The Alpes Maritimes

Alpes Maritimes

The "Alpes Maritimes" is located in the South-eastern of France. This area lies on 4300 km2 and is divided into two unequal areas: Mountains occupying 80% of the county facing 880 km² of coastal area along 60 km of shoreline. Variety of the climate is very linked to the variety of the territory. The Mediterranean weather which rules the coastal area rapidly turns into an Alpine climate when altitude exceeds 800 m. Around Nice, the sea breeze is reinforced by valley breezes from mountains around and is muchmore regular than elsewhere in the county. North cold winds are not that frequent. Thus this zone is humid and the mean rain in Nice is 800 mm per year. All that contributes to higher temperatures in winter (9.1 ºC in Antibes) and fresher ones in summer (maximum of 27.3 ºC in July in Antibes). The population has been estimated in 2013 to 1,100,000 inhabitants in the "Alpes Maritimes" county. The population is unequally distributed over the county. The coastal area, urbanized and densely populated (95% of the total county population), includes all the cities in an almost continuous conurbation from Cannes to Menton, while the larger but sparsely populated mountainous area is fully rural.

Landscape and forest vegetation

Due to the geographical position, you will find many species of trees, shrubs and flowers. The Mediterranean climate includes mainly 3 kind of vegetation:

Garrigue is a type of low, soft-leaved scrubland ecoregion and plant community in the Mediterranean forests and scrub biome where Quercus coccifera or Quercus ilex are widely distributed. Garrigue is associated with calcareous plateaus (limestone and base rich) and calcium associated plants. UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre described garrigue as "discontinuous bushy associations of the Mediterranean calcareous plateaus, often composed of Quercus ilex, lavender, thyme, and white cistus. There may be a few isolated trees."

Maquis is broadly similar to garrigue, but the vegetation is more dense, being composed of numerous closely spaced shrubs. Maquis is associated with siliceous (acid) soils. The plant communities are associated with Quercus suber, Arbutus unedo and Pistacia lentiscus L.

The pine forest, mainly composed of Pinus halepensis and Pinus pinaster. There are also deciduous forests in the wetter areas.