When hiking is practiced in the city

Home When hiking is practiced in the city
Written by Doug Hampton

Let it be said, hiking is no longer practiced only in the countryside, in the forest or in the mountains. In recent years, its followers have also taken up residence… in town.

The GR2013 celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. A long-distance hiking trail which has the particularity of unfolding not in the middle of nature, but in the heart of the Aix-Marseille metropolis. It was the first of its kind in France. And since ? City hiking has steadily gained momentum. Paris inaugurated its GR in 2017 and offers three circuits of 20 km each. Without forgetting Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, Strasbourg… all of which have developed circuits that leave more or less room for bitumen.

Surprising? Yes and no. If the periods of confinement and the masks in transport have made some people want to abandon cars, buses, trams and metros in favor of bicycles or scooters, others have opted for walking. For their home-work journeys when possible, but also for fun. This is the other effect of the confinements, when travel on foot was reduced to the strict minimum: the adventure had to be around the corner. And, as for the bike or the scooter, the habit remained.

For a “walkable” city

This enthusiasm has not escaped the notice of the French Hiking Federation, which has decided to commit to “promote a city in which pedestrians have their place”. With other partners, it has, for example, established a barometer of “walkable” cities and organized the first national meeting on walking in the city.

It also gives some advice, for those who would like to discover or rediscover their city differently, at their own pace, and in good conditions. Because, even in town, a hike requires preparation. So, “to avoid trampling among the crowds or missing the bustle of a large market, remember to choose the right departure time and the right day of departure”.

Sneakers and backpack

And on the feet, what do you put on? If good soft sneakers, with good cushioning, can suffice in most cases, “However, it is more appropriate to take hiking shoes if you plan to walk for a few hours on paved ground, to climb stairs, etc.” If you are new to the area, bring a tourist guide or a topoguide to avoid unpleasant surprises, such as car traffic for example: “stay vigilant, avoid the main roads and important intersections”.

Finally, who says hiking says backpack, here again adapted: this one does not have to be very big, and can simply contain water, some fruit or biscuits, and anti-blister bandages. Advantage of hiking in town: if you miss something, you will always find a store to help you out.

To note : Walking is one of the low to moderate intensity physical activities, which the WHO recommends taking 150 minutes a week to maintain good health. And this regardless of where this activity is carried out, including in urban areas. Provided periods of pollution peaks are avoided, the long-term benefits of regular exercise outweigh the risks associated with air pollution.

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