When you fly in to Nice airport from the west, it’s difficult not to notice the striking red rocks and bizarre shapes of the Esterel mountains, a volcanic mountain range that floated off Africa several million years ago and now forms the border between the Var and the Alpes Maritimes departments, just west of Cannes! Nowadays, in the absence of dinosaurs and other dodgy creatures, it’s a great place for hiking and also to relax on the lovely red beaches, the contrast with the blue of the Mediterranean makes it a truly magical spot. But this time of the year is perfect to visit when there are fewer crowds and it’s not too hot in the hills.
As the weather gets warmer, the mountains get more appealing and spring is the perfect time to go hiking on the French Riviera! Indeed, the coastline is only the tip of the iceberg and the “département” (county) is called the Alpes Maritimes for a reason as most of it is covered by the southern Alps. This is the view from the top of the Col de Tende, the mountain pass at around 1000m above sea level that marks the border between Italy and France up in the hinterlands, looking south down the Roya valley towards the coastline and Ventimiglia. Find out more about the opportunities to explore the mountains and make the most of the great outdoors with my practical guide!
It may be the season of carnivals but this time of the year on the French Riviera is also the time of the mimosa tree, which colours the whole countryside in a beautiful bright and fragrant yellow which is wonderful for photos but horrible for people who are allergic to the pollen! Why not go for a nice hike in the hills this weekend, especially close to the village of Tanneron in the foothills of the Esterel just behind Cannes, where you can enjoy some fantastic views. If you need some inspiration on where to go, follow the recommendations in the dedicated article, have fun! PS. This photo was taken just across the border in Italy, in the beautiful gardens of Villa Hanbury, you’ll find more about this beautiful place soon…
When I moved back permanently to Monaco in 2002, one of the first things I did was to take advantage of the fabulous weather all-year round (which, as a Londoner, I’ll never take for granted!) and start exploring the beautiful mountains and villages located behind the coastal strip of the Riviera that had always fascinated me as a child but had never had the opportunity to visit.
The wonderful Mediterranean climate of the Côte d’Azur provides plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the great outdoors and to partake in activities such as canoeing, canyoning, rock climbing, rafting, mountain biking, skiing and hiking – since I love the great outdoors but hate sports that require equipment and effort, I’ll concentrate on the latter in this article! Over a decade after I started hiking, there are still hundreds of trails that still remain for me to discover, so you will never get bored or run out of things to do.