Sitting on the Mediterranean Sea at the Italian border, Menton enjoys a quasi-subtropical climate with hot summers and mild and sunny winters. Indeed, you can lounge in the sun on its dozen sand or pebble beaches 331 days a year, and without being bothered by mosquitos!
With a population of just 29,000 , Menton is a small and peaceful city with an old-fashioned charm that attracts mature and discriminating visitors. But young people are also well-served with no less the 13 playgrounds for young children and some bars by the sea and at the foot of the old town for the older ones.
The first mention of the city dates from July 21, 1262. In the 13th century, the Genoese Vento family acquired the seigneury of Puypin and built a château on the Via Julia Augusta, giving birth to the town of Menton.
The territory was then under the suzerainty of the princes of Monaco from 1346 until 1845 when Menton proclaimed itself a Free City before being incorporated into France in 1861.
The Bastion, presently situated on the port, was built on the sea as an advance defence by a prince of Monaco in 1636. Today, it houses one of the museums devoted to Jean Cocteau.
At the mayor's office on the Place Nationale, by paying a small admission fee, unless you happen to be getting married there, you can admire the frescoes painted by Cocteau in the Wedding Room. pan>
The cobblestone streets and medieval stairs that wind through the old town are a somber but here and there the sun beautifully lights up the colourful houses in soft tones of ochre, gold and pink.
As you wander around, you will discover the Saint Michel Basilica on the street of the same name. A gem of baroque art. Every August, the chamber music festival takes place on the square in front of it.
A bit further along, you will find the enigmatic and richly decorated White Penitents Chapel.
Continuing the climb to the top of the town, rugby fans take note: the sport's inventor is buried in the cemetery of the Rue du Vieux Château. A tranquil spot, it offers the best views over the city and the sea.
If you have the time, go for a promenade on the Boulevard Garavan where you can admire the sea and the fairytale-like houses built at the end of the 19th century in the “Babylonian dream”. The boulevard has recently been covered in mosaics by Portuguese artists.
Menton is also famous for its gardens, such as the Val Rahmeh botanical garden, the Serre de la Madone listed as a historic monument and labelled “Remarkable Garden”, the Fontana Rosa, a garden of ceramics also called the Jardin des Romanciers,
and, of course, the Citrus Fruit Garden at the Palais Carnolès that boasts the biggest collection of citrus fruits in Europe and the Biovès garden with its citrus fruit sculptures during the lemon festival
When life gives you lemons.... start a festival!
Each year in February, Menton celebrates its citrus fruit with a different theme. The Fête du Citron lemon festival, which rivals the Carnival of Nice, has become an institution since its debut in 1928 in the gardens of the Hotel Riviera. Amongst other festivities, on Sundays as well as some Thursday evenings, citrus fruit floats parade down the Promenade du Soleil, accompanied by brass bands, dancers, folklore groups and lots of confetti. At the end of the festival, the fruit is sold at a cheap price
In the area around Menton :
Ventimiglia: Italian border town, fantastic market every Friday morning
Gorbio: hilltop village and former Templar's commandery, the Saint-Barthélemy Church (1683), the Penitents Capel (1445), the Lascaris Tower (12th century) and the Château of the counts of Malaussène (15th-17th century)