"Menton - lemons, flowers, and Jean Cocteau" Top 5 Page for this destination Menton by NiceLife

Menton Travel Guide: 131 reviews and 292 photos

Last stop before Italy

The pretty town of Menton signals the change from France into Italy, with its Italianate architectural style in abundance, colourful displays of flowers in its parks, and above all, the abundance of lemon trees.

The baroque cathedral rises from out the tightly-packed houses of the old town, built out on a hill. The colours here become more daring as they reach closer to the Italian border, less than a thousand metres away. The soft creams and pale yellows of Nice by now have turned to rich terracota and vivid ochres, contrasted with blue or green shutters.

In the four levels of the cimitieres of the old church is written the ecclectic history of Menton. Russian princes mix with grand italian families, and consumptive British expatriates. Victorian romantic illustrator Aubrey Beardsley is here (courtesy of tuburculosis at age 26), along with William Webb, founder of Rugby, and many sickly English girls sent here in Victorian times, unsuccessfully, for their health. Many health tourists unfortunately wasted their return ticket.

The Jardin Boives runs through the centre of the town, lined with Citrus trees and filled with exotic palms and colourful plantings.

Menton is said to enjoy the most sheltered and favoured climate on the Riviera. It quickly became the focus of gardeners who came from throughout Europe to found their grand designs, often nestling in the hillside and set against pure blue sky.

There are many grand private gardens in Menton, and admission can be arranged for guided group visits on select days through the helpful Tourist Office, conveniently situated alongside the Jardin Boives.

In Carnival time every February the town gives itself over to the festival of the lemon, which is said to be the rival of all other varieties.

Finest views over Menton from Boulevard Garavan

Walking in the direction of Italy along the Bay de Garavan, avoid the flat harbour road with its relentless line of unlovely holiday apartment blocks, and instead take the high road - the Boulevard de Garavan.

This is the key to access the exotic gardens, beautifil villas and finest views of Menton - from above. Here hardy Euphorbia grows gigantic, and Bouganvilliea in rich profusion. The villas are sumptuous and you will access the beauty of Menton, hidden from those for whom it is merely somewhere to lie on the beach.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Pretty, with favoured climate and lush vegetation
  • Cons:Many many holiday apartments
  • In a nutshell:A nice place for the unhurried life
  • Last visit to Menton: Jul 2009
  • Intro Updated Jul 23, 2009
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Reviews (28)

Comments (9)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Sep 15, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    We have gone to Italy many times-but not this way yet. You did a great job of describing Cocteau and the Italian influences, along with nice pictures

  • nada1712's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2009 at 5:04 AM

    Your pages are so enjoyable...you didn't mention William Waterfields' delicious jardin?

  • Oct 1, 2006 at 9:51 AM

    "Le Karukera".. I know it well... I spent some weeks in Menton during the summer; when I discovered this place in Rue S.Michael..I just fell in love! There was a man and a young boy.. And they made delicious nutella crepes! *_* I miss them so much... :(((

  • pepples46's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2005 at 12:01 PM

    Kathrine Mansfield had a studio here too, and every year NZ writers get the chance for 1 year to work and live in Menton. wonderful page

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Feb 13, 2005 at 12:21 PM

    So enticing. Lovely pages.

  • thinking's Profile Photo
    Sep 22, 2004 at 10:45 AM

    I really enjoyed reading about what I missed in Menton. I'll be there again in October. All the best.

  • chicabonita's Profile Photo
    Aug 22, 2004 at 9:28 AM

    very nice page! Like what Cocteau wrote about "to love"

  • vivalasteph's Profile Photo
    Jul 4, 2004 at 7:07 AM

    Fantastic update, Andrew. Love the cemetery pic. When you finally make the Villa tour, do keep away from the priceless Steinway. (crash...not anymore)

  • allaboutnice's Profile Photo
    Jul 2, 2004 at 4:20 PM

    Wonderful tips and photos, I am definitely going to Menton this summer, I shall drag myself away from my beloved Nice :-)

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