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Menton, Alpes-Maritimes

The final town on the Riviera before France turns into Italy

featured in Towns & villages Updated

Warm ochre buildings, jumbled terracotta roofs, pink blossom trees and azure blue sea make Menton a picture-perfect town, the last one right before the Italian border.

With the sea on one side and the foothills of the Alps behind, it is claimed that you can ski in the mountains in the morning before sunbathing on the beach in the afternoon at certain times of year.

The old town is a labyrinth of charming alleyways, bell towers and churches, winding up towards the cemetery at the peak of the hill. Stroll up there for a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past and unrivalled views of the coastline.

Menton has the best of both worlds; the historic old town and all the hustle and bustle of a modern town. The main pedestrianised street is filled with shops, cafés and restaurants and the main road that runs along the seafront offers lots of places to eat and drink, as well as a large casino and nightclub. It has a strong Italian influence, which can be seen (and tasted) in the restaurants and food markets.

History & Culture in Menton

The stunningly pretty seaside resort of Menton grew popular with the British and the Russians in the late 19th century when the gentry came for its mild climate and fresh air. They created lush subtropical gardens and built Belle Epoque mansions among the citrus groves.

In their footsteps came artists like Monet and Jean Cocteau, indeed the town is now known as 'the town of art and history'.

Despite being nicknamed the 'Pearl of France', Menton has a strong Italianate feel and a medieval heart, with narrow alleyways once ruled by pirates towered over by church spires. Today, its cobbled streets are full of restaurants and pavement cafés bathing in the golden light reflected off the sea and the pastel coloured buildings.

Sights & Attractions in Menton

There are numerous museums and art galleries, including the famous Jean Cocteau Museum and his exquisite gallery in the nearby fort.

Notable buildings include the Basilique-Saint-Michael-Archange, a spectacular baroque church with tall bell tower. Spend an afternoon meandering through the many botanic gardens, olive and citrus groves, or head up to the old chateau cemetery, where there are some simply spectacular views of the coast as you wander among the headstones.

Beaches in Menton

A number of beaches - both public and private - lie along the seafront, backed by a wide promenade just perfect for an afternoon stroll. The pebbled beaches tend to be nicer the closer to the port you are, which also means that they get busier.

The headland by the port is home to a small park area with shady trees and a children's play area.

There are numerous beach clubs where you can rent deckchairs and parasols or have a long leisurely rosé lunch, or muck about in the water on the many water toys for hire.

Events in Menton

Daily markets provide fresh local produce, especially lemons, for which the town is famous (there is an annual two week Lemon Festival every February).

Things to do in Menton

With the sea on one side and the foothills of the Alps behind, it is claimed that sometimes you can ski in the mountains in the morning before sunbathing on the beach in the afternoon.

Walkers will find a great base in Menton; you can hike the final stretch of the GR52 to Sospel or visit one of the nearby mountain villages of Gorbio, Sainte-Agnes or Castellar, which are all linked by a network of trails that extend far into the Alps. Have a look at our walking routes.

Dining in Menton

You’ll not go hungry here.

Like everywhere on the Riviera you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to fresh seafood, and Menton’s Italian heritage and reputation for citrus-growing ensure that you’ll enjoy great cuisine even in the cheaper restaurants.

Head to Quai Bonaparte for some beautiful seafront restaurants; if you want to push the boat out then Mirazur is a must, not only is it the proud owner of two Michelin stars but it regularly features in the list of the world’s top 50 restaurants.

Nightlife in Menton

There is a rather grand casino in Menton, and a nightclub too, although one wouldn't go so far to say that Menton has a thumping nightlife. Head to nearby Monaco for the clubs and live music.

Where to stay in Menton

Menton has long been a tourist destination and so there is no shortage of well-established three star hotels; there are also some great campsites up in the hills behind the town - many of which are near staircases that shortcut through the streets and bring you directly to the beach.


Menton can easily be reached by train (direction Ventimille from Nice) or bus (no.100 from Nice), we advise against taking the car during summer as the main road gets extremely traffic-logged and parking is limited.


Map of the surrounding area