Menton, a wealthy town close to the Italian border, has a real veneration for the lemon plant: legend has it that Eve, driven out of Paradise carrying one of these golden fruits, planted its precious seeds right here.
The town, small and intimate, offers an enchanting Mediterranean atmosphere: stroll unhurriedly through the old town with its reddish houses, lingering in its many gardens, which are considered the most beautiful on the Côte d’Azur.
Also not to be missed is an event that enlivens the town in February: the sensational Fête du Citron, which sees parade floats covered with 115 tonnes of lemons, from which incredible themed sculptures are made.
The last French town before Italy, Menton is considered the pearl of France. With its very special subtropical climate, characterised by mild, sunny winters and hot, dry summers, its old town centre and its ancient façades in soft pastel colours, it is a small wonder, full of lush gardens.
Between its famous Lemon Festival and magnificent beaches by the sea, a holiday in Menton will allow you to discover a unique historical, cultural, culinary and architectural heritage.
The old town has a gentle family air about it. It is no coincidence that it is very close to Italy. A charm with Italian accents emanates from this place. You won’t struggle to lose yourself in the alleys, stairways and shady squares lined with bright ochre façades; a labyrinth of majestic ramps, Baroque façades and sloping alleys that reveal the blue Mediterranean at the bottom.
In the fortified old town, the medieval traverses and the baroque ensemble of the Saint-Michel churchyard reveal all the time that has passed over the centuries.
In the heart of Menton’s historic quarter, this jewel of Baroque art, built in 1639, dominates the old town with its 53-metre-high bell tower, the emblem of Menton.
Opening the door, inside, trompe-l’oeil paintings by Cerrutti-Maori decorate the central vault and an amaranth-coloured Genoese damask underlines the baroque character of the building.
Between the fishing port and the baroque town, at the foot of the Campanin bell tower, you can visit a magnificent, colourful and lively venue: the Les Halles market, the mecca of life and gastronomy in Menton.
On the façade, edged with polychrome ceramics from the Saïssi manufactory, is a date: 1898. This is the age of the beautiful lady: for more than 120 years, every morning, Mentonese and holidaymakers meet here in an incessant hubbub and an authentic atmosphere. Let yourself be carried away and overwhelmed by the local aromas and flavours: scents, spices and colours awaken the senses with the seductive notes of the south.
The Halles market is open every day until 1 pm. Some forty producers will show you the best of local gastronomy and production, with the freshness and goodness of the many culinary specialities such as lemon tarts, socca, barbajuans and other Menton pies.
In an exceptional setting, facing the sea, Les Sablettes is a much-loved spot for the people of Menton, who usually meet here for an aperitif or a chat.
Sixty extraordinary trees create a botanical and exotic promenade between kapok trees from Paraguay and coconut trees from Chile: at any hour of the day, you will find a swarm of people enjoying the city from an unprecedented perspective.
With its two marinas, ideally located, Menton opens generously onto the Mediterranean Sea. Sheltered from the north winds and not far from Italy, the Porto Vecchio is dominated by the Basilica of Saint-Michel Archangel and offers a breathtaking view of the old town. A place where the fishermen of Menton used to live, its entrance is marked by the Bastion that houses the Jean Cocteau Museum.
With its atmosphere teeming with life, the old port welcomes pleasure boats alongside the traditional pointus and fishing boats. A stone’s throw from the town centre and the shops, boaters enjoy the feeling of being in the centre of Menton. The nearby Esplanade des Sablettes offers space for strolling, entertainment, restaurants and bars.
Inaugurated in November 2011, the Musée Jean Cocteau is a museum centre entirely dedicated to the artist, with works mainly from the collection of Séverin Wunderman.
This museum is the largest public collection of Cocteau’s work: the 2700 m2 building is located at the foot of the old town, opposite the covered market and houses 300 works, renewed every year. It is devoted exclusively to Jean Cocteau’s work from 1910 to 1950, presented in all its forms, particularly film.
Its original architecture, composed of an intriguing deconstructed slab of glass and concrete, so well integrated into the landscape, is the work of Rudy Ricciotti, who wanted to transcribe the many facets of this multifaceted artist in the walls.
Built on the ruins of an old castle, from which it takes its name, perched 63 metres above sea level, the cemetery offers a view sweeping from Italy to Cap-Martin: its dominant position makes it an absolutely spectacular belvedere, with a magnificent panorama of the city, Garavan Bay and the port. Famous writers such as Flaubert and Maupassant contemplated the coast from this cemetery, which is counted among the most beautiful in France.
The graves of Mentonese families stand alongside those of important foreigners: John Richard Green, an English historian; Alfred Woltmann, a German historian; William Webb Ellis, the inventor of rugby; Hans Georg Tersling, a Danish architect; Abel Glena and Alfred Marsang, architects from Menton; John Moggridge, a British botanist; Caroll of Carollton, one of the founders of the American hospital in Neuilly; and Prince Troubetzkoy, aide-de-camp to the Tsar.
Known to be one of the most beautiful ports on the Côte d’Azur, the port of Garavan offers a fabulous landscape and the most beautiful view of Old Menton.
In an idyllic setting between Monaco and Italy, the port of Garavan is the ideal place for yachtsmen. It is in fact 700 metres from Italy and less than two kilometres from the town centre of Menton. With its 770 berths, it is one of the largest ports on the Côte d’Azur and is the closest starting point to Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily.
Menton has many palaces dating back to the end of the 19th century. At that time, they welcomed a very wealthy clientele from all over the world, who came to Menton for its climate but also for its timeless beauty.
An association, The Circle of Rediscovered Palaces, still preserves this exceptional heritage. During your visit to Menton, you can admire these majestic Belle Époque-style facades. There are no less than 17 of them and among the most famous is the Grand Hotel de Venise or L'Orangeraie - Menton9, which dates back to the end of the 19th century. But also the Riviera Palace10, the Hôtel Royal Westminster11 or the Winter Palace12.
A historical location for those who used to winter in the cold months, favoured by the mildness of the climate, the town of Menton attracted numerous botanists as early as the 18th century, particularly Englishmen, who introduced tropical and subtropical species that adapted perfectly to the area.
As a legacy of this era, magnificent gardens sprang up all over the town. For example, Parc Départemental du Pian13 is a formidable three-hectare playground planted with centuries-old olive trees, laid out in terraces facing the sea. Note the park’s ecological management: sheep come here to graze every spring and the children love the miniature golf.
The Jardins Biovès14 offers a beautiful 800-metre walk lined with exotic species, sculptures and fountains. It is here that the citrus motifs and light gardens of the Lemon Festival stand out. In April, they host the Côte d’Azur Garden Festival and in December the Christmas markets.
The Jardins Elisée Reclus15, facing the sea, is the Zen garden par excellence. An unusual detail: a magnificent 15-metre-high ficus macrophylla over 100 years old can be found here.
Don’t miss La Citronneraie16, mostly planted with olive and lemon trees, which is home to an incomparable variety of citrus fruits and other famous hybrids such as the cedar main de bouddha or the kaffir lime. Over time, this private property has acquired a remarkable ornamental garden of tropical plants: mango trees, camphor trees, cedars. You will admire over 350 lemon, orange, mandarin and grapefruit trees, a natural triumph at the gates of the city.
At Orangeraie17, a magnificent garden of the former Grand Hôtel de Venise palace, you will only find orange, pomelo and bitter orange trees. Surrounding the former summer residence of the Princes of Monaco is the Carnolès Palace Jardin d'agrumes18, the largest citrus fruit collection in Europe, with no less than 137 different varieties, some of them very rare, such as the sour orange Bizzarria, 60 varieties of lemons and 400 plants.
Or Jardin exotique de Val Rahmeh19, characterised by its collection of tropical fruit trees, or Jardin Fontana Rosa20 , which looks like a fairy kingdom: you can walk among imaginative benches, pergolas, ponds and colourful ceramics, as well as a thousand-year-old olive grove with 530 plants.
Finally, Serre de la Madone21 is a triumph of nature, with terraced gardens overflowing with plants and cypresses, wisteria-covered porticoes and pools of water descending towards the sea to create a wonderful perspective effect.
Along the coast of the Menton area, you can access an incredible variety of beaches, suitable for all needs.
At the end of the avenue de Sospel, the town’s main artery, opposite the Casino, Plage du Casino22 is the beach par excellence. Supervised in season, accessible to all, with large pebbles and many restaurants available.
Plage du Marché23 it stretches from the Jean Cocteau Museum to the Casino de Menton. With a beautiful stretch of beach, its small pebbles will welcome bathers looking for more comfort. Families will appreciate the many activities that the little ones can engage in.
With its exceptional view of the old town, the mountains and the Italian coastline, Plage des Sablettes24 offers its gentle slope to families. It is the largest beach in Menton and its fine gravel mixed with sand is appreciated by the feet of the little ones, who will enjoy playing in the shallows. In addition, the presence of palm trees, pergolas and water fountains create beloved islands of coolness during the hottest hours. Nearby, cafés, restaurants and shops make it easy to organise your day as well as the presence of showers and toilets.
Also very similar is Plage Rondelli25, located before the port of Garavan in Menton: it is a small, sandy beach, very pleasant, ideal for families and with a magnificent view of the old town of Menton.
If you have a car at your disposal, we recommend trying out the numerous coves near the town of Menton, to guarantee you a moment of relaxation in a turquoise sea.
For example, Plage de Carnolès26 offers numerous coves that follow one another, sheltered from the waves. Controlled in summer, Carnolès beach is home to some famous beach restaurants and private lidos.
On the other hand, Plage du Buse27, in the bay of Cabbé, in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, is a small pebble beach, a magical and preserved place, far from the road and cars, that holds crystal-clear waters. The place is not easy to reach: access is only on foot from the station stairs.
Just one kilometre from Italy, Plage Hawaii28 retains a wild character. This narrow, pebbly beach is a favourite with lovers of tranquillity and fishermen. It is not, however, very suitable for families.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Since 1934, in the second half of February, Menton has hosted an internationally renowned event: the Lemon Festival.
Also called the Carnival of Menton, the event brings together 250,000 people every year. The corsos of Menton, or parades of citrus fruit floats, thus compete with the most beautiful carnivals in the world. A colourful and tasty event in which no less than 300 professionals work.
To meet the needs of the festival, 180 tonnes of citrus fruits are brought in from all over the world and 1,000,000 rubber bands are needed to bind the fruit and enable the elaborate visual creations to be made.
Every day since 1936, for the duration of the festival, the gardens of Boviès have hosted an exhibition of citrus sculptures, a display that gets more creative and surprising every year. And at nightfall, a mysterious and fascinating change of atmosphere transforms them into Gardens of Lights.
In addition, on the Promenade du Soleil, parades make Sundays vibrate to the rhythm of brass bands and folk groups that criss-cross the parade’s citrus floats.
Not to be missed are the corsos nocturnes on Thursdays, the night parades that wake up the city as soon as night falls. The parade of floats unfolds in a festive atmosphere to the rhythms and sounds of dances and music from around the world. And the evening ends under the fire of a magnificent fireworks display.
With its Mediterranean climate, Menton has become a renowned tourist resort, offering an excellent hotel scene.
Finding a hotel in the heart of the old town means experiencing its unique atmosphere from the inside: the medieval streets, sheltered from the warm sun all year round, are enchanting and invite you to stroll along the Provençal squares, in a maze of narrow streets cascading down to the sea, where the ochre and yellow façades are covered in light.
If, on the other hand, you prefer the bubbly beach life, you can look for accommodation along the bay to the west, where many hotels are located: here you will have direct access to the beaches for strolling around looking at the Italian coast, on the left.
If you are looking for breathtaking views and absolute tranquillity, then you should book accommodation on the heights of Menton. From here you have a sumptuous view over the bay, Italy to the east and the Monegasque coast to the west.
The town of Menton is located just 5 kilometres from the Italian border. The nearest airport is Nice Airport, which is 37 minutes from the city of Menton. Here you can then rent a car to explore the French Riviera.
Even those travelling by train will not have much difficulty: the station is located in the centre of Menton and is served by TGV, LGV and TER.
What's the weather at Menton? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Menton for the next few days.
Menton is located in the heart of the French Riviera, just a few kilometres from the Italian border.