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The GR20: a unique mountain landscape

Flora and Corsica

Like other Mediterranean islands, Corsica has abundant vegetation used to dry heat, violent wind storms and the cold weather of the mountains. Its tangled and fragrant maquis (scrub) has a wealth of unique subspecies, only found on this particular island. Up to 600m in altitude, it is possible to spot wild strawberry trees, myrtle, rosemary, cistus and heather. Above this zone, laricio pine forests reign on sunny slopes (sulana). During the 19th century, Guy de Maupassant celebrated these majestic forests in his book on Corsica: “Enormous pine trees created a groaning canopy above our heads that gave out a sad and constant lament, whilst both to the left and to the right, their straight and slender trunks formed a sort of army of organ pipes that seemed to make monotonous music of wind amongst the pines.

Corsica, a granite island

“Corsica, a mountain in the sea”, this description of Corsica can literally be found everywhere in magazines and guidebooks. However, according to the geologist, Alain Gauthier, Corsica is not one but “two mountains in the sea”.
Corsica’s relief is made up of two different mountain ranges. Made up of volcanic rocks such as rhyolites, ignimbrites and granite, the western range of Corsica’s mountains is also called terra di signori (land of lords) or “Above the mounts”. It is precisely this mountain range that you cross when walking the GR20. The eastern mountain range is made up of ancient volcanic and sedimentary rocks. It is also called terra del commune (land of the commons) or “Below the mounts”.
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