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Things To Do In Menton
Menton is a little town in the Alpes-Maritimes department of southeast France and the last resort on the French Riviera before Italy. It is one of the most inexpensive towns on the Riviera that makes up for its simplicity by offering lovely gardens, Belle Epoque architecture and fun markets for travellers to explore. Moreover, after spending your holidays in fancier cities like Nice, Cannes, or Monaco, a quiet get-away to Menton will prove to be the perfect complement to your vacation. Travellers can opt to rent entire apartments in Menton at very cheap rates and even plan little excursions to villages nearby. To know more about the top things to do in Menton, here is our list of recommendations.
Walk to Italy
Menton is the last town on the Cote d’Azur that travellers encounter before crossing over to the Italian border. Mortola Point is the meeting spot between France and Italy, which is easily visible from the Sablettes Beach; a mere 30 to 45-minute walk will take you across the border to Italy. While the walk can be tiring on a hot summer day, the views are spectacular and being able to say that one has been in two countries at the same time is truly a memorable moment.
Relax on Plage des Sablettes
The most amazing beach in Menton is located underneath the Saint-Michel Basilica, between the two ports along Bonaparte pier and is screened from the sea by the city’s harbour. The wonderful Mediterranean sun and turquoise blue waters are immensely enjoyable on Sablettes Beach, where visitors can actually see Mortola Point – the meeting point of France and Italy. A diving and water sports centre here offers trips to more than 30 dive sites that also include shipwrecks, shallow underwater caves and impressive drop-offs.
Admire the Salle des Mariages
In the year 1957, the famous artist Jean Cocteau was commissioned by the mayor of Menton to redesign the Salle des Mariages – the Wedding Hall in Hotel de Ville. Jean Cocteau was given free rein for two years to complete the work and all aspects of the design were left to his discretion. While even the interior design of the hall has been done by him, which includes faux leopard rugs, bronze candelabra and carved wood doors, it’s the vibrant murals on the walls and roof that truly catch one’s attention. Inspired by ancient mythology, information about the paintings can be gained through guided tours that are available on Thursdays each week.
Shop in Marché des Halles
The covered market hall on Quai de Monleon in Menton is much like other value-for-money markets found all over France. From Tuesday to Sunday each week, visitors to the Market Hall can indulge in purchases of fresh local produce like fruits and vegetables, and a variety of cheese, meats and meat-related products. A must-buy is definitely the quintessential Mentonnaise preserves, jams and other citrus-fruit products. The local merchants and stallholders are a warm and friendly group of people and are always welcoming of tourists and visitors to the city.
Visit Jean Cocteau Museum
The legendary Jean Cocteau was known to have spent most of his last days in Menton, and the city has commemorated his life by building the largest public resource of his works in the entire world. Established in 2011, the museum came into being when art collector and Cocteau expert Severin Wunderman donated his entire collection of Cocteau works to Menton in 2003; on the condition that the city uses those pieces in a museum dedicated to Cocteau. The multi-million-dollar collection includes more than 1500 of Cocteau’s works in various formats like paintings, ceramics, graphic art and cinematography work. While here, visitors can also check out Musee du Bastion; a 17th-century bastion that was turned into a monument of his work by Cocteau himself.
Indulge in Local Food and Drinks
The cuisine in Menton can best be described as elegantly simple that accentuates the quality of its locally grown produce. Traditional French fare like salade Nicoise and socca flatbread is a staple here and can be tried in many other regions nearby, but the Pichade Mentonnaise is a locally made cheese-less pizza that is one of the best things to indulge in here. All kinds of lemon-related food and drinks are another highlight of the Menton dining scene, some of the best varieties of which can be purchased from Au Pays du Citron. Provence is the world-renowned producer of rosé wines, and Menton is the perfect place to pair these wines with your food.
Tour the Herbin Confiturerie
Menton is known for its rich annual harvest of lemons and oranges, and the family-run establishment Herbin puts this harvest to use by producing splendid artisanal jams and preserves. Located an alley off Rue-Saint-Michel, the store is open for tours three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10.30 am. The craft of jam and marmalade-making was brought to Menton by the English, and this establishment alone uses almost 400 kg of fruits a day to make thousands of marmalade pots. The owner Jean-Claude Bineau himself walks visitors through the guided tour and even enthrals them with Menton’s history of fruit production.
Experience the Lemon Festival
Being one of Europe’s largest citrus fruit producers since the 15th-century, Menton’s devotion to lemons specifically can be witnessed first-hand in the annual Lemon Festival that takes place in February every year. It receives more visitors than even the Monaco Grand Prix and goes on for almost three weeks. This unique celebration that also involves musicians and dancers started in 1934 and consists of hundreds of tons’ worth of lemons designed into sculptures and decorative floats carried through a procession on the Promenade du Soleil. The Bioves Garden features some of the most elaborate citrus sculptures, which can reach heights of more than 10 metres. The festival follows a separate theme each year; some of the most popular ones have been ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Broadway’, and ‘Tintin’.