The Alpes-Maritimes region is ideal for anyone who wants to discover the area, whether by motorbike, regular bicycle or even on foot. With 1200km of routes known as “long hikes” (GRs) and more than 7000km when including the shorter excursions possible, there are undoubtedly options for both amateurs and pros alike.

De la passion et du dynamisme (or ‘passion and dynamism’) — the slogan from the Alpes-Maritimes Departmental Federation for Hiking. When Patrick Rey, supervisor for the Commission of Paths, Plans and Digital; Michel Peracchia, member of the commission as well as supervisor of communication; as well as Erell Coënt, development agent spoke to Monaco Tribune over video call, ideas were coming together before our eyes. With 80 affiliated associations and 4,800 members, there is no way the committee can rest on their laurels.

Hiking in Alpes-Maritimes

Glancing at the map of GRs around the department, you quickly realise that there is plenty to do in Alpes-Maritimes. From North to South runs the final part of the GR5 which starts in Amsterdam. There is also the GR653A, which is a part of the famous Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle between Menton and Théoule. G4, which leaves from Royan, just next to the Atlantic Ocean, finishing in Grasse for now, but soon will extend to Cannes. Aside from these more extensive routes, there is a mesh, a multitude of smaller paths.

Between sea and mountains

The Federation’s objective is not only to identify and maintain these beautiful hikes but also to create new ones, like the GR51. “Its nickname is ‘the balconies of the French Riviera.’ It’s a path that goes through Le Var from Menton, via the hills with magnificent views of the city outskirts and the seafront,” offers Patrick Rey. The GR Lou Camin Nissart, a 42km long hike forming one big loop which starts from Nice and winds into the hills of the French Riviera’s capital, was the brainchild of the committee. Last year they approved the GR52, nicknamed the GTM, or the Great Crossing of Mercantour, as a declaration of love to the regional park from Entraunes to Menton. “These are sixteen stages that will, in my opinion, become mythical because this GR is as beautiful as the famous GR20, if not more than,” enthuses Patrick Rey.

It is interesting to note that most of the trails are former trade routes with Italy

Everyone should be hiking!

Well, choice is not lacking in this region! But can everyone put on their trainers when hiking in the Alpes-Maritimes? The head of the commission doesn’t hesitate for a second. “I believe everyone should be hiking, without a shadow of a doubt. It’s just a question of being aware of your fitness level. You can start slowly on a healthy hike and progress, even for people who have never done any sport.” “We are a border country, and it is interesting to note that most of the trails are former trade routes with Italy,” agrees Michel Peracchia. “They were therefore not for athletes, so obviously they are still open to everyone today. We’re in a region where it’s very varied, there’s something to do in every season whether it’s a walk, a snowy hike, a snowshoe outing.”

Good news for urban hikers!

It is seemingly impossible to get bored in Alpes-Maritimes. The committee has many projects on the go, such as developing an app which will list all the hikes in the department as well as creating a series of urban hikes. “We are going to promote hiking close to home,” explains Patrick Rey. “We’re creating sixteen themed urban hikes through Nice, and we also have projects in Cannes, Antibes, and Cagnes.” The goal is to target another, more urban audience who don’t necessarily have the vehicle nor the time to go hiking so would maybe consider going during the lunch break. Hopefully, it’s enough to motivate young working people and establish a new trend. “Hiking is a growing sport,” says Erell Coënt, “For the ‘hiking’ side but also nature tourism.” Time to grab your trainers!

To find out more about different itineraries and participate in hiking activities, visit the Alpes-Maritimes Departmental Federation for Hiking (in French)