Categories: EuropeGeographyTravel

Travel Guide of Menton, Alpes-Maritimes, France

Menton is “The Lemon Festival Capital of the World”. Located in Alpes-Maritimes, France, but next to the border of Italy, it is in many ways more Italian than French. It has its own microclimate, generally milder than the rest of the French Riviera, and became in the late nineteenth century a place where Northern Europeans with TB came to either regain their health or to die. As a result its cemetery is filled with the graves of notable Englishmen, Germans, and Russians. The old town is largely pedestrianised, which adds to the charm of this sedate resort.

Nestled between the principality of Monaco and the Italian Riviera, in an amphitheater of mountains open to the sea, Menton is the first of the “Cities of Art and History” of the Côte d’Azur. Benefiting from a subtropical microclimate, seven exceptional gardens make it famous, hectares of green spaces, parks and urban gardens, hundreds of trees lining the streets and colorful flowerbeds everywhere in town: stroll around Chin is a feast for the eyes.

The excavations of the Balzi Rossi (Grimaldi caves), on the Italian border, attest to a human presence from the Upper Paleolithic.

The Via Julia Augusta (ancient Roman road which connected Ventimiglia to Nice -Cimiez and Rome), would cross Menton. We have never been able to identify archaeological traces in the city, even if we thought that it could follow rue Longue.

It is on the hill of Pepin, to the west of the present city, that the primitive agglomeration was undoubtedly grouped, around its castle founded under the impulse of the count of Ventimiglia. The Lordship of Puypin (Podium Pinum) fell Menton with that of the XIII century to Vento, family Genoese who built another castle: it gave birth to the current city. The first mention of the city dates fromJuly 21, 1262, in the peace treaty between Charles d’Anjou and Genoa. Its position at the limit of the Provencal Angevin county and the republic of Genoa – which then claimed Monaco as its western limit – makes it a relatively coveted position.

Acquired in 1346 by Charles Grimaldi of Monaco, Menton remained under the suzerainty of the Monegasque princes (cf. the list of sovereigns of Monaco) for five centuries, until 1848, when it proclaimed itself a Free City with its neighbor Roquebrune, placing under the protection of the King of Sardinia. Menton was never part of the historic County of Nice.

Menton was annexed to France during the Revolution and the First Empire and was then part of the Alpes-Maritimes department (which then included Monaco and Sanremo). It was part of the district of Sanremo.

The principality of Monaco was reconstituted in 1814, but passed in 1815 under the protectorate of the kings of Sardinia and the princes had to pay the feudal homage for Menton to these kings – in an anachronistic way (but not for Monaco itself).

1848 was the year of revolutions in Europe, Menton (like Roquebrune) seceded from the principality of Monaco with its neighbor. It is true that Prince Florestan I of Monaco persisted to collect tax on the export of lemons, the main resource of the city.

The two cities were then constituted in Free Cities, asked for the protection of the Kingdom of Sardinia and were administered de facto by the house of Savoy. These two free cities became French a year after the attachment of the County of Nice in 1861.

At the plebiscite organized that year, Menton voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining France. Consultation which was clearly led by the French and by the Italian Royal House (Savoie).

Napoleon III paid compensation in the amount of 4 million francs to Prince Charles III of Monaco for the territorial damage caused to the principality.

A8 Exit Menton. Follow signs for Centre-Ville.
Bas Corniche from Monaco or Italy (Ventimiglia)
Train from Monaco/Nice or Ventimiglia

Menton has a curious one way system, it is probably a good idea to park near the port and not attempt to drive anywhere else. Although the climb up to the cemeteries is steep on foot it is considerably better than attempting to drive it.

Menton is reasonably compact and most points of interest are within walking distance. Attractions such as the cemeteries and the churches are up steep hills and many steps however the views that can be gained are well worth the effort.

Being so close to the Italian border, one can literally walk to Italy. This is definitely more of a novelty than of practical use, as trips into Italy even to the nearby towns are far enough to be made either by rail or by road.

Places and monuments
The Bastion located on the port of Menton was built at sea, by the princes of Monaco, then as an advanced defense of the port in 1636. Today, it hosts one of the two museums in Menton dedicated to Jean Cocteau. A bust representing him is installed there, acquired by the municipality, and work of the sculptor Cyril de La Patellière (1989). Similar to the existing one, by the same author, in Villefranche-sur-Mer.
Town hall: the wedding hall was decorated in the 1950s by Jean Cocteau, which transformed it into a gigantic work of art. Barbara Hendricks, an honorary citizen of the city, married there.
The Palace of Europe, built in 1909 by architect Hans-Georg Tersling, is the city’s old kursal casino. With its imposing facade, it is one of the main buildings in the city center.
The covered market built in 1898 by Adrien Rey is remarkable for its polychromy of bricks and ceramics ordered from the Menton manufacturer Saïssi.
The Riviera is a former 300-room hotel built in 1898 by Abel Gléna and Alfred Auguste Marsang. The eclectic style building and its monumental design represent the typical architecture of a Belle Époque palace.
The Tempe villa in Pailla, designed by the Irish architect Eileen Gray and built from 1932. Still visible at 187 route de Castellar, it has been classified as a Historic Monument since 1990
The Prince of Wales hotel [ archive ] built in 1865 for the care of Prince of Wales Albert Édouard of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in order to ensure its protection during these winter stays in Menton
The Jean-Cocteau Museum – Séverin Wunderman Collection, inaugurated in November 2011, is a creation of the architect Rudy Ricciotti.
The Adhémar Hotel in Lantagnac.
The Pretti Hotel.
The building Glena, an example of the houses built in the early XX century on the Riviera with its painted frieze.
The house of Loredan-Larchey street, an example of the houses built in the early XX century on the Riviera with its frieze in sgraffito under the eaves.
The house built for Antoine Anfossi and his wife Thérèse Gibelli.

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Monument to the dead – 1939-1945 – Indochina (1946-1954) – AFN-Algeria (1954-1962),
Monument to the dead of the French Souvenir cemetery of Trabuquet square of the Marne,
Commemorative monument of the attachment of Menton to France,
Union Bridge monument, monument to the army of the Alps,
Memorial to Emile Biovès, lawyer, general councilor,
Monument to Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, novelist,
Memorial to Queen Victoria.

Religious buildings
The site of the Saint-Michel-Archange basilica, Place de la Conception, is a jewel of Baroque art from the Menton region. Built in 1619, it is the work of Genoese Lorenzo Lavagna. The facade of the square as well as the 2 bell towers were repainted in 1975 with paintings resembling those “of time”.
Annonciade monastery, André Tardieu cornice XVI century, enlarged XIX century with chapel XVIII century
Church of the Sacred Heart, avenue Edouard VII, built in 1910 in the Romanesque style.
Chapel of Mercy of the Penitent Blacks Promenade du Val de Menton, former Capuchin monastery XVII century.
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception or chapel of the White Penitents, Place de la Conception, built between 1680 and 1687, in the Baroque style.
Chapel of Our Lady of Carnolès, 5 rue Paul Morillot rebuilt XIV century XV century
Saint-Christophe chapel, avenue Pigautier, built in 1874 in neo-gothic style.
Chapelle Saint-Roch XV century, 23 St-Roch. The first procession known as the Saint-Roch vow took place in 1731 during an epidemic of smallpox.
Chapelle Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc, 114 promenade de Val de Carei.
Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima, avenue des Acacias.
Chapel of the Fine Arts Museum of the Palais Carnolès, corner of avenue Madone, avenue Florette.
Chapel house of the Virgin, 24 rue des sœurs Munet.

Saint-Vincent chapel, avenue Laurenti.
Chapelle Sainte-Anne Avenue Laurenti XVII century
Chapelle Saint-Jacques, Avenue porte de France built in 1687 in baroque style.
Saint-Laurent chapel, 2 rue Saint-Laurent built in 1882

Saint-Honoré Church, Sospel road built in 1822 in neo-Gothic style.
Chapelle Saint-Roman Lane Stadium of medieval origin, rebuilt in the XVII century classical style.

Other cults
The Russian Church – Orthodox Menton, 14 Rue Paul Morillot, built in 1892 by Danish architect Hans-Georg Tersling in a Russian style of the XVII century, reminds us that the Russian aristocratic colony was numerous the XIX century the region. It also served the Russian naval base at Villefranche.
Chapel Sainte-Alexandrine, the marine cemetery XIX century Byzantine style.
Saint-John’s Anglican Church, corner of Carnot Avenue, Verdun Avenue built in 1868
Scottish temple, 8 rue de la République old temple built around 1880
Reformed Church Temple, 26 rue de la République, inaugurated in 1868
Protestant Baptist temple, rue Albert- 1
Synagogue, Centennial Course
Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, 8 Avenue Rivièra.

Museums and art galleries
The city whose currency at the entrance of the town hall is Artium Civitas – Cité des Arts – has several museums and galleries:
Jean-Cocteau Museum – Séverin Wunderman Collection; currently closed due to storm flooding.
Bastion Museum, fitted out at the request of Jean Cocteau to receive his works;
City Hall wedding hall decorated by Jean Cocteau in 1957;
Museum of Fine Arts, installed at Palais Carnolès since 1961, former summer residence of the princes of Monaco. Since 1994, statues and sculptures of contemporary art have been exhibited in the gardens.
Musée de la préhistoire régionale constitué à partir des résultats de recherches entreprises autour de Menton, en particulier avec un moulage de l’Homme de Menton. Le musée comprend une section arts, traditions populaires et histoire locale;
Galerie d’art contemporain au palais de l’Europe.

Take a tour of the old town and go to the Italian border just to admire the magnificent view of the facades of the old town. Walk on the seaside and go to the end in the direction of Roquebrune and Cap Martin, go around the Cape on foot and return through the private domain of the Cape and its villas of billionaires. On the way back, do not deprive yourself of looking at the bay of the tip of the cape, this is where the view of Menton is the prettiest with that in the other direction that you can have of the Garavan district. For the brave, climb to the top of the Cradle, this mountain in the foreground behind Menton is magical, and the point of view from the top, on the town in miniature below is breathtaking. Stroll through the pedestrian street with all its small shops.

Lemon Festival every year in February. – This is an opportunity to attend parades of floats composed exclusively of lemons and oranges, according to a defined theme (in 2013: Around the world in 80 days, Menton, the secret stopover). There is also a presentation of sculptures, made with the same fruits and on the same theme in the Biovès gardens.

Festival de Musique de Menton is a music festival running through the last day of July to the middle of August. The music is primary classical, with artist and symphony orchestras from all over the world.

Sentier Le Corbusier is a path starting just west of the city of Menton, leading around Cap Martin, with nice views of the sea, and possibilities to go down to beaches or rocks next to the sea. The path continues all the way to Monaco, although the path doesn’t have that much of a view after the Roquebrune-Cap Martin train station.

Citrus products
Flea market
In Ventimiglia (Italy), about 7–10 km east of Menton, a market is held every Friday which is located around the main park and the roads by the Mediterrean sea. The vast majority of stalls sell clothes.

There are numerous good restaurants in the Old Town and down towards the port, which offer good value for money. Expect to pay €15-€20 for the cheapest three course meal set menu. Higher priced menus are, of course, also available. In Menton, there is no shortage of restaurants. And for a city on the French Riviera, there are almost no tourist traps. Lots of inexpensive establishments. Others, of higher standing. To advise: “the Little Prince”. Very good and not very expensive for the quality of the menu.

Le Balico, Place aux Herbes in the Old Town. Closed Tuesday. Local Menton Cuisine – menus €20-€50 plus à la carte.
Le Nautique, Quai de Monléon by the port. Closed Sunday evening and all day Monday. Seafood speciality – menus €20-€50 plus à la carte.

McDonalds 19 Place Georges Clémence. Open everyday 08:00-23:00. Free Wi-Fi is available, just get a decent seat inside a 15m radius.

Behind Menton in the village of Castillon is the “Mare Nostrum” microbrewery. A rather yuppie sort of place but the beer is very good.

If you are a party animal, Menton is not the place to go out. As a nightclub, you have the choice between the Casino nightclub if you manage to pass the entrance and, just opposite, the RHR: nice little club where all the young people of Menton meet on weekends. Two bars remain open until one or two in the morning; the Big Boss and especially the Place. Nice. In summer, some private beaches organize evenings on the beach which are very popular with the locals. Fortunately, the boxes of Bordighera, Sanremo, Monaco and Nice are not far away.

Tags: France