Visit Desert des Agriates
The Desert des Agriates is a barren, wild and beautiful wilderness based west of Saint-Florent, along the coast and around Mont Genova, in the Balagne region of northern Corsica.
The Desert des Agriates is the only 'official' desert in Europe. It is more of a dry, scrub covered landscape than the 'typical' type of desert that you might imagine.
Explore the Desert des Agriates
At 40 km long, it also contains the longest stretch of protected coastline in Europe.
There is only one road that crosses the Desert des Agriates - the D81 from Saint-Florent to the Ostriconi Valley, and only one small village, called Santa-Pietro-di-Tenda and a hamlet called Casta. We drove along the D81 not expecting much more than a route from L'Ile Rousse to Saint-Florent but found the journey took a lot longer than we planned as we had to keep stopping to soak up the views and enjoy the wonderful 'herby' smell of the Maquis.
There is a coastal path that runs the length of the coast in the Desert des Agriates from Ostriconi to Saint Florent.
Come prepared if you intend to do it, it will take 2 days minimum, typically three days, and you are walking in direct sunshine most of the time.
The most common plan with hikers is to walk from Ostriconi to Ghignu on day 1 (a long days walk); from Ghignu to Saleccia on day 2; then Saleccia to Saint Florent on day 3 (another long day).
There are very basic facilities at Ghignu and a larger campsite at Saleccia. You are NOT permitted to camp elsewhere along the coast or light fires etc.
Beaches of the Desert des Agriates
The beaches, of which there are several with beautiful fine sand, are accessible from the D81 or by boat from Saint-Florent. Two in particular, close to Saint-Florent, are the Plage de Loto and the Plage de Saleccia (reached on foot or by offroad vehicles only).
Near the start of the D81 the Ostriconi beach is considered one of the best beaches in Corsica. It is a bit of a walk to get to it but worth the trouble if you are in the area.
Mafalco beach, halfway along the coastal section of the desert, is a very peaceful and scenic beach, if a little hard to get to!
Places to Visit Nearby
Other parts of the Nebbio region offer pretty scenery.
See our guide to more spectacular beaches in Corsica.