Corsica is a road trip paradise. But with high mountains on such a small territory, lots of roads are sinuous. Below is my guide to help you rent a car in Corsica and get ready to be driving in Corsica with video and photos. Don't worry, it is not as difficult as some people write!
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Driving in Corsica - Video
Corsica is a great destination to go on a road trip! Let's start with a short video that shows you what it looks like to be driving in Corsica: straight roads, sinuous roads, the few very narrow roads as well as cities and the biggest distraction of all while driving: the scenery 🙂
How difficult is driving in Corsica ? Short answer
- RIGHT SIDE - Driving is on the right side of the road applying French driving rules
- NOT TOO DIFFICULT - With a minimum of research to avoid the difficult roads, driving in Corsica is really not that difficult
- TAKE YOUR TIME - It sure is not a country where you will be driving at high speed, but who would like to with such beautiful landscapes!
- WINDING ROADS - Corsica has very few straight line roads. It was so rare that I photographed them! Most roads are sinuous, you keep turning on one side and then the other to get around the mountains
- NARROW ROADS - Only a few specific roads and few kilometers on high traffic roads are very very narrow - avoid the craziest ones and take your time for the others. It will be ok.
- HOLES - And a few side roads to reach specific locations have big holes in the pavement. You just have to drive slowly and it is not a problem
- DRIVING IN SUMMER - Considering the Summer crowds, it does get harder during July and August, especially when crossing path with big coaches
More details later in the article.
How to rent a car in Corsica
Below is my guide to help you rent your car in Corsica.
Where to rent a car in Corsica
You can rent a car
- upon arrival at the airports
- and at ferry wharfs
- or from all major town centers.
Most major international brands are available in Corsica. However it is an island so not all are present.
And those are small airports with limited staff. So at each plane arrival you will have to queue a little to get your car.
In any case, if traveling during Summer or school holidays, always book your car early!
Car rental Corsica - Which Companies?
I don't have a specific recommandation for a rental company in Corsica. There are no famous local ones which great records.
I used Sixt from the Ajaccio airport and all went smoothly.
You can compare prices on rentalcars.com
Renting a car Corsica - Which Type of Car?
Here are a few recommandations regarding your car selection
- If mountains driving scares you, make sure you hire a smaller car to feel more comfortable crossing other vehicules
- Choose a car with a good motor: you keep turning and going up and down, so a car that can stay stable without you changing gear all the time is really more enjoyable
- Note that in France, most vehicles are manual. If you want automatic you have to specify it and pay extra
- Most points of interest in Corsica are reachable by paved roads. Few isolated beaches are accessible only by dirt path. You could rent a 4WD but know that rental companies' insurances do not cover offroad driving.
Corsica car rental tips
- Insurance - no specific insurance to consider. This is pretty standard.
- Cleaning - Most company gives you a big warning that they may charge you with a cleaning if you bring a dirty car. Read the official conditions and they should say that 'normal' cleaning is included. So a little bit of sand should not be a problem.
- Petrol - Bring back your car with the agreed level of fuel in the tank to avoid paying extra
- Return - In most case, returning car is not an issue. However in Summer, a few employees of the tourism industry tend to be less charming. Make sure you check all the details of your return ticket and that you agree with them before signing: Agree on the status of the petrol level, agree on the cleaning status (show the rental conditions if you unluckily have a disagreement with one of them)
- Photos - Like everywhere you rent a car, it is advised to take photos of scratches upon car pick up and return.
Driving rules in Corsica France
General Rules for driving in Corsica
- Driving is on the right side of the road
- French rules apply
- Minimum driving age is 18, but some rental company may ask for drivers to be older
- European need their own country's license, others will need their International Driving Permit
- Seatbelts are mandatory for all
- Alcohol limit is 0.05%
- Speed limits are well indicate in red circle. Most of the time you really don't need them because you can't really drive fast on those sinuous roads.
- Most villages have a 30km/h limit and many (way too many) speed bumps
Corsica Road signs
Road signs are quite clear and using the latin alphabet.
A specificity of Corsica is that name of locations will be written first in French and then in the local language Corsican.
See in the picture below Ajaccio and then Ajacciu.
Also you will see a lot of signs where the French name is hidden. Some Corsican have very strong feelings towards becoming independant and promote the use of their local language.
Don't worry the names are pretty close and you will be able to find your way 🙂
Specificity about driving in France and in Europe
- In France, if a crossroads has not sign or indication, you give way to the person coming from your right
- Traffic that is on the roundabout has priority
- The use of horn is authorized only in case of immediate danger (although French people tend to forget this rule)
- A warning triangle, a reflective jacket and breathalyser certified by the French authorities are required inside each vehicle
- Third party insurance is mandatory
How to facilitate driving in Corsica
I strongly recommend the use of a GPS so that you can focus on the roads and on the scenery.
Plus, with the roads that are not so wide, it is not always easy to turn around. With the GPS you should miss less turns!
You can find the GPS coordinates of all the best places to see in Corsica in my eBooks:
7 Maps, 130 locations, 220+ photos
to facilitate planning
+ GPS coord.+ Tips to make the most of your time
5 Maps, 85+ locations, 150+ photos
to facilitate planning
+ GPS coord.+ Tips to make the most of your time
Road Conditions in Corsica - Is driving in Corsica Difficult?
Ok. Now we are arriving at the big question everyone is wondering.
How difficult is it to drive in Corsica?
You can read a lot of stories online of people who got scared.
The fact is that Corsica is full of mountains. So, yes, you have mountain roads. But all the millions of people who had no problem driving around Corsica don't write on the Internet that all went well...
General types of roads in Corsica
Actually there are only specific roads that are really difficult. Most roads are really ok. It is just that there is only one lane in each direction and they are very very sinuous. You keep turning and turning. But it reveals splendid scenery at each turn sometimes with the sea, sometimes with mountains. So it is actually quite enjoyable.
This is far less boring than straight line.
It slows you down and you really appreciate the land. My dad was ecstatic driving there. He thinks it is the best kind of driving.
But sometimes you have a huge surprise when you see a straight line! LOL
Some side road conditions
For a few locations such as at to get to Cauria or some isolated beaches, the road is paved but in really bad shape.
So for not more than 5km, you might have to drive slowly to avoid the holes.
But that is not really difficult, just longer.
And if you really have to go inside one hole, because there are too many, always try to go sideway not frontal.
The few narrow roads or sections that scare people
Now let's talk about the few roads that scare people.
They are mostly cut through the cliff or in canyons.
In that case, they get really narrow with the emptiness on one side but you still have to cross path with incoming traffic.
There are 2 roads to reach beautiful touristic must-see places that have such sections:
- Between Piana and Porto when driving in the Calanques de Piana - this is cut into the rocks. But there are many passing places. So if people where not stupid and did not park there, you don't have to maneuver too much to cross a coach or truck
- The West Coast of of Cap Corse - it has a few section that are quite narrow. It is actually large enough to cross a large bus, but barely. So it is quite impressive
Your solution if you are scared: Take those roads early morning when the other tourists are sleeping late!
But there is one road I absolutely do not recommend driving if you are even a little scared: The Restonica Valley.
That is a difficult drive and a popular destination. It gets really narrow very often and the road does not always have a railing.
It is a beautiful drive, but not worth the scare.
Again if you go early you should not cross other cars when going up. But you will anyway when driving back down (this is a dead-end road)
Be careful where you stop!
I know that the landscapes are magnificent and you want to take pictures, but be reasonable where you stop so as not to block the traffic.
Going completely off touristic trails
Only once, did we decide to cut through the mountains to reach our next destination and I must admit that it was a bad idea. We ended up on a mountain road that was only one lane. Fortunately it was only for 3 km and not a touristy road so we had no issues. But I don't recommend trying to find shortcuts.
Driving in Towns and Villages
Driving in town and villages has no special difficulties.
We were surprised by the amount of speed-bumps though. They really want you to respect the limit at 30km/h in villages.
The oldest part of villages have anarrow streets that are not accessible by cars, so you park outside and explore on foot.
Here is driving in Corte:
And through a village in Balagne:
With sometimes some animals enjoying their home:
Dangers on the Corsican roads
The main danger on the roads in Corsica are animals. You may turn and find yourself with a cow, a pig, a goat or a donkey in the middle.
I am not kidding, they are everywhere, even on larger roads where you could not expect them.
So remain vigilants!
Carparks in Corsica
In Summer time parking can really become a pain.
Small villages in the mountains really don't have the space to have large carparks and beaches are taken over so the carparks fill up quickly.
The solution: not traveling to Corsica in Summer... but that may not be an option...
Another solution to enjoy more Corsica in Summer is to take advantage of the morning. Most people head out around 11am or in the afternoon. If you do your exploration early morning and rest at home in the afternoon, you should enjoy it a lot more.
At some beaches, when the free carpark is full, you can find some paid ones. They often belong to restaurants installed on the beach. You either have to pay a fee or eat/drink at the restaurant. I think it is fair enough since it is their land.
Motorbikes in Corsica
With those beautiful sinuous roads, Corsica is also paradise for motorbikes.
They often travel in group.
Slow down and squeeze to the right to let them overtake you so that you can keep enjoying your own road trip.
Want to see more of CORSICA?
Are your ready to drive in Corsica?
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