My Plant Based France Adventure: Part Two, Corsica
By Molly Patrick
Jul 1, 2023,
During my epic 2½ months in France, my girlfriend and I hopped a plane to the beautiful island of Corsica (or Corse in French) in the stunning Mediterranean Sea. We rented a car and had a two-week adventure around the island. Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean and is situated southeast of the French mainland, west of Italy, and north of the Italian island of Sardinia. On a clear day you can see Sardinia from the southern town of Bonifacio.
Like most of the Mediterranean, Italy has influenced a large part of Corsica’s history. The first recorded settlement on the island was founded by the ancient Greeks, and it was conquered by the Roman Empire a few centuries later. One of the longest legacies of the Roman presence on Corsica is Latin’s influence on the modern Corsican dialect, Corsu. Over the last 1000 years, Corsica was mostly under the authority of Genoa, although it changed hands a couple of times. In 1729, a Corsican rebellion threw off almost all Italian rule, and an independent democracy was founded a few decades later. When the Genoese sold what little rights they still had on the island to France in 1768, however, the French took full advantage and sent troops to claim the whole island. With a few short exceptions, Corsica has been a French territory ever since.
You can still see the strong Italian influence almost everywhere on the island today, from the architecture to the food to the language.
Corsica was incredibly beautiful, and I would definitely go back, but it was not, I repeat, was not a plant based haven. They are known for aged meat, delicious cheese, wine, and bread. I don’t partake in any of those things, so a large part of the food culture was lost on me.
If you’re new to traveling while being plant based and gluten-free, I wouldn’t recommend starting with Corsica. If you don’t care about sticking to a plant based diet or if you’re dedicated to making your own food, it’s an incredible place to visit, rich with history, beauty, and culture. Let’s pack our bags and go!
In anticipation of few plant based options, we were prepared from the get-go. We brought plenty of food with us on the plane so we would have lunch and dinner covered. I like to pack travel food in a couple of plastic storage containers because they always come in handy during the trip.
After we landed at the Ghisonaccia Alzitone Airport, we picked up our car and headed to our host’s house in Castellare-Di-Casinca. At sunset, she took us to pick grapefruits. They were the most delicious grapefruits I’ve ever had.
We spent some time exploring the streets of Bastia, a beautiful coastal city in the northeastern part of the island.
I was surprised to find a little health food store in Bastia. Anytime you see “bio” in the name of a store in France, you will find organic, healthier products.
We ate lunch at VG, the only vegan-friendly restaurant in Bastia that we found. They have mostly vegetarian food with a few vegan options on the menu.
The next morning we fueled up on oats and granola with fruit and yummy cantaloupe melon and explored the coastal town of Brando.
We ate at a seaside restaurant called Restaurant Les Galets that didn’t have any obvious vegan options on the menu. Not surprising for where we were. But, after a little back and forth and help from the waiter, I pieced together lunch.
If you ever find yourself at a restaurant that doesn’t have vegan or plant based options on the menu, ask a server if it’s possible to put together a few veggie options. Chances are, they’ll be willing to accommodate your request.
I loved all the old buildings and narrow walkways.
A break from the car to look at the mountains.
We found a nice health food store on the way back to where we were staying. I love healthy grocery stores and will always check them out, even if I don’t need anything.
That night we made miso soup for dinner with mushrooms, carrots, celery, tofu, and rice noodles. This is one of the easiest things to do when you travel. As long as you have a small fridge and a stove, you can whip this up in no time.
The next day we packed a lunch, put our stuff in the car, and hit the road.
Having a picnic in the back of the car.
La Vie Claire is a French healthy grocery store chain we stopped by on the road to Porto-Vecchio.
Here’s what we picked up for the next few days: tomatoes, bell peppers, gluten-free baguettes for sandwiches, vegan yogurt, carrots, rice noodles, baked tofu, hummus, soy milk, blueberries, kefir, gluten-free crackers, lentil chips, all-purpose soap (we used it for laundry and dishes).
The next day we went on a beautiful hike and packed a yummy lunch.
We stayed in Porto-Vecchio for a few days. It was a good home base for exploring the surrounding areas.
Porto-Vecchio had one of the best health food stores I’ve ever been in! t’s called Biodélice and I could have spent several hours there. It had a huge selection of everything. Organic, local produce, health and beauty products, awesome packaged food, beans, tofu, and tempeh—it was truly a pleasure to visit this store. If I ever go back to Corsica, I would definitely stay in Porto-Vecchio again and shop here!
All of their beans, soups, tofu, tempeh, veggies, etc, were packaged in glass jars. It was so pretty to look at, and I loved that there was hardly any plastic.
Dinner was miso soup (again!) with loads of veggies, rice noodles, and tofu. Organic cabbage was the star of the show in this batch of miso. 🙂
We stayed at a tiny Airbnb, about a 30-minute walk from Bonifacio. It was a beautiful walk along the limestone cliffs with the gorgeous turquoise/emerald Mediterranean Sea below.
We walked to town and then spent some time wandering around for a few hours exploring the ancient alleys and lanes. We didn’t bring lunch, so we had to eat out. We found a small restaurant and ordered this yummy salad with the most amazing artichoke hearts, tomatoes, carrots, pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, hearts of palm, seaweed tartare, endive, and melon. It was a delightful plate of food.
We spent one afternoon on a boat exploring the cliffside of Bonifacio. Here’s one of the more breathtaking views.
From Bonifacio, we drove to the mountains and checked in to a hotel called Rosa De Caldane which had natural thermal pools.
But first, dinner.
The room we stayed in had a small kitchen, and we had plenty of groceries for a few days.
There was no oven in the room, but there were two small burners, so we simmered some sweet potatoes for the base of our dinner.
I found this at one of the healthy grocery stores along the way. All I had to do was add water and heat!
This was the little kitchen we cooked in for three days and where we happily ate all our meals.
Then we checked out the warm thermal pools. They were wonderful.
One day, we drove to the nearest village and walked around. It was super charming.
Dinner time! We cooked some gluten-free pasta and put together a bunch of random things to go on top. It’s not about making award-winning food in situations like this. It’s about making food. In our case, making plant based gluten-free food!
I had some arugula (AKA rocket) that I added to the pasta water when the pasta was done cooking. Then I drained everything in a colander, and the arugula was perfectly cooked.
Gluten-free pasta, arugula, cauliflower/pesto/chickpea mix, and red sauce. So yummy.
Then it was time to drive back to where we started so we could fly out the next day. Along the way, we saw some gorgeous Wisterias.
The last night we were in Corsica, we took stock of all the food we had left and made a stir fry with it all. I don’t even know what was in it. Some tofu, peas, carrots, quinoa, avocado, and maybe a few other things. We just put everything in a skillet and topped it with avocado. It was surpassingly good.
Sure, we could have searched for a plant based gluten-free friendly place to eat on our last night, but I wanted to use up what we bought. Plus, this was way more affordable and easy.
The next morning I made some sandwiches for the plane. And we were off!
An incredible trip to a beautiful island with hardly any plant based options, but plenty of plant based ingredients. If you can have access to a fridge (even if it’s tiny) and a burner or two, it’s amazing how self-sufficient you can be.
For me, the best thing about eating a healthy plant based diet when traveling is when you get back from your trip, you don’t feel bloated, tired, and ready for a vacation from your vacation.
You feel good, energized, and the same weight as when you left! For me, traveling is about so much more than eating out. Sure, there are places with fantastic vegan options, and that can be fun too, but it’s so much more than that. Traveling is about the places, the people, the history, the experiences, and opening your mind to ways of living you aren’t used to. It opens your mind and expands your heart. Every time I travel, I feel like my world gets a little bigger.
If you’re holding yourself back from traveling because you’re worried it might be hard to find plant based food, put those worries aside. With a little planning and creativity, you can totally make it work, even in a place like Corsica!
You might also enjoy reading My Plant Based France Adventure: Part One.
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