Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic
Travel

Le chemin des douaniers (customs officers’ path)


On the very top of the Cap Corse, there is a path, called “chemin des douaniers” which goes along the coast. In this end of the world, there are few roads, few people, few or even no buildings. The landscape is breathtaking. The coast, beaten by the winds, is cut into steep cliffs that plunge into the sea and hidden coves. The green of the maquis descends the mountain and plunges into the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
At first sight, rough and wild, the Cap Corse does not seem to be surrender easily. This hidden paradise, conceals treasures that it reveals only to the most courageous hearts. Here, the coast is virgin of any construction. The most beautiful places are secret and there is no road to reach them. To discover them, you must accept to leave the
road, to leave by foot (with a good pair of sneakers) towards the unknown and to take the « chemin des douaniers » which along the sea.
Paradise has to be earned.

The path is divided into two stages which can be taken in either direction. The first one, from Macinaggio to Barcaggio, goes up the east coast of the Cap Corse. The second part, goes down the coast, onthe West side, from Baracaggio to Centuri.
We made the most of a beautiful day during our escapade to Corsica last spring with my sister, to take a part of the path, between Barcaggio and Macinaggio.

The weather is clear, the sun is shining, a light sea breeze guarantees us a little freshness during our hike. It is ideal.
We go up the beach of Barcaggio. At the end, the path starts. We begin a first ascent. Offshore, the island of Girgaglia accompanies us for this beginning of hike. Along the rocky path, we see piled up stones. The hikers who pass by this place have taken the habit of depositing a pebble there thus forming, over the years, a small pyramid.

Chemin-des-douaniers-Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic

We stop for a moment at this place. Behind us, the village seems already far away. However, we are only at the beginning of our hike.
We continue towards our first stage: “the demon’s tower”. It is a Genoese tower from the XIth century which overhangs a magnificent creek with turquoise waters.

demon-tower-Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic

I never knew if it was an established legend or just a story that my father told us when we were children, but in any case, it is said that this tower is named this way because anyone who dares to enter it, never comes out.
A very gloomy story for such a beautiful place. Perhaps the reason for this legend is to preserve it from too many impromptu visitors? When you think about it, it’s a bit like the story of Cap Corse. A place which at first sight seems inhospitable, of a wild beauty, surprising, still preserved, that we appreciate and especially respect.
The Cap Corse is a protected natural park. We do not throw anything on the ground and we do not pick any plant or flower, all the species are protected.

Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic

The very characteristic perfume of the maquis embalms the surroundings.
We admire hundreds of bees buzzing from flower to flower. In front of this spectacle, it is hard to believe that elsewhere they are in the process of disappearing. These places, still preserve a natural balance and a rich ecosystem.

Chemin-des-douaniers-Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic

After having reached the tower of the demon, a rather steep rise awaits us. It is worth it – the view is superb from the top. We can see our second stage in the distance: the beach of Sainte Marie and its Genoese tower. To join it, we must first go down again towards the sea. We have the impression of diving directly into the Mediterranean Sea. We finally reach a white sand beach with turquoise waters. The place is heavenly.
We continue our way and see, at the bend of a curve, the famous Sainte Marie tower.

Sainte-Marie-Tower-Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic

It is one of the rare Genoese towers of the Island to have been built along the beach. Half of it was destroyed in 1794 following an attack by the English fleet, and today it is one of the symbols of the Cap Corse.

Sainte-Marie-Tower-Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic

From there, partially hidden by the maquis we can see the white bell tower of a small chapel. Dating from the XIth century, the chapel of Sainte Marie is one of the oldest
Christian buildings of the island. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, of an immaculate white lost between the sea and the scrubland.

Sainte-Marie-chapel-Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic

The path continues behind the chapel. We are now walking on a red dirt road that contrasts with the green of the scrub. A few more efforts and we reach our last step: the beach of Tamarone. From there, we enjoy the unique view of the Finocchiarola islands. Natural reserve, forbidden to man, these three islands are protected
for the preservation of several species of sea birds.

Tamarone-beach-Cap-Corse-sauge-et-basilic

After three and a half hours of walking, we finish our hike. Grateful for this marvelous day, the head full of magnificent images, the body certainly tired, but the spirit calm and rested.


Chemin des douaniersPractical information:
The hike can be done in either direction.
Macinaggio – Barcaggio 3h30
Barcaggio – Centuri 5h00
25 km
Avoid hot and windy days
Bring adequate shoes and water
Camping, bivouac and fires are forbidden

More information

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