Corte, Corsica ©
For a change of pace on a beach holiday, pack some hiking boots along with your swimsuit and head for the dramatic Corsican hinterland. Corte lies marooned in the centre of Corsica, surrounded by dramatic granite mountains. This independent and proud town has long epitomised Corsican nationalism - for a short time in the 18th century it was the capital of Pascal Paoli's short-lived Corsican state. Now a university town, it remains dominated by the Haute Ville (upper town) and its forbidding citadel, site of the Musée de la Corse, the island's premier museum. While on holiday in Corte, it is wonderful to spend a morning wandering around the narrow cobbled streets or soaking up the atmosphere in one of the many bars and cafés that line the main street. Corte is an excellent base for exploring the island's wonderful mountain scenery and there are great hikes and walking trails in the area. A few miles to the southwest, near Bergeries de Grotelle, walkers will find a number of glacial lakes, and around Valée de la Restonica there are a series of stunning natural gorges and basins with refreshing swimming spots. Buses and trains connect Corte with Ajaccio, Bastia and other holiday towns on the island.