flowers at the Flower Market and eating their first Gallette washed down with a bottle of Normandy Cider was the best introduction we could hope to achieve in one afternoon.  

170610 14 Villafranche anchorage getting busy

The following day we motored Katherine the short distance back to the next bay that has become one of our favourite anchorages in Provence, Villefranche-Sur-Mer. We sat on anchor here for three nights, with the number of boats in harbour having increased exponentially in just two weeks. At one stage Barry counted over 200 boats on anchor of all shapes, sizes, some complete with blue lights, compared to just a handful when we were last anchored here with the Maxwell family. Paddle board skills were put to the test, bravery called upon to hit the brisk water for a swim, sunsets appreciated and local sites like the citadel with exhibitions of artists, shops and restaurants were checked out in the village.

170610 7 Monaco Harbour

Monaco Harbour 

170610 4 Monaco Changing of the guard170610 12 Monaco Grand Casino170612 6 Sailing Lillian at the helm

Saturday 10th June we caught the train to Monaco. What a different city it was without the madness, hype and security of Formula One. We walked the track that now was a road with scaffolding being disassembled, happened upon the Changing of the Guard at the Princes Palace of Monaco, checked out the casino architecturally, our pockets were not deep enough and our interest not curious enough to venture within, then enjoyed a very special lunch at restaurant Sensais, which we found tucked up in a street past the marina. To date it served the best Tuna Ceviche we have tasted, the calamari was tender beyond belief and the fish simply exquisite. The bill for the service, quality of food and wine was not what we expected so we walked away totally satisfied and not horrified. A great way to end our day in Monaco. 

170616 6 Sunset Wilson on duty St Florent


Now when you start to get locals dropping in for a visit then perhaps you are becoming a “local". Thats how it felt when we got the call from Lillian and Rudy who happened to be passing with Lillian's Nephew Johnathon and finance Angie. What a pleasure it was to have them come onboard and go for a Sunday sail. The added bonus being it was a good sea test for Kim’s sea sickness patch  - Scope - which after cruising France to Italy and driving Italian hillside roads we can definitely attest works.  No travel sickness when patch is applied! As for returning to a busy anchorage after a day sail and trying to claim your old spot we can also attest a 80 foot Oyster must have had our AIS on alert s we picked up as they literally had their anchor set where we had departed from earlier in the day - all well and good we just set another anchor mark on our chart for this bay and waited till a few of the day cruisers cleared out around us so we could relax with enough space overnight.

Now since cruising in the Mediterranean we have come across a problem not previously experienced before. We have an anchor ball and we use it every time, basically a ball attached to our anchor that indicates where our anchor is on the seabed so that other boats do not inadvertently anchor on top of our anchor, it also helps retrieve it should it get snagged etc. Logical one would think and relatively common in other parts of the world though seemingly unheard of in the Med. Since the arrival of Barry and Kim its now known as “Wilson” it is sign written with our boat name, “ Katherine", and anchor symbols around it, and more recently with a cross through. This however does not seem to stop people wanting to secure their tender to him, or pick him up as if he is a basketball lost. Very entertaining to watch the curiosity that Wilson has created.

170614 11 Calvi Harbour by night Panorama

Calvi Harbour Corsica at Night 

170613 5 Villafranche to Calvi Corsica New flag (1)

From Villefranche-Sur-Mer we farewelled mainland France and headed to Corsica some 100nm miles east. Still France but Corsicans are said to be proud of being Corsican so we ensured we had onboard a Corsican courtesy flag - just another one for the collection. We had been advised not to go to Calvi but for us it made a logical base and we are so happy we chose to do so. Everyone we met in Calvi from the marina staff to the restaurant operators were helpful and inviting, Calvi proved to be a pretty harbour with some good restaurants scattered amongst the tourist traps and a great base to travel from when on a restricted timetable trying to explore a little of northern Corsica.

170614 9 Driving from Clos back to Cali via Belgodere Every town has a tower

Hillside towns Northern Corsica 

170614 3 Driving from Calvi to winery Clos Culombu Driving Obstacle

Barry was designated driver on our first land tour of Northern Corsica a task that should not have been a challenge given Corsicans drive on the same side as Americans. But add to the mix a gear stick (manual drive), narrow winding roads and the odd mad driver then the challenge bar is definitely lifted. 

Our first afternoon we drove  along the coastline to Ile Rouse stopping along the way at our first Corsican winery Clos Culombu. Heading inland we meandered through hillside towns such as Belgodere before turning back to Calvi passing many family crypts along the roadside. Each town perched on the side of the hills seemed to be in competition with the next for the tallest clock tower or church steeple. 

170615 8 Drive day to Corte

The following day, Thursday 15th June, we headed inland to the town of Corte, the fourth largest commune in Corsica and once its capital from 1755 - 1769. Today thirty percent of its population are university students. Perched on top of the hill overlooking the old town is the citadel with views out over the Tavignano valley. The town had a very Rustic feel and we were beginning to wonder why the guide book had recommended coming to Corte for its views. Thankfully the local Tourism Office set us straight and sent us on a 45 minute drive down the road for “The View”.

170615 19 Vallee de la Restonica  Waterfall

Vallee de la Restonica Corsica

170615 23 Vallee de la Restonica

Now this little drive of some 16km along the D623 to Vallee de la Restonica had Barry really testing out his gear changing skills and clutch management. Hairpin bends, steep inclines, reversing required where the road was not wide enough for two cars to pass, oh and the added joy of hoping the wheels were not too close to the perilous drop off as we hung onto our space as another car edged passed. A fun and adventurous drive it was and the view so worth it. The guide book got it right. 

170616 2 Sunset St Florent

St Florent viewed from our anchorage

170617 2  St Florent

Back onboard Katherine and the hire car happily returned by Barry we headed out of harbour on Friday 16th June and onto an anchorage in the bay of St Florent. Another picturesque anchorage with the backdrop of a 15th century Genoise citadel overlooking the township in the setting sun. We spent two nights on anchor in this harbour enjoying the setting and peacefulness. Certainly no feeling of being crowded out here.

But now it was time to farewell Corsica. 

Italy was calling. Kim was ready to search out some good Italian Red Wine and Barry had a calling for Pasta. 

 (Click for more photos) 

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain