on james baldwin & the presqu’île de l’Île-rousse
While reading the biography of James Baldwin by David Leeming, I learned that James Baldwin had traveled to Corsica, more specifically to L’Île-Rousse on the west coast, at the time of the publication of Giovanni’s Room, his second novel.
He went to L’Île-Rousse “where he would try to finish Another Country.” It was September, 1956. He stayed for six months, living in a house provided by a friend Mme Dumont.
It was the first time I had heard of L’Île-Rousse. I knew one day I would travel to Corsica and decided then that L’Île-Rousse would be a part of that visit.
I assume at some point James Baldwin wandered out to the presqu’île of L’Île-Rousse and looked back. (“Presqu’île” refers to the peninsula that juts out from the port in L’Île-Rousse.)
Walking out there is what you do while visiting L’Île-Rousse. A small tourist train is available as well, and it will take you to the top and down again. You follow the Route du Port and then diverge to the left and walk up the Chemin de Phare. It is an easy walk.
At the top and at the end of your walk is the Phare de la Pietra. (Phare in French means lighthouse.) On the way up is the Tour Genoise de la Pietra à L’Île-Rousse. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Looking back to L’Île-Rousse you get a sense of the rugged landscape that dominates Upper Corsica. It looms up in the distance and reduces L’Île-Rousse from a city to a town. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
You feel like Gulliver after he washes ashore on the small island of Lilliput, looking back and down from the Phare de la Pietra and toward L’Île-Rousse and the Tour Genoise de la Pietra and the 6-inch tourists and the toy tourist train and the model town that is L’Île-Rousse. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
The waters of the Mediterranean Sea surrounding Corsica are deep blue and clear. The colors contrast with the reddish, rustic rocks and granite that line the shores. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)