Mare-Mare Nord

  • Mare-Mare Nord - Col de Vergio - © Flickr user Valerie Hukalo
  • Mare-Mare Nord - Cargese - © Flickr user cercamon
  • Mare-Mare Nord - Corte - © Flickr user dino_olivieri
  • Mare-Mare Nord - forest around Col de Vergio - © Flickr user Richard Brauer

Key information: Mare-Mare Nord

  • The best of Corsica - sparkling coastlines, spectacular gorges, airy peaks and deep, wild bandit country - all rolled into one 11-day coast-to-coast walk, from Cargese to Mariani. There are two Mare-Mare walks; this, the northern one, reflects the rugged Spartan nature of the nationalist natives.
  • ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating90
  • Beauty33
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest8
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating90

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 140km (11 days)
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,600m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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Mare-Mare Nord - Cargese - © Flickr user cercamon

WALK SUMMARY

The Mare-Mare Nord, which shares its first couple of days with the Mare e Monti coastal route, is one of Corsica's most celebrated trails, crossing the island from west to east and offering, as well as a slew of magnificent scenery, a taste of an ancient, independent culture that visitors to the coastal resorts rarely get to see.  This is a tough switchback of a walk, which runs from Cargese, on the north-west coast, through the high centre of the island, crossing the notoriously tough GR20 at historically notoriously tough Corte, and meets the Tyrrhenian sea at Moriani. Highly recommended. 

The first couple of days of this trail are shared with the Mare e Monti, so booking gites ahead of time is even more necessary than usual. In Cargese, follow the signs for the Mare e Monti, which lead you up past a ruined chapel, the Pianu Maggiore and a group of idyllic shepherds' huts to E Case. The following day is a long haul up and down through scented maquis and, later, lavender fields, crossing a number of gullies, to Marginana. After that, the common path with the Mare e Monti only continues as far as Evisa; a glorious stretch of path through the Atone forest, with its memorable river cascades and hanging bridges, and climbs up to the watershed at Col de Vergio, where the landscape becomes distinctly more Alpine. 

You now have three days walking through this glorious high country, famous in equal measure for its (former) bandits and its sheep farms, before reaching Corte: a historic town that, if you feel like a rest day, would definitely validate the stop, at the end of day 6. Here, both the GR20 and the celebrated TGV railway also converge, making Corte a relatively busy and civilised place with plentiful amenities. You will need to make use of these, as the second half of the route has no shops or provisions-providers on it at all - stock up with food and water to get you all the way to the coast. 

Heading east across the Boizu plane, the land becomes less exciting for a day or so -arid land generally given over to wild pigs and sheep - with some memorable views at Bocca di Civenti and the Chapel of San Martino, passing through Sermano and a number of well-kept mountain hamlets before beginning the descent towards the sea at San Pancraziu. 

After Pianellu, enter famous chestnut groves - the locals here rely on these not just for trade but for just about their whole subsistence - and burst out onto a final day-long stretch of rolling hill country between Pied d?Alesani and I Penti, where the gite is both picturesque and famed for the quality of its restaurant.You might want to linger here, as the next day's route down to the sea is under three hours - though allow extra time for the terrible way-marking on this section. 

The trail is accessible in its entirety from mid-April through to early November, but temperatures - and tourist numbers - can reach the unbearable in July and August - though few of the latter stray far from the coast... 

Cargese, a pleasant resort town, is 50km North of the capital, Ajaccio, and can be reached from there, as well as from Porto, year-round by bus. 

Waymarking is generally in the form of stripes of orange paint on rocks, walls and trees along the route.

Key book: Cicerone's Walking in Corsica.

For more on the lusher, often prehistoric southern Mare-Mare Sud, see our dedicated page

For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Corsica walk page. 

All pictures and ideas welcome!

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Mare-Mare Nord - forest around Col de Vergio - ©Flickr user Richard Brauer

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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