18 Jul 2010

Un Café à Bastia (Part 2)

My next secret address, L'Idéal is also at the back of the Société Générale bank, this time making your way down the Cours Pierangeli, and further down, heading for the Place du Marché, a little provincial gem of a square only a few yards away from the Vieux Port (the old fishing port). Straight in front of you, with the beautiful Saint-Jean-Baptiste church on your right, you will find the bar/ glacier, next to La Table du Marché restaurant.

Its discreet unassuming pale façade belies a tastefully decorated interior, small in size but incredibly charming. No doubt that the shaded terrace with its potted hydrangeas and quality wicker armchairs will equally tempt you, for an alfresco refreshment. But if you nip back indoors, you will probably get tempted by the marble cake and biscuits tastefully laid out in glass jars to accompany your café noisette (an espresso with a shot of foamy hot milk), reasonably priced at 1.2 Euros. Finding yourself in the town centre yet with this off-centre tranquility at the same time, you'll be able to take the town in, enjoy a breather and lose your thoughts into a daydream, while sipping a coffee... Which is what downtime should be all about.

If you don't want to miss any of the action, walk up towards the top of Rue César Campinchi, bearing left while heading towards the Palais de Justice (courts of justice). You will find Café Francesca: a haven of respite after all that shopping and strolling! Its contemporary design with soft clean lines, dominant cream tones softening the beautifully restored brick ceilings, and an inviting leather banquette, are bound to seduce you. Unless it is the inviting homemade mousses, creams and fruit desserts presented in glass verrines on show in the vitrine by the entrance!

For a break from the traditional, why not try one of the maison's herbal fruit teas? I recommend the Thé Bulgare (3 Euros), refreshing despite being served hot. Service is friendly and informal, and you will be tempted to linger and - who knows - by the light lunches (petite restauration) on offer, to be consumed either indoors or on the pavement terrace.

If you have transport, don't mind the bill, want a bit of bikini action and fancy indulgence with a definite holiday vibe, then you can push the boat out big time and head for Lido de la Marana, Bastia's closest beach resort (please note you can't walk there from Bastia town centre).

A short drive away from the hectic and congested RN193 (South Bastia's 'A' road cutting through residential suburbs, superstores and shopping parks) is a stretch of paradise sandwiched between a long sandy beach and protected marshes, aka the Cordon Lagunaire (laguna strip), host to Lido de la Marana and its welcoming Bar de la Plage, where a standard espresso will set you back 1.50 Euros (against the usual 1.0 to 1.20 Euros), but considering the exclusive view and jet-set undertones, you will understand it is quite cheap after all.

Comfortably sat on the deck over the golden combed sandy beach, with the Bastia coastline unfolding in the distance, and the protected marsh behind you, you will be able to get even closer to beach action (where loungers and parasols are laid out for the bar patrons). But before you take your kit off and take a dip, why not have a bite to eat, and prolong that Laguna Beach moment a tad longer...

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