Today we take you to discover one of our favourite districts in Ajaccio: the Foreigners' quarter.
Why this name. Where is it located ? Follow us and we'll tell you everything!
If Ajaccio is famous for its beaches in the summer, it is less known for its label as a winter resort. In the 19th century, the inhabitants of the northern countries left the harsh temperatures to enjoy the warmth of the Mediterranean coasts and more particularly Ajaccio...
Au carrefour entre le cours Grandval et le cours Napoléon se tient la Place du Diamant (officiellement nommée Place de Gaulle). Une statue équestre de Napoléon et ses frères en est l’emblème. A l’origine, ce monument était installé face à la mer; depuis la rénovation de la place dans les années 1980, il est face à la ville.
Prenons le temps d’admirer l’architecture de ce lieu en dégustant un café à la Brewery du Diamant ou au Bar des Sports.
Let's go up the Cours Grandval. Arts deco buildings, cottages and old hotels line the route. The most imposing is " Le Grand Hôtel d'Ajaccio " with its garden. It currently houses the Collectivité de Corse, which can be visited during the Heritage Days.
Not far from there is a small neoclassical castle. Ajaccians knew it as a clinic for many years.
Then the Cours Grandval became the Cours General Leclerc. On our right we can see a bell tower. It is that of theAnglican churchIt was built at the request of Miss Campbell (a Scottish aristocrat who fell in love with Corsica and settled in Ajaccio). At that time, the imperial city had up to a thousand British winterers!
At n°13 of the Cours Général Leclerc, the Cyrnos Palace is a private mansion that has now been converted into private flats. The advertisements of the time presented it as "a first-rate establishment in a superb location in the middle of the day, in the highest and healthiest district of Ajaccio".
At the top of the Cours Général Leclerc stands the Casone. This means "big house". It is replaced by a public garden where bowlers, local children and sportsmen rub shoulders. It is also the Théâtre de Verdure where the summer music festivals take place. The esplanade is actually called the Place d'Austerlitz, but the people of Ajaccio are used to talking about the Casone or the Grotte (Napoleon). We won't spoil anything by telling you that there is no grotto. So why this name? Because legend has it that Napoleon, as a child, used to come and shelter under the rocks to read, meditate and dream about his destiny.
Visitors go there mainly for its monument surmounted by a large statue of the Emperor as a colonel of the Guard. It is a replica of the statue originally installed at the top of the Vendôme column in Paris and which is now in the Cour des Invalides.
Let's go back down towards the sea by taking the Bd Madame Mère then turn left onto the Boulevard Fred Scamaroni (which becomes Bd Sylvestre Marcaggi).
In the 19th century, this boulevard was called "The Boulevard of Foreigners. It was a tourist and residential area. The orange trees lining the boulevard are worth noting.
[PS: Before taking the bd Scamaroni, we advise you to continue a few meters on the bd Madame Mère to do some shopping in the delicatessen Maison Ferrero]
Halfway down the boulevard is theChurch of the Sacred Heart (with its neo-Byzantine façade). It was built in the early 1930s as a tribute to the dead of the Great War. Opposite it is the villa in which the painter Henri Matisse lived. A promenade on the seafront is dedicated to him (Trottel beach ↔ Miot square).