Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Roccapina & the Lion

Roccapina is renowned as one of the best beaches in the south of Corsica; soft, fine sand and clear shallow turquoise waters sheltered by rocks at either end – sheer bliss! It is also one of the beaches that I have never visited before, as I didn’t know where the access track was, so when Florence suggested we go together, I jumped at the chance!

We arrived shortly after 9am and bagged a prime parking spot under the trees. The beach at that time was almost deserted and lived up to all my expectations. We wandered along and took photos of a pretty red sailing boat moored in the bay, and collected a few shells before settling ourselves on the sand. The sand here is perfect for sand castles and a little further along, someone had shown off their artistic talents by building not only a fairytale castle, but also an Egyptian scene complete with pyramids and a sphinx!

The sea is so shallow that even kids can wade out for miles before getting out of their depth, and there were virtually no waves unless a boat passed by. Guillaume and Rolande le Requin (the inflatable shark) had a lovely time in the water whilst Florence and I indulged in a spot of sunbathing.

Little by little, the beach started to fill up and we soon found ourselves with a number of ‘neighbours’. Even during July and August it’s possible to find the odd deserted stretch of beach if you’re prepared to look, and I was reminded why I tend to avoid the more well known places during the peak season. That said, it was fascinating to do a spot of people watching, and I nearly had to call the fashion police on a number of occasions. Can anyone tell me why French men are obsessed with speedos? There was also a woman who’d brought a cushion but for her boobs, not her head! Best of all were the kids canoeing in such shallow water, I wondered if they’d put their legs through the bottom and were actually walking along Fred-Flintstone style…

The sun was incredibly hot and the sea was as warm as a bath so after a picnic lunch of yummy pizza and sandwiches, we decided to head back to the car. What we hadn’t banked on was the appalling parking ability of most visitors, and it was a miracle we managed to get out!

Sitting above the beach is the Lion de Roccapina – a wind sculpted rock that has taken on the shape of a lion, with the ruined structure on top making it look like the lion is wearing a crown. The best view is from the road between Sartene and Bonifacio/Figari airport, but this photo was taken from below.

Legend has it that a bandit called Barrittonu had his hideout in the caves surrounding the lion and was there on the 17th April 1887 when the luxury steamer ‘Tasmania’ sank. The ship was carrying a cargo of jewels from the Rajahs of India, destined for Queen Victoria’s jubilee. Most of them were recovered except a small box of diamonds. It is thought that Barrittonu found and buried it shortly before his arrest and deportation, never to return. Anyone for a treasure hunt??

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