So you are planning your French Riviera Itinerary on your own and wondering whether Menton should be on your list or not. In this post, I am going to share all the Things To do in Menton France so that you can ultimately decide whether this should be in your Itinerary.
I kept Nice as my base for four days around to cover these places instead of specifically staying in Menton. More about that is going to be shared below.
Nestled on the southeastern coast of France, just a stone’s throw away from the Italian border lies Menton – a hidden gem of the French Riviera.
With its picturesque location between mountains and sea, this charming town has a rich history dating back to ancient times. As I first set foot in Menton, I was immediately captivated by its unique blend of French and Italian influences.
A little bit about Menton
Menton’s history is as fascinating as its location. It was once part of Italy before becoming part of France in 1860. This cross-cultural heritage is evident in every aspect of life here – from the architecture to the cuisine.
Despite being overshadowed by its more famous neighbors like Nice and Monaco, Menton has managed to retain its authentic charm and remains relatively untouched by mass tourism.
Why you should visit Menton?
For starters, it offers a quieter alternative to other bustling towns along the French Riviera. The pace here is slower, allowing visitors to truly immerse themselves in the local culture and experience an authentic slice of Mediterranean life.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation on pristine beaches or exploring centuries-old streets lined with colorful buildings, Menton has something for everyone.
Where is Menton?
Menton is a town located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France, near the border with Italy.
Quick Map: What to do in Menton France
What to do in Menton? Top Things to Do in Menton France
So finally, let me share about all the things which you can do in Menton France. If you are only taking a Day Trip from Nice you can decide which one you want to include in your Itinerary.
Explore the Old Town of Menton and its charming streets
One cannot visit Menton without taking a stroll through its enchanting Old Town. As I wandered through narrow cobblestone streets lined with pastel-colored buildings adorned with vibrant flower boxes, I felt like I had stepped back in time.
The heart of Old Town is Place aux Herbes – a lively square filled with cafes spilling out onto terraces shaded by ancient plane trees. It’s an ideal spot for people-watching while sipping on a café au lait or enjoying some local delicacies such as socca (a savory chickpea pancake) or pissaladière (a traditional onion tart).
Another must-visit street in the Old Town is Rue Saint-Michel. This charming pedestrian street is lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and quaint cafes. As I meandered through its winding path, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the unique artisanal crafts and locally made products on display.
Visit the Basilica of Saint-Michel-Archange, a stunning example of Baroque architecture
One of Menton’s most iconic landmarks is the Basilica of Saint-Michel-Archange. This magnificent church stands proudly atop a hill overlooking the town and offers breathtaking views of both the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding mountains.
The basilica dates back to the 17th century and is a prime example of Baroque architecture. Its ornate facade features intricate carvings and statues that tell biblical stories. Stepping inside, I was immediately struck by its grandeur – soaring ceilings adorned with frescoes, gilded altars, and beautifully crafted stained glass windows.
As I explored further, I discovered hidden gems within the basilica such as chapels dedicated to various saints and an impressive organ that fills the space with heavenly music during special occasions.
Discover the Musée Jean Cocteau, a museum dedicated to the famous French artist
Menton has long been associated with artists seeking inspiration from its natural beauty. One such artist who found solace in this idyllic town was Jean Cocteau – a renowned French poet, writer, filmmaker, and visual artist.
The Musée Jean Cocteau pays homage to this creative genius by showcasing his works in various mediums including paintings, drawings, ceramics, tapestries, films,and more.The museum itself is an architectural masterpiece designed by Rudy Ricciotti – a contemporary architect known for his innovative use of materials.
As I wandered through each gallery room filled with Cocteau’s creations, I couldn’t help but be moved by the artist’s ability to capture the essence of Menton and its surroundings. His unique style, characterized by fluid lines and dreamlike imagery, perfectly encapsulates the town’s ethereal beauty.
Stroll through the Jardin Serre de la Madone, a botanical garden with a unique collection of plants
For nature lovers and gardening enthusiasts, a visit to Jardin Serre de la Madone is an absolute must. This hidden oasis is tucked away in the hills above Menton and offers a tranquil escape from the bustling town below.
Designed by Lawrence Johnston – the same landscape architect behind England’s famous Hidcote Manor Garden – Jardin Serre de la Madone boasts an impressive collection of rare and exotic plants from around the world. As I wandered through its meticulously manicured pathways, I marveled at towering palm trees, vibrant blooming flowers, and fragrant citrus groves.
One particular highlight was stumbling upon a hidden waterfall cascading down moss-covered rocks – a serene spot that seemed straight out of a fairytale. The garden also features several terraces offering panoramic views of Menton and beyond.
Enjoy stunning views from Promenade du Soleil, a scenic coastal walkway
If you’re looking for breathtaking views along with some gentle exercise, look no further than Promenade du Soleil – Menton’s picturesque coastal walkway that stretches for miles along the Mediterranean Sea.
Starting near Old Town and winding its way along cliffs overlooking azure waters, the promenade offers uninterrupted vistas of sparkling sea on one side, and charming pastel-colored buildings on another. As I strolled along this scenic path,I couldn’t help but feel invigorated by the salty sea breeze caressing my face, and the warm sun kissing my skin.
For those seeking even more adventure, the promenade continues all the way to neighboring towns like Roquebrune-Cap-Martin or even Monaco. Whether you choose to walk, jog,or simply sit on one of the many benches along the way, the Promenade du Soleil is a perfect spot to soak in Menton’s natural beauty.
Relax on the beaches of Menton, including the popular Plage des Sablettes
No visit to Menton would be complete without spending some time basking in the sun and enjoying the crystal-clear waters of its beautiful beaches. While there are several options to choose from, Plage des Sablettes stands out as a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Located just a short walk from Old Town, this sandy beach offers all the amenities one could desire – sun loungers, umbrellas,and beachside cafes serving refreshing drinks and delicious snacks. As I settled onto my rented lounger, I couldn’t help but marvel at how pristine and inviting the water looked.
Whether you prefer swimming, lounging under an umbrella with a good book, or building sandcastles with your family, the Plage des Sablettes has something for everyone. It’s no wonder that this beach has earned Blue Flag status – an international recognition for its cleanliness and environmental sustainability.
Taste local cuisine, including famous Menton lemon and seafood dishes
When it comes to culinary delights, Menton does not disappoint. The town’s unique location between mountains and sea provides an abundance of fresh ingredients that are celebrated in local cuisine. One cannot talk about Menton without mentioning its most famous export – lemons!
Menton lemons are renowned for their vibrant yellow color, intense fragrance,and tangy flavor. They’re used in various dishes, such as tarte au citron (lemon tart), salade niçoise (Nicoise salad), and even cocktails like limoncello.
Seafood lovers will also be in for a treat, as Menton’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea means an abundance of fresh catches.I highly recommend trying the local specialty – bouillabaisse,a traditional Provençal fish stew bursting with flavors of garlic,tomatoes,and fragrant herbs.
Visit the weekly market in Menton, offering fresh produce and local crafts
For a true taste of Menton’s vibrant culture and community spirit, make sure to visit its lively weekly market. Held every Tuesday and Saturday morning in Place Saint-Roch, this bustling market is a feast for the senses.
As I made my way through rows of colorful stalls,I was greeted by an array of sights, sounds,and smells. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables piled high, artisanal cheeses wafting their distinct aromas, homemade jams glistening under the sun, and vibrant flowers adding pops of color to every corner.
The market is not just about food; it’s also a treasure trove for those seeking unique souvenirs or locally made crafts. From handmade soaps and ceramics to intricate lacework and woven baskets, the variety on offer is truly impressive. As I haggled with friendly vendors over prices, I couldn’t help but appreciate their passion for their craft, and their willingness to share stories behind each product.
Take a day trip to Monaco, just a short drive or train ride away
While Menton has plenty to offer on its own,it would be remiss not to take advantage of its close proximity to Monaco – one of Europe’s most glamorous destinations. Just a short drive or train ride away, this tiny principality offers an array of attractions that are well worth exploring.
From opulent casinos like Monte Carlo Casino to luxurious yacht-filled harbors like Port Hercules,the glitz and glamour are palpable at every turn.
As I walked along Casino Square, I couldn’t help but feel like I had stepped into another world – a world of high-stakes gambling, fast cars, and designer boutiques.
For those seeking a more cultural experience, Monaco also boasts several museums and historical sites worth visiting. One such gem is the Oceanographic Museum, founded by Prince Albert I in 1910. This architectural masterpiece houses an impressive collection of marine life and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Recommendation – Top Things to Do in Monaco France
Explore the nearby medieval village of Sainte-Agnès, perched on a hilltop with breathtaking views
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Menton for a day, I highly recommend taking a short drive up to Sainte-Agnès – one of France’s most beautiful medieval villages. Perched atop a hill overlooking Menton, this charming village offers panoramic views that will take your breath away.
As I wandered through its narrow cobblestone streets lined with ancient stone houses,I couldn’t help but feel like I had stepped back in time. The village exudes an old-world charm that is hard to find elsewhere. From its well-preserved castle ruins to its quaint church dating back to the 12th century,every corner tells a story.
One particular highlight was reaching the Belvedere viewpoint a spot that offers uninterrupted vistas stretching from Menton to Italy.
As I stood there, taking in the sweeping panorama, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for this hidden gem that allowed me to see the French Riviera from an entirely new perspective.
Attend Fête du Citron, a popular annual festival celebrating Menton’s lemon harvest
If you happen to visit Menton during late winter or early spring, you’re in for a citrus-filled treat! Every year, the town hosts Fête du Citron -an extravagant festival celebrating its most prized fruit: the lemon.
During this vibrant event, the streets come alive with elaborate floats made entirely out of lemons and oranges, brightening up even the cloudiest days.
As I joined thousands of visitors from around the world, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the sheer creativity and artistry on display. The floats depict various themes, from historical events to mythical creatures, and are a testament to Menton’s long-standing love affair with lemons.
In addition to the floats, the festival also features parades, live music performances, and even fireworks. It’s a true feast for all senses, as visitors can sample lemon-infused treats at every corner -from lemon meringue pies to lemon-flavored gelato, and even lemon cocktails.
Go on a boat tour of the French Riviera, departing from Menton’s harbor
To truly appreciate the beauty of the French Riviera from a different perspective, I highly recommend embarking on a boat tour. Departing from Menton’s picturesque harbor, you’ll have an opportunity to explore hidden coves, pristine beaches, and charming coastal towns that are only accessible by sea.
As I boarded the boat and set sail along the azure waters,I couldn’t help but feel a sense of freedom and adventure. The captain navigated us through stunning rock formations, dotted with secret caves and grottoes.I was in awe as we passed by glamorous villas perched atop cliffs, and colorful fishing villages nestled in secluded bays.
One particular highlight was anchoring near Cap Martin a rugged peninsula known for its dramatic cliffs and crystal-clear waters.Here,I had an opportunity to swim in the pristine turquoise sea,surrounded by untouched nature.
It was an experience that left me feeling rejuvenated and grateful for this unique perspective of French Riviera.
Final Thoughts: What to do in Menton
Menton offers a delightful blend of picturesque landscapes, cultural heritage, and culinary delights. From strolling through the vibrant Old Town to exploring the serene gardens of Serre de la Madone, there is a myriad of experiences to indulge in.
The tantalizing flavors of Menton’s renowned citrus fruits and delectable cuisine add a savory touch to the visit. Whether admiring the stunning views from the Bastion Museum or relaxing on the sun-kissed beaches, Menton promises a memorable and enriching experience for all visitors.
How many days is enough for Exploring Menton?
Exploring Menton thoroughly typically requires around 2-3 days to visit its key attractions and enjoy its ambiance.
What is Menton?
Menton is a town located in the French Riviera, in the southeast of France. It is known for its beautiful beaches, colorful buildings, and mild climate.
What are the best attractions in Menton?
Some of the best things to do in Menton include visiting the Old Town, exploring the gardens and parks, visiting the Jean Cocteau Museum, and enjoying the beaches and water activities.
What is the Old Town of Menton?
The Old Town of Menton is a historic district with narrow streets, colorful buildings, and charming squares. It is home to many shops, restaurants, and cafes, and is a great place to explore on foot.
What are the best gardens and parks to visit in Menton?
Some of the best gardens and parks to visit in Menton include the Jardin Serre de la Madone, the Jardin Botanique Exotique de Menton, and the Parc du Pian.
What is the Jean Cocteau Museum?
The Jean Cocteau Museum is a museum dedicated to the life and work of the French artist and writer Jean Cocteau. It is located in Menton and features a collection of his paintings, drawings, and other works.
What are the best beaches in Menton?
Some of the best beaches in Menton include Plage des Sablettes, Plage du Fossan, and Plage du Marché.
What water activities can be enjoyed in Menton?
Some of the water activities that can be enjoyed in Menton include swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
How far is Menton from Monaco?
Menton is tantalizingly close to the glitz and glamour of Monaco, making it an attractive day trip for those staying in either location. The distance between these two scenic spots on the French Riviera varies slightly depending on the mode of transportation you choose.
For those looking to drive from Menton to Monaco, the distance is approximately 13 kilometers (km), allowing for a short and scenic journey along the coast . If you’re considering a more eco-friendly option or simply want to avoid the hassle of parking, taking a train is a convenient choice. The train journey covers a distance of about 7 km (4 miles), offering a quick and efficient way to traverse this picturesque stretch.
For a more detailed breakdown:
- The driving distance between Menton and Monaco is approximately 11 km to 13 km, depending on the route taken.
- By train, the distance covered is around 7 km, making it a brief yet beautiful ride along the Mediterranean coast.
How to Get to Menton from Nice?
To get to Menton from Nice, you can take a train from Nice-Ville station to Menton station. The train journey takes about 35-45 minutes.
I prebooked the train ticket which was for 6.40 € in total. Fairly cheaper option to reach to Menton.
Another option is to drive along the beautiful coastal road, which is about a 40-minute drive, depending on traffic conditions.