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Menton

  • Tucked away in a corner of southeast France, nestling the Italian border, Menton is a picturesque French Riviera town nicknamed "la perle de la France" (the pearl of France). It is famous for its gardens and its fragrant lemon, orange and tangerine groves; indeed it is also known as the "city of citrus", and the locals celebrate by paying tribute to the humble lemon, during a festival that takes place ...
    © 4pix / 123RF
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination France

Tucked away in a corner of southeast France, nestling the Italian border, Menton is a picturesque French Riviera town nicknamed "la perle de la France" (the pearl of France). It is famous for its gardens and its fragrant lemon, orange and tangerine groves; indeed it is also known as the "city of citrus", and the locals celebrate by paying tribute to the humble lemon, during a festival that takes place each February. From the old town to the gardens, the local markets and the beaches, there's plenty to see and do in this delightful French town.

Menton: what to do?

Take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea! You are after all on the French Riviera. There are many beaches in Menton and surrounds, including two that are dog-friendly so Fido needn't miss out on the fun. Most beaches lie west of Menton, towards Cap Martin. The Plage des Sablettes is probably the most popular, due to its proximity to the old town. Go shopping and bag yourself a bargain at Menton's markets. The historic covered market, located between the old port and the old town, dates back to the late 19th century and is open every day. Just across the border in Ventimiglia (a few miles east of Menton), the Friday flea market is also very popular.

Get your bearings by exploring the charming old town; with its narrow streets and quaint houses and lovingly restored buildings, it is the historical heart of Menton. Don't miss the baroque beauty of the Basilique Saint Michel and the Chappelle des Pénitents Blancs. Duck in and out of the boutiques and cafés, before visiting the Vieux Château cemetery at the top of the hill, the Hôtel de Ville (the Salle des Mariages features murals by Jean Cocteau), or, for nature lovers, the town's many gardens. From exotic plants at Val Rameh Garden, to the hillside Serre de la Madone Garden Museum, Menton's gardens are well worth a visit.

  • Lovely weather all year round (mild winters)
  • Charming old town
  • A handy base to explore other villages in the region
  • The abundance of beautiful gardens
  • Gets very crowded in summer
  • Driving and parking notoriously difficult

Reminders

No need to hire a car while in Menton as the old town is largely pedestrianised. (Plus, outside of this, many streets are frustratingly one way only!) Some tourist attractions are only reached after climbing many steps so wear your most comfortable walking shoes.

To avoid

Like other places on the French Riviera, Menton gets very crowded in the height of summer. Opt for the shoulder seasons of May and September when the visitors are fewer but the weather still agreeable.

Menton: what to eat?

Menton is famous for its citrus production, so get your hands on some delicious oranges, mandarins and lemons (the latter, known as the "Menton Lemon", has a very specific taste). As Menton is a seaside town, the fish and seafood are recommended; the restaurants at the Old Port work with the local fishermen, so you're guaranteed a fresh and delicious 'catch of the day'.

Menton: what to buy?

Citrus products plus any bargains found at one of Menton's many markets.

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