Good tips for hiking on the Côte d’Azur this summer

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Have you ever wondered where to find the best hiking spots on the Côte 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 Côte d’Azur.

Exploring the hills of Slovakia since the day he learned to walk, Michal Balážia enjoys all things the outdoors. As soon as he settled on the Côte 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.

© Mountain gang

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. “I always have two food banks with me,” he says.

Take advantage of trains and buses

For Michal, “having a car is a limitation and you can restrict yourself”. 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.

>> READ ALSO: Aquatic hike: a refreshing way to discover the French Riviera

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!

>> READ ALSO: How spending time in the mountains is good for body and soul

Embrace the adventure and spend the night

Who says hiking has to be a day’s business? “Overnight hikes are simply the best… 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. ”Also, 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 Ténibre.

“We 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. “It 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 feet… comfortable sneakers will do.” Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are also essential.

>> READ ALSO: Discovering the 7000km of hiking in the Alpes-Maritimes

Wild goats / © Mountain gang

Mercantour National Park: our expert’s favorite hiking spot

Located in the foothills of the Alps, “the 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 Vallée des Merveilles was a particularly memorable moment here for Michal. Literally translating to the “Valley of Wonders”, 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. “It’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 “use 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 “like an open-air museum”. 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”.

© Mountain gang

So what are you waiting for? Pack your suitcase, plan your route and head to the mountains for a breathtaking view of the Côte d’Azur!

>> READ ALSO: Top 10 things to do on the French Riviera


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