Excerpts from Malta to Nice

(7/2/05) Our arrival in Bonifacio, Corsica (the southernmost city in France) was delayed due to the weather, but the winds had dropped to 20 knots during the night.  The entrance to the harbor was spectacular – about a mile long and very narrow, with imposing cliffs on each side. Corsica also has endured a long and colorful history dating from the 7th century BC.  The Greeks, then the Romans, followed by the Italians and finally the French (1768) have possessed this island.  Bonifacio, named for Boniface (the count of Tuscany who established a stronghold here in 830 AD) resisted the French takeover, and many still consider themselves to be Italian – hundreds of years later!  (The large island of Sardinia can be seen from here.)  The Corsican language taught in the schools is a mixture of French and Italian.

We left the ship ~ 11:30, wandered through the lower town, and had lunch ashore along the marina.  The location was lovely, but the food was “just OK” and very expensive (moules, soupe de poisson, salade de chevre chaud).  At 2:00 we had a tour of the old city (Haute Ville) – a charming walled town above the harbor.  We were taken up to the ramparts by “petit train,” then leisurely walked through the narrow streets while enjoying some more delicious gelato.   We decided to stay on board for the “Lobster Barbeque” (disappointing) – then enjoyed Le Ponant’s version of “Casino Night” – with a “human one-armed bandit”, blackjack and roulette.  Betting chips were provided by the ship and the winners received prizes from the ship’s boutique.  Michel entertained with more music and we stayed up very late talking with friends.