the best trails on the Cote d'Azur
The best kept (trail running) secrets on the French Riviera
If the French Riviera is the playground of the rich and famous then the mountain range nestled behind the Côte d'Azur is the playground of the fit and adventurous.
When one thinks of the French Riviera, beaches, azure blue skies and the Cannes Film Festival all spring to mind.
The best kept secrets however, (at least for any one who is not French), are the mountains of the Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur and their spectacular trails, views and elevation.
Drive north from Cannes and very quickly a high ridgeline of mountains starts to rise up on the horizon.
This ridgeline marks the start of the Parc Naturel Régional Des Préalpes d'Azur and is nicknamed the Balcon d'Azur - the higher up you live on this balcony the richer you probably are.
Behind this ridgeline lies a rich playground of mountain trails, peaks and valleys to explore.
The beauty of these mountains is their accessibility. Note the name 'Préalpes' and not the Alps proper and this gives you a clue.
For any diehard trail & ultra runners the mecca that is Chamonix with it's high mountain environment and proximity to Mont Blanc, (whose summit sits at 4810m), is a dream environment.
For others, it can be all too intimidating and that's where the Côte d'Azur comes in to play. With mountain summits rarely in excess of 2000m, it is a much more comforting and less daunting proposition for would be trail runners, beginners, and those less able.
Couple this accessibility with a stunning environment where the mountains meet the sea, (and the Mediterranean sea at that!) and you have a winning formula for trail running enthusiasts of all shapes, sizes and levels of expertise. Challenging enough to put you to the test, but not too much.
Over the coming weeks and months, I am going to uncover some of the trail running gems that this region has to offer*, I'll be out on the trails exploring, taking notes, photographs and putting together comprehensive guides for each trail so that you too can enjoy this region.
I'll be exploring from the mountains of the Massif d'Esterel to the Mercantour National Park and Mandelieu la Napoule, all the way through Cannes, Nice, Menton and Monaco.
Whether you live here, holiday here annually, or just pop over for the weekend, this guide is for you.
*I'll be trying my hand at some of the best trail and road running races in the region too so if you like to use your running habit as an excuse to travel then we have you covered.