Menton: A Hidden Seaside Treasure on the French Riviera

Greetings dear readers and friends. I’m very happy to bring you another guest post from J. Christina of Scribbles and Smiles blog fame. You may recall her lovely last post, Gorbio: A Perched Medieval Village in the Alpes-Martimes, that was featured a few weeks back. Well, I love this post and I certainly love this area of the French Riviera. A big “merci” to J. Christina for sharing with us her travels to beautiful Menton.

Menton is a commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France.  It’s the last major town before leaving the French Riviera, wedged in-between the French-Italian border. It’s a place where you can tickle the turquoise sea, or enjoy the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Whether you call it the Côte d’Azur or the French Riviera, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and sophisticated regions in the world.

Some call this place “the Pearl of the Alps”. It’s a storybook setting, a hidden seaside treasure, that is just far enough away from the playground of the rich and famous – to enjoy this Franco-Italian Riviera destination.

Menton boasts 316 days of endless sunshine, “but who’s counting?” all producing a microclimate favorable for growing the town’s trademark aromatic and sweet Menton lemons. It is no wonder, this is where the Fête du Citron is held every February, where Menton welcomes thousands for a grand festival of fireworks, performances, and parades in celebration.

There’s nothing like sitting on the Promenade du Soleil watching the sparkling sea in the intense sunshine, cascading shadows off the ochre and pink facades. Or, simply watching a magnificent orange sunset in the distance. If the breathtaking landscape wasn’t enough, there’s so much history and culture to explore in this enchanting seascape, with its confluence of French and Italian cultures.

Basilica of St. Michael.

A must-see is The Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, from 1619, a minor basilica since 1999. Lying at its feet is the Grimaldi coat of arms, all inlaid with white and grey pebbles from Menton’s beaches. And, for a final hurrah, climb the majestic multi-level yellow staircase up and past St. Michael, for a magnificent view over Menton – with storybook pastel houses, and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.

Grimaldi coat of arms.

For more astonishing Baroque architecture, stop in at the Chapel of the Conception, which once belonged to the Order of the White Penitent. While down by the sea, explore the Musée Jean Cocteau, exhibiting the world’s largest collection of works, by the most multifaceted artist of the 20th century. Squeezed between St. Michael and the seafront, shop the historic 1898, Belle Époque covered Marché; that sells local and specialty items of the region.

Discover the renowned gardens, some public, others private, where the Alpes-Maritimes climate generates a variety of exotic flora, not grown in other regions of Europe. Enjoy the historic gardens, e.g. the Jardin de La Serre Madone, with plants from exotic lands, or the Jardins du Palais Carnolès, containing the largest citrus collection in Europe. For the intrepid traveler, explore the many gardens that are hidden gems, growing betwixt and between the sloping terraces of citrus groves.

Menton at night.

In the heart of quaint Menton, visit the Place aux Herbes, where Menton commemorates American and Canadian forces for liberating the town from German occupation in 1944, during World War II.  Taking nearly ten years of perseverance and dedication- Menton rebuilt and repaired the damage in this idyllic seaside town.

There are many hidden treasures and tucked away villages, like Menton, scattered along the Côte d’Azur just waiting to be explored.

Transportation: bus #100-1.50€.

Menton Tourism

J. Christina is the author and owner of Scribbles and Smiles. Through her blog, she shares stories of the wonderful discoveries she’s made on her European travels. J. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Mr. Christie is right on board with their travel jaunts around the world sharing in their blogging endeavor. You can sign-up to receive email updates via her blog, and you can also find Scribbles and Smiles on social media.

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