Menton, the last French town next to the Italian border, is considered one of the most beautiful places on the Côte d’Azur stretch where it counts Monaco, Nice, Cannes, and Antibes among its equally-famous neighbors. Known as The Pearl of France, Menton is also blessed with a milder climate than the rest of the French Riviera, an open secret that drew many northern Europeans to seek and bask in its climate for health and leisure.
Today’s Menton is a happy combination of gardens, beaches and seaport (“Paradise on Earth”) as well as a unique place where culture and nature blend together (“Town of Art and History”) to add to its popular monicker, “Town of the Lemon”. Like a modern town, it also has its share of discos, casino, theaters, bars and cafes, and has all kinds of water sports at the beaches.
Paradise on Earth
Menton is famous for its sun-kissed climate that compliments the growing of citrus fruits (tangerines, oranges), most notably the lemon which it is famous for. The largest collection of lemon trees in the whole of Europe is at the Jardin du Palais de Carnolès. Consequently, the town celebrates its famous Lemon Festival (February and March).
The town also has a sizeable collection of gardens all over which the visitor can feast on. There is the Jardin Serre de la Madone, the Jardin de Maria Serena, the exotic Jardin du Val Rahmeh, the Jardin Fontana Rosa, the Jardin des Colombières and the Jardin Bioves at the town center. It is no coincidence that Menton is a five-time winner as the best city of flowers in France.
Art and history
Aside from its lemons and gardens and its beaches, the town boasts medieval houses and buildings, art museums and galleries, churches and other baroque buildings (many are restored to their old glorious looks) all throughout. Menton offers the visitor his fill of the old city with its stone mosaics, narrow streets, ceramic murals, and other eye candy.
There is so much to explore, but one can start at the houses near St. Michel Church and proceed to discover the treasures at the Beaux Arts Museum (Palais Carnoles), the Modern Art Gallery (Palais de l’Europe), the famous Jean Cocteau Museum and Wedding Room all the way to Chapel de Pénitents Blancs on a hilltop.
The beaches at Menton are as famous and beautiful as those of its neighbors. There are private beaches all over, but there are just as many that are open to the public (Plage des Sablettes is popular). The activity is non-stop and all kinds of water sports can be had. There is also a casino that one can go to after sundown.
Throughout the year, there are other big events in town to look forward to. There is the Chamber Music Festival, Latin Sails, Soirees musicale de l’Annonciade, and the Arabian Thoroughbred Horse Show among others. Actually, there’s not a dull moment at Menton, The Pearl of France.