Planning to spend a few days in Ajaccio and keen to know about the season’s offerings in the imperial city? What summer activities does Ajaccio have lined up? Let me take you through Ajaccio’s summer programme of musical and culinary events, as well as a series of activities dedicated to Napoleon.
Activities around Napoleon’s life
Napoleon was born in Ajaccio on 15 August 1769. He lived his childhood and part of his youth in Ajaccio. It was on his return from Egypt, in 1799, that he stayed here for the last time.
You can visit the city and follow in Napoleon’s footsteps by visiting the statues in his honour, the house where he was born, the baptistery in the cathedral and a host of other important landmarks.
Towards the end of his life, on St Helena, Napoleon said: “While I have not been able to achieve the plans I had for Corsica, I can at least have the satisfaction of having done something for Ajaccio”.
Dive into the world of the First Empire by taking part in these evenings, held every year between 12 and 16 August. The costumed performances are especially appealing, for young and old alike.
Here are some of the most interesting highlights of the Napoleonic evenings:
- On Saturday 13 August, you can watch the Imperial Guard being formed at the foot of the Casone monument.
- On Sunday 14 August, don’t miss “Les Princes de l’Aigle”, a show on Napoleon’s meteoric rise which will held in Place du Diamant.
- And on Tuesday 16 August, Ajaccio will bring you a show focusing on Napoleon’s private side and his complex relationship with women.
Ajaccio’s music scene
Jazz in Aiacciu Festival
Every summer, Ajaccio hosts its jazz festival in the last week of June. This year, from 27 June to 1 July, come and celebrate jazz in the leafy surroundings of the Casone theatre, in the hills above Ajaccio. It’s a great opportunity to listen to some of the top acts on the jazz scene. MiniBig, Robin McKelle, André Manoukian, Trio Rosenberg and many other performers will be playing in Ajaccio this year.
Corsican polyphonic song
Corsican polyphonic singing is part of the island’s cultural heritage. These old shepherds’ songs tell the story of their daily lives. These “paghjelle” (a cappella) songs are still performed in churches to mark important occasions.
Several dates and groups are on Ajaccio’s summer schedule.
- Passione : 9 and 28 July at 7pm, 10 and 24 September and 8 October at 6.30pm and 22 and 29 October at 6pm.
- Spartera : 17 July at 9:30 pm and 21 September at 7 pm
Ajaccio’s Aio Festival features concerts by well-known French singers. Every year, renowned artists perform at the Casone Theatre for everyone to enjoy. Over the years, we have been treated to concerts by Mika, Zazie, Patrick Bruel, M, Calogero, Les Insus and many other stars.
The 2023 roster features Florent Pagny on 27 July, Angèle on 30 July, Juliette Armanet on 31 July and Michel Polnareff on 2 August.
Cultural visits in Ajaccio
From spring to autumn, the city of Ajaccio will be offering guided tours with expert guide Pierre-André Nicolaï. This is a chance to join “VIP” tours of the imperial city’s key landmarks.
With a passion for his native city, Pierre-André Nicolaï will share anecdotes and point out the details that make these places so exceptional.
Several tours are available, each on a on number of different dates, from April to October. Here are a few suggestions:
The old town and Maison Bonaparte
Ajaccio is the city where Napoleon was born and it abounds in emblematic sites associated with the future French emperor’s early years.
This tour will lead you through the old town and closes with a visit to the family home, Maison Bonaparte.
Taking on the citadel of Ajaccio
A former military stronghold, the citadel is currently being restored, having been handed over to the city of Ajaccio. Pierre will reveal some of the citadel’s secrets to you.
The site of the Sanguinaires cemetery is already a stunning setting. Why not listen to the anecdotes about the place and find out which celebrities are laid to rest there? The most well-known is Tino Rossi, who sang French Christmas hit, “Petit Papa Noël”.
The masterpieces of Palais Fesch
Did you know that Palais Fesch ranks second only to the Louvre for its collection of Italian paintings? An ideal opportunity to marvel at works by Botticelli, Veronese and Titian.
Ajaccio at night
If the days are too hot, why not visit Ajaccio and its key attractions in the evenings. You’ll discover a whole new city.
Ajaccio’s red gold
Red gold? That’s the local name for coral. Pierre-André will share the history of these fishermen and invite you to visit an artisan jeweller’s workshop.
Go on an aperitif tour
“Macagna” (Corsican for hoax or joke) with an aperitif! A tour where Pierre-André will be telling some stories that are not always true, and it will be up to you to sort out true from false! A quick challenge to test your knowledge of the imperial city! In the second part, an appointment with a master sommelier to taste 3 different wines from the AOP Ajaccio region.
Tino Rossi’s Ajaccio
A walking tour through the sites cherished by Tino Rossi and often recollected in his songs.
1943-2023 : 80 years from the liberation of Corsica
On 4 October 1943, Corsica became the first department to be freed from occupation. Pierre-André will explain how this liberation was possible.
The price of these tours accompanied by a qualified guide is between €8 and €10 (except for the aperitif tour at €15). Please note that a visit of your choice is included in the AJACCIO CITY PASS. Find all the information you need on the website of Ajaccio Tourist Office.
Discover Corsica’s cuisine
The Farmers’ Market
A region can also be explored with the palate and Corsica is a land rich in flavours. The farmers’ market takes place every Saturday and Sunday morning from 7 am to 1 pm. Just opposite the tourist office, on Place Campinchi, you’ll find Corsican producers who will be happy to show you the local wares. Sold directly from producer to consumer.
La Halle, gourmet food market
Every day of the week, from 7 am to 2 pm, you can savour Corsican delicacies and shop for locally-sourced ingredients.
Let the season begin…
The imperial city is poised to greet you from spring to autumn with a packed schedule. With a wide range of activities to suit all tastes, all that’s missing is you…
A tip from me: In 2022, Ajaccio city council launched the City Pass Pays d’Ajaccio which gives you to access to sites or events, a tour with a guide and special promotions from partners.For activities in the Ajaccio area, I suggest you read the article The best things to see near Ajaccio.