Menton is said to be the warmest town on the French Riviera with around 316 days of sunshine a year! During the time of the Belle Epoque, royals from around Europe flocked to the town and luxury hotels and villas were built in a magical setting – which you can see to this day.
It’s a sleepy sort of place that’s on the border with Italy and there’s plenty of Italian influence here. In fact it only became a part of France in 1860, before that it belonged to Italy, Monaco and Sardinia.
Menton French Riviera
Menton is famous for the lemon trees that grow here – oranges too! Everywhere there are citrus trees and they smell simply gorgeous.
They’re lemon mad here in Menton and the shops are full of lemon products from candles to creams, jams, liqueurs and anything you can squeeze a lemon into.
From Sablettes beach you can see Italy if you look ahead and behind you is the beautiful medieval old town of Menton. The town is in an extraordinary location between the mountains and the sea.
There are a smattering of gift shops, art galleries and shops in the old town. For a souvenir, you might want to head to Les Images de Provence, 21 Rue Saint-Michel, which is choc-a-block with amazing table cloths (easy to fit in your suitcase). There are plenty of cafés and restaurants to enjoy dining al fresco, you’ll find there’s something to suit all budgets. And, there’s a great daily market (08h-13h) where you can buy fresh produce – perfect for a beach picnic.
The Baroque church St-Michel-Archange basilica is the largest in the region and its bell tower is a local landmark. The colourful, sumptuous interior was inspired by the Annunziata basilica in Genoa, climb to it via the famous Menton staircase. This is a town that you need to hike up to get around, steep cobbled alleyways lure you to explore but the chest-thumping climb is worth all the effort.
Cool squares and steep narrow streets cascade down to the sea. The old town of Menton is gorgeous with its ochre coloured houses all of which have a shade of green or white shutters to filter out the sun. The bell towers of this town stick out above the red tiled roofs. Everywhere you look there are palm, olive, lemon and orange trees and fountains with drinking water.
Head to the very top for stunning views and to visit the tranquil little cemetery where William Webb Elllis, the inventor of rugby is buried.
Menton doesn’t have the reputation of nearby Nice for glamour, it doesn’t have the party life of Cannes and St Tropez but its has bags of charm and the colours of this friendly little town on the edge of the Mediterranean are simply irresistible.