Guide to menton

The Complete Guide to Menton

Menton is a stunning seaside town in the south of France and our guide will help you plan your visit. Known as the pearl of France, the town is a literal stones through from the Italian border and is around the corner from the majestic principality of Monaco. We think it’s one of the most underrated towns on the Riviera and you need to visit! From what to see and do, how to get there and where to eat, our guide has you covered.

One of the Rivera’s Most Beautiful Towns

The history of the town goes all the way back to the Stone Age. Iin more recent times has been under rule from the Republic of Genoa and the Principality of Monaco. After some turbulent years, Menton was eventually annexed by France in 1860. In the 1900s the town became popular with British aristocrats on the grand tour.

The town has a distinctly Italian architectural feel to it and isn’t too dissimilar from the nearby town of San Remo. The old town has plenty of charming windy streets that lead up to the beautiful, Baroque basilica. Below the old town, you’ll find a beautiful bay lined with restaurants and bars with views up to the genuinely stunning rocky hills above the town.

Apart from its architectural beauty, Menton has a special subtropical microclimate which allows for it’s world famous botanical gardens that are dotted on the hillsides above the town. The warm temperatures extend all year around meaning the area can produce some stunning fruit and vegetables including the famous Menton lemons.

What To Do & See in Menton

Walk up to the Saint-Michel-Archange Basilique

A fantastic way to explore the old town is to walk up to the ancient basilica. The baroque style basilique is one of the highest building’s in the city, perched right at the top of the old town. Easy to spot, the church is accessible via stairs from the main road that goes around the bay. Alternatively, you can walk up through the charming streets behind the church to explore the old town.

The basilica dates back to the early 1600s and was designed by Italian architect Lorenzo Lavagna. Entry to the church is free and is well worth a visit. Outside the church is a small square which is where the annual Menton Music Festival takes place during the summer.

Discover the Les Halles Food Market

At the bottom of the old town, you’ll find the Les Halles food market. This small market is filled with incredible food stands, bars and small restaurants. This is where the 3 Michelin Star Chef, Mauro Colagreco, gets produce for his restaurant Mirazur.

You’ll find some incredible local fish (that will have been caught that morning!) and lots of local fruits and vegetables. This is the perfect place to buy some of Menton’s famous citrus!

Walk Around the Plage des Sablettes

The Plage des Sablettes is the main public beach that you’ll find in the town centre. It runs from the old to the new port and it’s here where you’ll feel the very French-Italian atmosphere where friends and families meet for drinks and dinner. The man made beach has some great public facilities including showers, toilets and changing rooms. It’s also a perfect spot to enjoy a drink with epic views across the eastern edge of the town and the stunning hills above.

plage des tablettes

Discover the Botanical Gardens

Menton is home to a lot of incredible and world famous botanical gardens. Many are private and require advanced booking but some, like the Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh are open to the general public throughout the year. Entry to the multi-layered garden costs around €7 for an adult and can be bought on arrival. The garden has many exotic plants and flowers and features a beautiful central pond. You can find more out here.

Take a Full Day Tour with a Boat Trip

If you want to explore the city without worrying about organising tickets, visits and where to eat then a full day guided tour is a great idea.

You’ll be greeted at the train station upon arrival and go onto explore the Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh, a citrus orchard and a guided visit around the city.

We’ve partnered with Get Your Guide who offer this tour – find out more here.

What Else You Can Do

There’s plenty of private beaches on the eastern side of the Plage des Sablettes. You can rent sun beds for half or a full day and the majority have a full restaurant service at lunch time. If you’re staying in Menton you can also take a day trip over to Monaco by taking a 35 minute train. Here you can see the incredible marina (with all the superyachts!), check out the casino and have a coffee at the Café de Paris.

Where to Eat

There are plenty of fantastic restaurants in Menton to discover. Perhaps the most famous is the 3* Michelin Star restaurant, Mirazur. I would definitely recommend going for a special meal. It’s not cheap but you’ll eat at one of the top restaurants in the world whilst eating incredible local produce.

On the cheaper side i’d recommend Le Petit Port which is a minute’s walk away from the old port. They serve incredibly fresh, locally caught fish and some great steaks.

If you want to know more spots to try out, click below to read our guide to the best restaurants in Menton:

Travelling around the French Riviera and want to know where to eat? Check out our guide to the best restaurants in the South of France.

Where to Stay in Menton

My favourite hotel to stay at in Menton is the Best Western Prince de Galles hotel. South of the old town on the Promenade du Soleil, their sea view rooms (which I’d 100% recommend) have an incredible terrace overlooking the sea. It’a really comfy 4* hotel with modern rooms and amenities. Get the breakfast to your terrace and enjoy the view!

Click here for some great other options in Menton.

FAQ: Visiting Menton

How to Get There

You can get to Menton from Nice by a regional TER train which takes around 35 minutes and costs €6.40 one way.

Where to Park in Menton

If you’re driving then I’d recommend parking at the Interparking Vieille Ville – Sablettes. It’s right next to the old town, is extremely clean and is open 24/7. There are a lot of places so you should be able to find a parking space even during the summer.

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