France // Corsica //

The Calanches


The UNESCO-protected site of the Calanches, 5km southwest of Porto, takes its name from calanca, the Corsican word for creek or inlet, but the outstanding characteristics here are the vivid orange and pink rock masses and pinnacles which crumble into the dark blue sea. Liable to unusual patterns of erosion, these tormented rock formations and porphyry needles, some of which soar 300m above the waves, have long been associated with different animals and figures, of which the most famous is the Tête de Chien (Dog’s Head) at the north end of the stretch of cliffs. Other figures and creatures conjured up include a Moor’s head, a monocled bishop, a bear and a tortoise.

One way to see the fantastic cliffs of the Calanches is by boat from Porto. Alternatively, you could drive along the corniche road that weaves through the granite archways on its way to Piana. Eight kilometres along the road from Porto, the Roches Bleues café is a convenient landmark for walkers.

Picturesque Piana occupies a prime location overlooking the Calanches, but for some reason does not suffer the deluge of tourists that Porto endures. Retaining a sleepy feel, the village comprises a cluster of pink houses ranged around an eighteenth-century church and square, from the edge of which the panoramic views over the Golfe de Porto are sublime.

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