The appeal of Porto-Vecchio Old Town lies in both its attractive, compact centre full of chic bars, restaurants and boutiques set amongst charming old buildings, and the modern marina below teeming with pleasure boats and luxury yachts.
What’s more, some of the best beaches in Corsica are right on its doorstep with impressive mountains a short distance inland.
Outside of the Old Town and marina, Porto-Vecchio has developed quite rapidly (and at times haphazardly), especially on its outskirts where some large shopping complexes have sprung up.
Porto-Vecchio’s quaint Old Town consists of a small grid of small cobbled streets, a main square (Place de la République) and ruins of the ancient citadel.
To reach the Old Town from the Marina, walk 10 minutes up the road that bears to the right up the hill (it is also possible to park along this road).
Place de République is Porto-Vecchio’s main square, lined with lively restaurants and bars, many with pavement terraces – a great place to watch the world go by.
The imposing St Jean-Baptists church dominates the southern side of the square. There is also a large tropical twisted tree known as ‘Bel Ombra’, presented to Porto-Vecchio in 1901.
At night during high season the square transforms into a fairly lively, sophisticated nightlife hotspot (teeming mostly with bronzed Italians and even the occasional celebrity!).
Porto-Vecchio’s fortresses (bastions) and gates are well maintained. In places it is possible to climb up steps to the top of the wall.
The Bastion de France (so called as it was occupied by French troops during the surrender of the town to the King of France on June 14, 1769) was restored in 1989 and is now used for conferences and exhibitions.
The Bastion San Antonia is located directly above the oldest fountain in the Porto-Vecchio.
The Porte Genoise gate frames a wonderful panoramic view of the Harbour, sea, surrounding valley (including salt pans) and mountains.
In September you can witness the annual salt harvest from here. A row of charming restaurants set in the ancient city wall, with narrow verandas boasting the same glorious vista, are located alongside the Genoise Gate.
The granite church of Saint Jean-Baptiste was built in the 19th century, in Roman style with an elaborate belfry (similar to that in the mountain village of Quenza).
Inside is a late 16th century painting on canvas of the Crucifixion. The frescoes on the aisles were restored in the 1950s and the stained glass windows in the 1960s.