Obelix (from cartoon character series Asterix) loved them, especially roasted on a pit fire. Hunters in the Var and Alpes-Maritimes love them too.
As a hiker, I love them only from a great distance.
Wild boars (Sus scrofa scrofa) abound in the denser forests of the French Riviera. Their short, sturdy, scrubby bodies and large pig heads give them a rugged appearance, like a haggard version of a pig.
They forage the Côte d'Azur forests, digging burrows in the dirt with their long snouts. They're snorting around for acorns, chestnuts, mushrooms, roots, berries, anything to gobble up.
But they wouldn't gobble up a hiker? Or would they?
At dusk, below the Maison Forestière du Malpey in the Estérel Mountains I spotted one last week. It crossed my hiking path, sturdy head down, pig tail up in the air. It stopped and looked at me.
I must have looked like one strange animal with my red backpack, my hairless peach-colored top and a vague smell of lavender soap around me.
I didn't impress him (her?). It continued to trot down the road and disappeared offtrack.
Meanwhile, the peach-colored animal was seen dashing down the path, limbs wavering, and squealing: "un sanglier! un sanglier!"
Am I likely to encounter one on my Côte d'Azur walks?
If you ask local hunters, the sangliers are everywhere. They cause beaucoup de damage to local farmers and residents. And they're vicious beasts that could well attack you to protect their babies.
The reality is far lamer. It's difficult to estimate the number of wild boars because, well, they're wild. But they do roam in high numbers in dense forests of the Estérel, Maures or Tanneron and in the Nice back-country in our neck of the woods in South Eastern France.
You can tell of their visit from the double-digit hoof prints left in muddy paths. Another tell-tale sign is the messy rooting found on the side of footpaths they've foraged. Foraging does happen in people's back-yards where homes border wilder land.
However, when they haven't been taught that some humans give food and grow lovely bulbs, they're shy and nocturnal. Your chances are slim to come nose to snout against one. In my years of hiking the forests between Nice and St Tropez, I've seen a wild boar only twice.
You're far more likely to find one on a Provençal menu in the Fall when hunting season is on.
Where on the French Riviera can I find one on my plate?
Most restaurants who serve wild boar are real and rustic auberges where home cooking prevails.
The restaurant La Petite Fontaine, in Collobrières (in the Maures Mountains), makes one mean Civet de Sanglier and occasional Daube de Sanglier (slow cooked in red wine). They're at 1 place de la République, Collobrières, Phone: 04.94.48.00.12. Call them to check as the sangliers tend to go fast, on food plates as well as in the wild.