D81-Calanques de Piana is a scenic balcony road in France
Calanques de Piana is the name of an amazing series of rock formations located on the west coast of the island of Corsica, halfway between Ajaccio and Calvi. If you don't like winding roads this may be a problem. It’s one of the French balcony roads.
Can you drive through the Calanques de Piana?
The road through the Calanques de Piana is totally paved. It’s called D81. It’s a traditional Corsican seaside road, very curvy and extremely challenging due its narrowness. It’s said to be one of the great drives of Europe. Between Porto and Piana, this narrow road winds against the magnificent red granite faces that plunge into the sea. Engraved by the erosion, they look like a fantastic sculpture.
Is the Calanques de Piana challenging?
The road is 11.1 km (6.89 miles) long, running west-east from Piana to D84 road. Be careful, as the road is narrow, sinuous and very busy in summer. As you’ll discover magnificent landscapes, you’ll certainly want to take some pictures. Don’t stop your car in the middle of the road, and don’t park on the roadside. Caution is required when driving on this road, as in parts it's so narrow that cars can only just pass through - but the location is worth it. Due to the fact that Calanches de Piana are so famous this road is flooded by tourists and their vehicles. Even big motorhomes and buses with 40 persons and more try to pass the road even though they are simply too big for this road. This results always in traffic jams because going into reverse is not an option. During the touristic season the village of Porto provides a special service. On both sides of the scenic part of this street there are guides who communicate via radio. Alternating they block the traffic and guide the buses through this tight part of the road by driving a bicycle. Partly there is less than 10 cm left on both sides of the vehicle!
Is the Calanques de Piana worth it?
The drive offers breathtaking views through the cliffs. The road runs through a spectacular landscape of red granite cliffs and spiky outcrops, carved into bizarre shapes by the forces of wind and water. Because they are so attractive, and are now a UNESCO World heritage Site, the Calanches are also very popular and the road can become very busy during the summer months. The D81 road cuts across the creeks for about 2 kms with excellent viewpoints of the famous red granite cliffs and the gulf of Porto. Really magnificent, particularly at sunset. It’s worth the detour, exceptional. This road has not to be missed if you are visiting this region of Corsica!
Road suggested by: Michael Spannlang