•Alpes-Maritimes (06500) • Population: 29,141 • Altitude: 16 m
Menton is a large and dynamic seaside town. The entrance to Menton by car from the A8 autoroute comes down the Vallée du Careï and into town along north-south boulevard of lawn, flowers and shade trees,the Jardins Biovès. At the bottom, the coastal road comes into town from the west along the Baie du Soleil, runs around the old port and curves past the Baie de Garavan towards Italy.
The town is full of old buildings, beautifully restored. A good example being the colorful buildings around the Place Ardoino, including the Hotel de Ville (town hall) [photo].
The old town, le Vieux Menton, has an active pedestrian area, with the long Rue St Michel running the length of it and the Rue Piéta joining. Full of shops of all sorts and terrace cafés - although the rest of the town doesn't really lack for these amenities either.
The real heart of le Vieux Menton for us is the Medieval style buildings grouped around the Eglise St Michel and the Chapel de Pénitents Blancs at the top of the hill. Viewed from the sea front at the east, this area has the appearance of a hilltop perched village. The streets are narrow, with long step-streets and many very colorful old buildings.
If you get tired of wandering the streets or general sightseeing, there are tons of things to do in Menton, including museums, gardens, frequent special events (such as the February Lemon Festival), not to menton the seaside and beach activities. And when the sun is well down, there's a rather grand casino along the seaside near the center of Menton. Perhaps not as grand as the one in Monaco, but we suspect you could loose your money just as fast here as there.
There's enough to see and do in Menton, even for casual touristing during non-festival time, that you should plan a couple of days or more. With easy access to several picturesque mountain villages, as well as the easy train connections along the coast, this would be an excellent base for a long stay.
Beached line the seaside on both sides of the town. The majority are to the west, towards Cap Martin. The handiest is probably the Plage des Sablettes at the feet of the old town [photos-11,12].
There are nearly a dozen private beaches in Menton, where you rent deck lounges and have bar service and a handy restaurant for lunch. In spite of the many private beach areas, there are many free beaches (such as the Plage des Sablettes), and the entire beach front along the water is open to public access.
Robert Lewis Stevenson came to Menton in November 1873 to recover from a collapse. He stayed until April of the next year.
History of Menton
The first primitive habitation was grouped around a chateau on the hill of Pépin, west of the current town. In the 13th century the family of Puypin (Podium Pinum) bought the domain from the Genoise family of Vento and built a chateau – that gave birth to the town of Menton.
Menton was acquired in 1346 by Grimaldi of Monaco, and remained in their possession until 1848, when it proclamed itself a Ville Libre and was put under the protection of the King of Sardinia. In 1860, the town voted to become part of France.
Tel : 04 92 41 76 76; Fax: 04 92 41 76 78
The Office de Tourisme is about three blocks north of the seaside, along the park-like Ave Boyer, beside the Jardins Biovès. The staff is very helpful, even having a user's comments/suggestions form.
Every Fri - Brocante
Daily - Marché Couvert (covered market), les Halles. Fresh produce; clothes on Sat.
Every Sat - Marché du Bastion, quai napoléon II
Daily - Marché du Carei, promenade du Maréchal Leclerc.
2nd Sun - Brocante, Mail du Bastion
Every Mar - Fête de Citron - parades, fireworks
Every Sat - Mai Musical Concertes - Jeunes Artistes Musiciens
Every Aug - Festival International de Musique de Menton - Chambre Music
Le Jardin d'Agrumes du Palais Carnoles
- Also a museum.
- Location: 3 Ave de la Madone.
- Open: daily, 10h-12h, 14h-18h
- Closed: Tue and holidays
- Entry: free. Guided visit 5 euros.
- Contains the largest collection of citrus trees in Europe, including orange, lemon, clementine, grapefruit, mandarin, and kumquat. Decorated with contemporary sculptures since 1994. Located in the old summer residence of the Princes of Monaco
Jardin des Colombières
- Private - visits possible via Office de Tourisme or Service du Patrimoine.
- Location: Route des Colombières
- An estate overlooking the Mediterranean, with small picturesque buildings, cypress and olive trees, local flora.
- Location: Ave Blasco Ibanez
- Open: Never
- Closed: Always
- Created in the 20's by Blasco Ibanez, Fontana Rosa was a garden of Spanish style ceramics dedicated to the memory of the Grand Writers. It is still listed as "closed for renovation", but from our peeks through the windows, it's just a ruin at the end of its day.
Hanbury Botanic Gardens
- Location: 43, C.so Montecarlo - La Mortola; 18039 Ventimiglia - Italy;
- Begun in 1867 by Sir Thomas Hanbury, holidaying on the Côte d'Azur. The botanical gardens were created with the help of different expert botanists and pharmacologists, with an early emphasis on pharmaceutical plants.
Includes the Japanese Garden, the Australian Forest, succulent plants, the Garden of Perfumes, the collection of Roses. The entire ensemble is kept in a natural environment that encourages the complete biological cycle.
Le Jardin de Maria Serena
- Guided visits only, by rendez-vous.
- Location: Promenade Reine Astrid
- Entry: 5 euros
- Tropical and subtropical plants, including a rare dradon tgree from the Canary Islands, and a large collection of palm trees and cycas.
Le Parc du Pian
- Location: Bvd de Garavan.
- Open: daily
- Entry: free
- A large open park with over 500 ancient olive trees, some over 1000 year old, arranged in a series of terraces, with a view of the sea through the trees. The Parc du Pian is a public garden traditionally used for Sunday strolls by the people of Menton; a good place for kids' parties and picnicking, with a nearby mini-golf.
La Serre de la madone
- Guided visits only.
- Location: 74 route de Gorbio.
- Open: Botanical visit: 15h00 daily except Mon by a gardner.
- Historical visit: 20 Feb - 30 Apr, Fridays 9h30; 1 May - 31 Oct, daily except Mon, 9h30.
- Forest Flora: by reservation only, 22 Feb, 21 Mar, 11 Apr, 9h00-12h00.
- Entry: 8 euros
- Designed between 1919 and 1939 by Major Lawrence Johnston, designer of the English garden of Hidcote Manor. Contains an exceptional botanical collection, some now the only remaining species in the world. Also a remarkable example of landscape architecture, with ponds and fountains to help create the calm atmosphere. Classified in 1990 as an historical monument.
Square des Etats Unis
- Location: 29 Ave Carnot
- Open: daily
- Entry: free
- A contemporary garden, with botanical descriptions of the trees and leaves. It's also a place of Sunday strolls and shady resting.
Le Jardin botanique exotique du Val Rahmeh
- Location: Ave St Jacques
- Open: Daily. Apr-Sept 10h-12h30, 15h-18h; Oct-Mar 10h-12h30, 14h-17h.
- Closed: Tuesdays
- Entry: 4 euros
- Specialized in the Solanaceae and Labiatae, with many tropical and subtropical plants and edible plants (kiwis, avocados, bananas, etc.).
Fun - Amusement - Kids
Mini-Golf du Parc de loisirs Koaland
- Location: Ave de la Madone
- Tel: 0492 100 040
Mini-Golf du Pian
- Location: 9 av Blasco-Ibanez
- Tel: 0493 577 693
• GPS: 43.786846, 7.481666
IGN (1/25,000) #3742 OT "Nice-Menton"
Menton is in the very southeast corner of France, so you can hike a long way from here.
About 1500 m east of the center, the GR52 begins by the Menton-Garavan railway station. The GR52 goes north, following the French side of the mountains along the frontier, to Sospel, about 15 km. Much further north it passes the Cime du Diable at 2436 m altitude on its way to the Vallée des Merveilles in the Mercantour.
The GR51 (Balcony of the Cote d'Azur) begins about 3 km north of the Menton-Garavan station, branching west from the GR52.
There are two other PR trails that go more directly north from Menton to Castellar where the GR51 passes. The most direct is from Les Ciappes at the northern edge of Menton. A bit to the east, a trail from the cemetery goes north along the ridge past La Cell and Le Badusset. Both of these trails follow roads much of the way.
A bit to the west of the center, at Le Borrigo, a PR trails goes northwest to St Agnes. A second trail, beginning about 500 m up the road from Le Borrigo, takes a different route to St Agnes.
Les Bateaux de la French Riviera
Boat trips between Menton and towns along the coast (?). Apparently telephone only; no website.
Location: Quai Napoleon III
Tel: 0493 355 172
Menton is on the main rail line [map], with frequent service to towns across the South of France, Paris and Italy. More information is given on Beyond's Travel - Rail Travel Planning page.
Buses run frequently between the Nice airport and Monaco and Menton (Nice Airport Travel )
Separate bus routes connect Menton with these nearby interior towns and villages: Gorbio; Saint Agnes; Les Cabrolles; Castillon - Sospel; Castellar; Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - Beausoleil - Monaco.
Boat cruises from Menton are available for Monaco; Monaco, with bus tour; French Riviera; Italian Riviera
Les Bateaux de la French Riviera
Phone: 0493 355 172
Address: Quai Napoleon III, Menton.
The Petit Train de Menton has a 30 minute, 7 km tour of the town. Price: 6 euros; kids 3 euros.