Good tips for hiking on the Côte d’Azur this summer
Have you ever wondered where to find the best hiking spots on the CÃ´te d’Azu?r? Confused about how to plan your route and what to pack? Monaco Tribune met a hiking enthusiast to get all the tips and tricks for spending a summer in the mountains of the CÃ´te d’Azur.
Exploring the hills of Slovakia since the day he learned to walk, Michal BalÃ¡Å¾ia enjoys all things the outdoors. As soon as he settled on the CÃ´te d’Azur two years ago, mountain climbing was his main mission.
“I asked a few friends and in two weeks we had a group of hikers.” Since then, his Facebook group “Mountain Gang” has roamed the French Riviera most weekends. A group open to everyone, from complete beginners to mountaineering pros, they have covered nearly 80 trails to date. Here’s what Michal had to say about preparing for a hike.
Use an offline map
As they can be difficult to read and update quickly, instead of taking a paper map, Michal recommends planning a trail online via IGN Topographic Map, plotting it in a navigation map, and then downloading the GPS from the route in an offline smartphone application, such as MAPS. ME. In addition to that, he urges people to pack multiple cell phone chargers to avoid running out of battery and getting lost. âI always have two food banks with me,â he says.
Take advantage of trains and buses
For Michal, âhaving a car is a limitation and you can restrict yourselfâ. Often, to avoid returning to your starting point and repeating half of the route, taking public transport is much better. From Nice, you can take several buses (90, 91, 720, 770, 790) and trains (Nice-Digne, Nice-Tende) designed to take you directly to the mountains, all year round.
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Refuel and take care of yourself
Snacks are important for maintaining energy and according to Michal, “nuts are the best.” Everything from “almonds to cashews to walnuts”. If you can find energy bars that “contain at least 60% nuts,” these will also put you in good shape. Also remember to bring at least two liters of water!
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Embrace the adventure and spend the night
Who says hiking has to be a day’s business? “Overnight hikes are simply the bestâ¦ it’s like another level of adventure.” While extended hikes are more exciting, there are a few things to keep in mind. “Bring a lamp, a sleeping bag and book the refuge [small huts offering a hot meal and a bed] in advance. âAlso, be sure to reach the overnight venue before the check-in time: something Michal achieved the hard way during his stay at Refuge de Rabuons after a hike to at Mont TÃ©nibre.
âWe were late and missed the 7pm deadline. By law here the guard at the shelter has to make sure everyone is safe and because he hadn’t heard from us (we were really slow and had no phone signal) he called the helicopters.
Plan your outfit
If you are going for a longer hike or an overnight adventure, a lap belt can be a good investment. âIt takes about 70% of the backpack’s weight off your shoulders. When it comes to shoes, “people tend to overdo it with really tough military type shoes and end up with blisters and sore feetâ¦ comfortable sneakers will do.” Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are also essential.
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Mercantour National Park: our expert’s favorite hiking spot
Located in the foothills of the Alps, âthe mountains are rugged, so you gain altitude very quickly. If the weather is nice, you can even see Corsica.
Spread over two days with a night in a mountain refuge, the hike in the VallÃ©e des Merveilles was a particularly memorable moment here for Michal. Literally translating to the âValley of Wondersâ, this route is full of wonders.
Refreshing swimming in the mountain lakes with wild goats accompanying you throughout the ride, there is plenty to admire while climbing to the 3000m peaks. âIt’s like an encyclopedia of biodiversity. Marmots, vultures and even traces of wild boar are all visible on the course. While wild boars are difficult to spot, Michal describes how they âuse their noses to dig up small seeds and roots of plants. If a path is completely destroyed, it is often because there were hungry wild boars there!
Combining history and hiking, this valley is âlike an open-air museumâ. At one point, “you can see rock carvings from the Copper Age and Early Bronze Age on the rocks.” It was “the icing on the cake of all the hikes we have had”.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your suitcase, plan your route and head to the mountains for a breathtaking view of the CÃ´te d’Azur!
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