As summer vacation and study abroad beckon, we’re selecting our favorite hidden treasures — mind-blowing places to visit with some new language skills. Make sure to check back for new locations!
French Language: Bonifacio, Corsica
Paris is a wonderful city — there’s no debating that — but if you want to travel like a real French citizen there’s no place more idyllic than Bonifacio. Located on the southernmost point of the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean, Bonifacio is a community of around 3,000 that boasts sugar-white beaches, mouth-watering mediterranean and French cuisine, and, most impressively, a citadel perched on the lip of a dramatic cliff face.
Does “Bonifacio” sound more Italian than French to you? Well, it was Italian (Tuscan, to be specific) for much of its history. Named after Boniface II of Tuscany, the unassailable fortress city was founded in 828, but it wasn’t until 1768 that Corsica and Bonifacio fell under French rule. Bonifacio’s dual French and Italian influences give it a unique charm, but don’t be fooled; Corsica is part of France and French-speaking today. After all, they gave France its most famous ruler, Napoleon Bonaparte.
What to see and do
Visitors to Bonifacio face the happy dilemma of dividing their time between the architectural marvel of the town and the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding nature. Here are some of the best things to do in both categories:
- La Tonnara Beach: a nice, quiet spot to sunbathe and swim in the temperate Mediterranean waters.
- The Citadel: stroll its shady streets, spanned by functioning rainwater aqueducts, visit the eerie yet beautiful marine cemetery, cross the original 16th century drawbridge, and admire the jaw-dropping views from the ramparts. The Citadel is the jewel of Bonifacio.
- Îles Lavezzi: this uninhabited clutch of islets provides a great opportunity for a private swim in tranquil, lapis-lazuli waters.
- Bastion de l’Étendard: soak up a bit of knowledge in the 13th-century town’s history museum.
- Pertusato Lighthouse: a gentle, hour-long walk from town is enough to reach this lookout, from which one can view the cliffs, Sardinia, and Îles Lavezzi. Like to exercise your phone’s panorama camera function? This is the place to use it!
- Escalier du Roi d’Aragon: legend has it this dizzying staircase, cut into the side of the cliff face, was built in one night by a besieging force!
Being an insider not a tourist
Whether you’re arranging for a boat tour of the surrounding cliffs or striking up a friendly conversation with one of Bonifacio’s many local restauranteurs or artisans, speaking French is the only way to make Bonifacio your place. Learning a new language makes your vacation a cherished experience, not just a momentary diversion.