The Raid Corsica
Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 13:17
The Raid Corsica is a fabulous cycling challenge first set up by the Parisian Audax club, who also happened to think up the madness that is the Paris - Brest - Paris! Well, they know what it takes to make a fantastic cycling route, and the Raid Corsica or 'Tour de Corse', is a wonderful circuit of the island that is also known as the "Isle of Beauty". Ok, so another name for the island happens to translate as "Mountain in the Sea", but then what kind of Raid would be flat!
As usual, Marmot Tours is following the official Raid Corsica route, so you need to have your Carnet stamped in a variety of different places along the way, and on successful completion of the Raid, there is a certificate and medal to reward you for your endeavours. In 2013 the Tour de France are taking on the Island for the first time in its 100 year history - this is your opportunity to cycle the cols before the proffesionals.
If you haven't yet been to Corsica then you are definitely missing out - it is the most mountainous and geographically diverse of the Mediterranean islands, its coastline lapped by inviting azure seas. Its terrain is varied to say the least - ranging from flatland marshes in the East, the 'Desert des Agriates' in the North West, high granite peaks on every skyline and a huge National Park covering over a third of the island. Culturally you would be forgiven for thinking that it is part of Italy, but in fact it was only ruled by the Italians during the 11th - 13th Century. The architecture and cuisine however still has a distinctly Italian feel. Officially a 'departement' of France since 1796, the Corsicans speak French though many would prefer to speak Corsican and you will notice, as you cycle the island, much evidence of the yearning of the Coriscans to be independent (which in fact they were for a whole 14 years between 1755 - 1768!).
The Raid Corsica 2013 Route
This Raid is a very different 'beast' to the Raids Pyrenean and Alpine, and our feedback from our 2012 trips suggest that it is not a 'starter' Raid, in spite of the definite 'holiday' feel to the island!
There is definitely less 'big col' climbing involved, and more distance, with an average daily route of 166kms. Having said 'less climbing', there are still some fabulous and significant cols, such as the Vergio at 1477m and Sorba, Verde and Bavella all at over 1200m. Though the climbs are not as high as the mainland mountain ranges, the point to note is that often the climb starts from sea level! Overall the average daily ascent comes in at 2683m. So, all in all, this isn't an easy option! See our Raid Corsica itinerary for more details on the daily rides, but this is a taster of the entire route.
Starting in the charming coastal port of Bastia with its 'bastille' fortress dominating the town, the route heads north around the 40km mountainous ridge of the 'Cap de Corse' with truly spectacular views. Continuing along the north coast you ride into Balagne or the 'garden of Corsica' and its fertile hills. The first night's stay is in the picturesque seaside town of Calvi.
Day 2 of riding takes you down the West coast to Porto, before heading inland to central Corsica with its rural villages, granite gorges, and forested pastoral lands. We stop for the night in Calacuccia, before heading on through historic Corte, Corsica's capital during its independence, and south into the oldest region of Corsica, the Grand Valinco.
Thanks to a hairpin in the route, we stay in the region for 2 nights, heading once more to the coast, and the current capital of Ajaccio with its pleasant streets with a stunning backdrop of mountains. We continue south before stopping for the night in Propriano. Our penultimate day of riding takes us around the Southern tip of the island with its numerous inlets and gulfs, and then inland briefly before heading back to the coast at Solenzara where we stop for the night. Our last day is a beautiful route back to our starting point in Bastia, completing our 1000km circuit!
If you would like to have a little more information on whether this is the right trip for you, then take a look at our Essential Information section.
Why choose Marmot Tours for your Raid Corsica?
There are several companies offering a Raid Corsica package so we thought we would point out the benefits of doing the trip with us. Marmot Tours has been running road cycling holidays since its conception in 2003. James has been in the leisure industry for even longer and so you can be sure that we will not overlook any aspect of your trip, from the riding, to the travel arrangements, to the accommodation.
- We are a small company (run by James and Cathy Thompson) focusing on customer service and the personal touch
- We are available to answer any queries you may have or discuss honestly with you, whether this is the trip for you. Contact us by phone or email with any questions
- We follow the exact route of the original Raid Corsica, - you use the Paris Audax Club Carnet, and get their medal and certificate if you complete the Raid.
- We cater for various dietary requirements and supplement your breakfasts with wholesome cereals and fruit to give you that kick start in the morning (continental breakfasts aren't always the best for cyclists!)
- We use small friendly and family run hotels that know our needs (particularly regarding cyclists), and who make every effort to make your trip comfortable and easy
- Where possible (if the vans have been back to headquarters!), we provide you with home made snacks en route - our banana and walnut bread (the walnuts are from our garden!) and chocolate brownies have a very good reputation!
- We limit our group sizes to 20 so you get the benefits of being with enough other cyclists to find others who cycle at your pace and to have a good laugh en route, but also so that you are not just 'one' in a sea of faces who never get to know anyone else in the group, or your leaders.
- We always have a minimum of 2 support vehicles driven by experienced Marmot Tours staff. The front van offers support to the speedier cyclists in the group, plus makes sure that everyone's bags are at the hotel before they arrive. The back van stays on the road with the second half of the group ensuring that they have support for as long as it takes for them to complete the days ride. This means that we can have a group with mixed cycling experience and different paces, and still offer everyone the same, high level of support. It also means that in the case of any emergencies or mechanicals, a van is never far away.
- We provide comprehensive route notes with colour maps, altitude profiles, detailed directions, information of places to stop for food and the odd bit of local / historical information, plus GPS notes (gpx and tcx files) to download for Garmin users.
- We use experienced tour leaders who speak French, are cylists themselves (of varying levels of seriousness!), who know what it is you are going through on the climbs, and when you are most likely to need support, snacks, water, or a wave from Margo (our marmot mascot!)
- One leader on your trip will be a bike mechanic to give you a hand with any problems en route (though it is helpful if you are independent as regards punctures).
- We know that annual leave is like gold dust, and that you may have family commitments that can make taking a trip like the Raid difficult. We therefore make our Raid trip as short as possible, so that you only use up 5 days of your holiday entitlement.
The Raid Corsica was a new itinerary in May 2012 - don't miss out on seeing how everyone got along this year by checking out the Reviews.
Raid Corsica Dates and Prices
We only run the Raid Corsica in May, which happens to be the best time to visit as the sun is shining, spring flowers are blooming, and there are very few tourists around.
Sun 5 May - Sun 12 May 2013
Sun 12 May - Sun 19 May 2013
Sun 19 May - Sun 26 May 2013
Sun 26 May - Sun 1 June 2013
Sun 4 - Sun 11 May 2014
Sun 11 - Sun 18 May 2014
Sun 18 - Sun 25 May 2014
Cost: £1100 (twin share basis), starting and ending at Bastia Airport. Single room supplement: £210 [To be arranged on booking. This supplement only applies if you are booking alone and would like to guarantee your own room for the holiday. If you are happy to share with someone of the same gender then there is no need to pay this supplement.]
Flights are not included but can be picked up cheaply if booked in advance. Allow about £150 for lunches and daytime drinks that are not included (outlined below). There are no other local payments or hidden costs.
Please note that we offer a 5% discount if you book more than 6 months before the departure date. We also offer group and loyalty discounts.
If your currency isn't GBP £, then you may find the Caxton FX currency calculator useful.
The price includes:
6 days supported rides. Route notes and colour maps. GPS route files. Entrance to the official "Tour de Corse". Airport Transfers (at specified times and from specified airports and ports). Medical and Mechanical support from 2 vehicles, plus an extra vehicle and driver to transfer baggage from hotel to hotel. 7 nights accommodation. 6 evening meals with table wine. 7 substantial breakfasts. Cycling snacks and fruit during the ride. Certificate and badge on successful completion of the challenge.
NB. There will also be included a freebie Marmot Tours pack: Raid Challenge musette bag, Marmot Tours water bottle and Raid Corsica velopac (waterproof transparent mobile/money holder) for each client. Raid Corsica socks are available to purchase either before or on the trip (contact us to add the price to your invoice) - see our Merchandise section for sock piccies.