Menton, the Pearl of France, is something you can’t miss on the French Riviera. This charming town has something for everyone: lovely beaches, a pleasant climate, good food, and so on. Menton often has the phrase the pearl of France because once you discover Menton, it is a place you would go back to again and again. A destination for those who want to enjoy the French Riviera without the crowds. And it is just a short trip from Monaco and Nice.
Where is Menton?
Menton lies on the border with Italy. You can call me ignorant I had never heard of Menton before. However, while searching for places to visit during my trip to Monaco, a beautiful image of Menton popped up on my screen that truly captured my attention.
The insisting image changed my plan, and with little time and a crammed itinerary, I needed to get rid of places and set Menton on the list. And believe it or not, changing my itinerary was worth it. A trip to Menton was one of the best and most unforgettable days during my trip to Cote d’Azur. This charming seaside town should be on the list if visiting the French Riviera.
Is it worth a trip?
Absolutely! Every minute you spend here is genuinely worth it. Moreover, Menton has an amount of sunshine due to its unique location between the mountains and the sea. The area has mild winters and scorching summers, I was here in April, and it was sweltering heat. You can visit Menton any time of the year, particularly in the winter, if you are looking for warmer destinations.
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Menton is still relatively unknown many people did not hear about it. I would not know about this place if I did not see the picture because its location is right on the border with Ventimiglia, Italy; you will hear a lot of Italians. Although it is France, you can feel the Italian atmosphere. So for the gastronome, Menton is the place to be for France and Italian delicacies.
Additionally, if you have more time, you could always visit Italy, as these were just a short ride by train or bus. Then it is better to stay overnight. That was my plan in the first place, I was about to check hotels, but I didn’t want to miss my flight home. There is plenty of accommodation in Menton if you check on Booking.com.
Menton is known for its lemon.
That is what I liked about France because every region has its specialty. Menton not only got the name the pearl of France but is also known as the city of lemons. Because of its essential uniformity to the local climate, lemon trees grow in this area.
The inhabitants are incredibly proud of their lemons. And so amazing how they produced products made from lemons, such as soap, oil, mustard, jam, alcohol, and much more.
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If you hear the story about the lemons in Menton, the Arabs brought this tree to Europe. Now there are large amounts of lemons that come onto the market every year. In fact, the lemon festival takes place every year, which attracts more visitors to the city. So this would be the best time to visit Menton and be part of it.
How to get to Menton from Nice
I’m staying in Nice and making a day trip to Menton. Going by public transport is super easy and cheap! You can choose between the train and the bus, and make sure to have a window seat because the views on the way to Menton were superb. I hopped on the bus from Nice and came back by train.
Nice – Menton by Train
You can take the train to Menton at Nice Ville (center) station, and for the schedule, check the official website of the SCNF train. The train tickets can be booked online or purchased at the station’s counter or machine. It will cost 5.60 euros one way and takes more than half an hour to Menton.
Bus from Nice to Menton.
Going by bus costs only 1.50 euros, but getting to Menton takes much longer. The bus ticket can be bought onboard by the driver. To take the bus – you must go to Port Lympia. You need bus 100, the same bus that goes to Monaco. Check the ZOU! buses website for the schedule.
Getting around Menton
Menton is not that big, and walking is the best thing you can do. I spent all day wandering around, as I found it easy to see everything on foot. Wear your best shoes for walking; rubber shoes are good as long as they are comfortable on your feet.
And for people who don’t want to walk, an urban shuttle goes around the city. I haven’t used it, so it is better to ask the visitors center for further information about this shuttle.
Discover things unexpected
Sometimes going on a little bit of adventure can’t harm.
I took the bus to Menton from Nice and got off at the final stop (bus station). Then I cross the street and walk towards the hillside. I saw this beautiful building perch on the mountain and wanted to see it close by, but it seemed private and off for visitors. To go up there, I have to take the staircase behind a residential area called Escalier des Orangers. But it seemed a never-ending step. So while I continued climbing, I arrived at a lemon plantation. So getting a bit out of track was worth it, and just a short walk from the city center.
If you arrive in Menton by train or bus, the station is just a short walk to the old town and the beach. The visitor center in Menton is along the main road, Avenue Boyer. If you need information or a city map, it is sensible to get there before noon because they are closed during lunchtime. However, you can get the city map outside the rack, which is free to use.
What to See and Do in Menton?
There’s a lot to see and do in Menton, like the beaches, for example – you need at least one more day. But you can see most of the tourist sights in one day. Below I have set the following to my itinerary, but make your plan as you wish.
Bioves Gardens (Jardins Bioves)
These are the first thing you will find if coming from the station. The Bioves Garden stretches along the main street in the center at Avenue Boyer. Here they will take place the major outdoor events in Menton. It is an attractive park with beautiful flowers, trees, and fountains. These can be ideal spots to relax after a long day of walking where you find the benches. And on both sides of the street, you will find restaurants and cafes.
Strolling at the waterfront (Promenade du Soleil)
If you come from Bioves Garden, you will visit the waterfront and beach area. Besides the beautiful old town, Menton has a stunning promenade built for walking or for other activities. You can take your time because it is a place for a pleasant walk where you can truly enjoy the views on both sides. On the right are the sea and restaurants with outdoor sittings for snacks and lunch, and on the left are the beautiful vistas of the old town.
Walk by Jean Cocteau Museum
I am not really into museums, but the elegant architecture and the location on the seafront are beautiful. With its striking design, you already notice the museum during your walk on the promenade. Walking by this building is worth it, even if you are not interested in going inside. The museum was closed for about two years due to a sea flood and re-opened in 2021. Inside you will find Jean Cocteau’s work. It has an engaging exhibition showing portion of different films he was involved in and stage sets he designed. The entrance fee is 5 euros; if you visit on the first Sunday of the month, it is free.
Enjoy the Beach time in Menton
As part of the French Riviera, and thanks to the Mediterranean’s unique micro-climate, Menton’s temperature is always a couple of degrees warmer than neighboring resorts. Menton has sweltering summers and mild winters. The city has kilometers-long beaches, which are less busy than Nice.
But the only downside of beaches on the south coast of France is pebbles, and some beaches in Menton are just the same. Barefoot walking isn’t nifty, and you need an aqua shoe for swimming. A lovely sandy shore is difficult to find, but some resorts have private sandy beaches for their guests.
The Market Hall (Le Marche des Halles)
If you love markets as I do, this would be the place to visit in Menton. A bummer that it was already closed when I got there; I missed the scenes inside. The market hall is located near the waterfront. One that you can’t miss because it has a fascinating structure. At first, I didn’t know it was a market; I only found out afterward.
The market hall is an attraction in itself, the bell tower era dated from 1898, but it doesn’t look like an old building. It is, in fact, a beautiful building, and you can walk around it to look at the architecture and decorative elements. The market opening hour is from 08:00 – 13:00.
Roaming the old town of Menton
The historic town of Menton has an exceptional character, surrounded by impressive architectural styles. Getting lost here for hours is easy, and anywhere you see nothing but all colorful houses. It is such an exciting place to wander. Passing through alleys, stairs, and tunnels, you feel alone as you don’t meet anyone. This shows beyond doubt that Menton isn’t known to everyone yet.
Nevertheless, like most old towns in France, Menton’s historical center is situated on a hilly part that elongates to the city port. So it is less friendly for travelers with health difficulties. Still, you can thoroughly enjoy the views without ascending to the hillside. And the most part is only for pedestrians, making it easy for everyone. The only downside is that you sometimes have to climb, but worth the effort.
Saint Michel Basilica
Due to the location on top of the hill overlooking the old town and the port, the baroque tower is visible everywhere. It is a short climb from the main shopping area but worth every step you make. However, as I already mentioned, the historic town of Menton is on a hilly part.
So travelers with mobility issues will have difficulty seeing some of the sites. You can reach the Basilica either by climbing the steps from the promenade beside the old Menton port or by mounting the sloping lanes of the historic city. The effort gives an excellent view of the promenade and coastal area.
Lemon Souvenir Shopping
Very, very tempting to walk through the old town’s shopping street where you can’t avoid the lemon shops. They’re so unique and very colorful, so amazing to see. Remember, Menton is a city of lemons. It is bewildering that you will find all kinds of products made from lemons. The best souvenir you can get from here is to choose one of the many products – the best recollection from Menton. Have you been to Menton? Let me know what you think about it.