An ancient emotion between history and nature
Ajaccio is a relaxed and good-looking place for a visit to Corsica, with an exceptionally mild climate, and a wealth of smart cafés, restaurants and shops. The core of the old town of Ajaccio – a cluster of ancient streets spreading north and south of place Foch, which opens out to the seafront by the port and the marina – holds the most interest.
Nearby, to the west, place de Gaulle forms the modern centre and is the source of the main thoroughfare, cours Napoléon, which extends parallel to the sea almost 2 km to the northeast. West of place de Gaulle stretches the modern part of town fronted by the beach, overlooked at its eastern end by the citadelle. Once the site of the town’s medieval gate, place Foch lies at the heart of old Ajaccio.
A delightfully shady square sloping down to the sea, it gets its local name – place des Palmiers – from the row of palms bordering the central strip. Dominating the top end, a fountain of four marble lions provides a mount for the inevitable statue of Napoleon. The south side of place Foch, standing on the former dividing line between the poor district around the port and the bourgeoisie’s territory, gives access to rue Bonaparte, the main route through the latter quarter.
Built on the promontory rising to the citadelle, the secluded streets in this part of town – with their dusty buildings and hole-in-the-wall restaurants lit by flashes of sea or sky at the end of the alleys – retain more of a sense of the old Ajaccio than anywhere else.