Ajaccio Things to Do
Ajaccio, France’s name comes from the Roman Adjacium (place of rest) and was known as a winter resting place for the shepherds who came down from the mountains during the winter to stock up on supplies and sell their wares. Of course today it is best known as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, but Ajaccio does have other things that merit a visit.
Ajaccio is not that big and is easily enjoyed by walking around. It is completely flat along the harbor, and from there you can often see the cruise ships that come from Toulon, Nice or Sardinia. Traveling up to the town, there are some gentle slopes and views of the sea. The main shopping thoroughfare is the Rue du Cardinal Fesch and the art museum that was named after him. The Musée Fesch has a wonderful collection of European paintings, with regard to Italian paintings some label it as the most important French Museum after the famous Louvre. The Museum’s most prestigious collections are: Italian Primitives, Roman Baroque Painting and Napolitan Baroque Painting and is very worthy of a visit.
Next to the museum is the Imperial Chapel, built around 1860 that holds the tombs not only of Fesch but also of Napoleon’s parents. Just opposite is the Ruccellu Church, which is tiny but has many nice decorations.
The birth house of Napoleon Bonaparte is located on the narrow street of Rue St. Charles and is now a museum. Napoleon was born in 1769 and he lived in Ajaccio until the age of seven. Corsica is proud to be known as the birth place of Napoleon, and his name is everywhere: streets , bars, and hotels all carry the name Napoleon or Bonaparte. All over town, there are places and statues in his memory, one of note is the memorial and grotto of Napoleon at Place Austerlitz at the top of Cours General Leclerc Ajaccio Corsica. Napoleon is supposed to have played there a little boy.
Place Foch, which was once the site of the town’s medieval gate is now home to the town hall and a “Salon Napoleon”. You can visit in the morning and afternoon Monday through Friday, but it is closed on the weekends. At the place Foch is the famous statue of Napoleon as first consul standing over the 4-Lion fountain. After crossing place Foch you’re in old Ajaccio with its tiny streets, the cathedral, and Napoleon’s birth home. Please note that the citadel here is still occupied by the army and is not open to visit.
Ajaccio has some lovely beaches that you should absolutely take a day trip or two to see. All along the coast nearby you can enjoy seaside hills, lovely views of the sea, water activities, or just take the day to lounge on the beach.
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