Bonjour, ca va? My name is Tasha and welcome to my travel guide on the best things to do in Menton – the most magical spot on the French Riviera. I am a person who loves to travel, explore new places, and seek out fun, beautiful adventures. I am originally from Southern California – a city called Oxnard that is along the coast nestled between Malibu and Santa Barbara.
I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to attend college at Hawaii Pacific University. And so as one naturally would, I decided to stay after graduation and ended up living there for a total of 10 years. It’s hard not to fall in love with Hawaii because it’s one of the most special places on earth. Living there was definitely a blessing. During this time, I started to travel abroad quite a lot.
I visited friends all around the world, traveled solo, went on girls trips and took incredible road trips through the US. Right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I met the love of my life who was traveling solo in Hawaii. So now, I live in Sydney with my incredible Australian husband! I’m slowly exploring my new country bit by bit and enjoying my married life there.
Three Special Nights in Menton
Recently, I visited Menton. I was inspired by all the colorful pictures I had seen on Instagram. I just adore beachside cities and was drawn to the idea of visiting the French Riviera. Also, the location of Menton near other places was appealing. We only spent three nights in Menton as it was part of a larger trip that my husband and I were taking around the world.
We started our trip in Qatar, went to the Seychelles, and explored lots of Europe before going to the States and then back to Australia. Our goal was to tick all of our big bucket-list destinations off our list and Menton was at the top of mine. Our time in Menton was spent walking around by foot, eating amazing food, trying the wines of Provence, lounging at the beach and taking a day trip to Monaco. It was a special three nights.
I would describe Menton as a colorful, stunning and well located place with a great mix of French and Italian culture. Menton should be at the top of everyone’s travel list because you can do it all here! You can discover beautiful cathedrals, lounge by the beach, hike in the mountains and take day trips to nearby towns. Menton is an absolutely gorgeous town and it’s still somewhat under the radar (not sure how long that will last)!
My favorite spot in Menton was Vieux Port de Menton – the harbor with the picturesque backdrop where most of my photos were taken. At every glance this place was breathtaking. Our Airbnb was at Vieux Port de Menton. The main promenade was a quick walk away, and the beachside area has plenty of restaurants and bars, so it was definitely the place to be.
7 Best Things To Do in Menton
Menton sits right on the border between France and Italy on the Cote d’Azur. People often visit the town after touring the French Riviera en route to Italy or the other way around after exploring Italy. No matter the path you take, there is so much to do in this lovable commune. Below I will outline some of the best things to do in Menton for first time visitors.
1. Attend the Lemon Festival (Fete du Citron)
The Lemon Festival (Fete du Citron) is an annual festival held in Menton. Over 15 days of festivities attract more than 200,000 visitors where all sorts of parades, exhibitions, gardens and markets are organized. The Fete du Citron is the second most attended French Riviera festival after the Nice Carnival. This event takes place in the second half of February every year.
2. Explore the Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden
The Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden was renovated in the 1920s and transformed into an Italian-Provencal-style villa with ochre walls. For over 100 years the garden has been welcoming visitors inside its gates. There is over a hectare of land to see with many interesting plants and vegetation dotted around the place. One of the most unique is the Sophora toromiro – a shrub only found in Easter Island (which is now extinct).
3. Shop for Fresh Produce at Les Halles Market
Marche de Halles is considered the hub of fresh produce in Menton. Take one step inside and your senses become engaged on all fronts: sights, sounds and smells. Stall owners are conversing loudly with each other and shoppers are browsing through products – creating a buzzing atmosphere. Local specialties at the market include lemon tarts, socca (a type of crepe) and barbajuans (fritters stuffed with chard, meat, eggs and cheese).
4. Walk around the Old Town & Try Limoncello
Menton is the perfect place to follow your feet without a plan. Wander around the Old Quarter and marvel at the pastel-colored buildings. Take some artistic looking photos, shop at the cool boutiques and stop at a cafe for a sip of Limoncello. There is no better introduction to Menton than meandering throughout the Old Town on a whimsical afternoon walk.
5. Visit Basilica de Michael Archangel & its Stairway
Basilica de Michael Archangel is located at the summit point of the Old Quarter and it’s the most magnificent church in town. It’s a place you will want to visit even if you aren’t religious. The cathedral’s bell tower rises above the surrounding buildings – making it the centerpiece of Menton architecture. Capture photos of the spectacular baroque facade and head down the stairs for a few fun clicks with the basilica in the background.
6. Take in the Views at Vieux Port de Menton
The backdrop is just so beautiful and colorful, one could be in awe forever. On a sunny day the pictures at Vieux Port de Menton come out amazing. As you stroll along the port you will come across fishermen going about their day, and locals and tourists flocking to Sablettes Beach (Plage des Sablettes) to jump in the water for a dip. The port is very charming.
7. Enjoy the Most Beautiful Beaches of Menton
Visiting Menton in summer means you will have five different beaches to choose from when you want to go sunbathing and swimming. The beaches of this area are a mix of sandy beaches and pebbly ones – both will be clean and well maintained. Some of the best beaches include Plage de Fossan, Plage du Casino, Plage du Borrigo, Plage Sablettes and Plage Rondelli.
Where to Stay in Menton
For our stay in Menton, we loved our Airbnb. It was one of those buildings in the backdrop of Vieux Port de Menton which made it a two minute walk to the beach. It was by the main square and we loved the pizza at the Italian restaurant next door. The artist who was on the other neighboring side to us was so friendly and gave us recommendations on things to do.
This place is easy to find on Airbnb. It’s listed as “Natalie’s Apartment” under a search for Menton accommodation. Our Airbnb had everything we needed, and the price point was totally affordable at $105 USD per night. Not bad when you consider the location. If you adore staying in Airbnbs then you will love Natalie’s Apartment. Highly recommended!
Food of Menton: French & Italian
The food in Menton is superb! During our browsing, we saw many diverse options but we opted for a lot of Italian. Menton is situated close to the border with Italy, so this influence is seen heavily in the food. We tried amazing French cuisine at A l’ombre du clocher which was suggested to us by our neighbor. Here, my veal and mushroom sauce was perfect and my husband tried the frog legs which were tasty and well seasoned.
Our artist neighbor recommended the Italian restaurant next door Al Vecchio Forno. My husband will testify that it was the best pizza he has ever had. We also found little spots where we had small meals of crepes, desserts and fruits along the main street of the square. For cocktails on the beachside promenade try Coco Loco. For a cheap dive bar where you can sit outside and watch people pass by try Bar le Retro – I enjoyed their rose.
Travel Tips for Visiting Menton
The Lemon Festival looks so beautiful and it seems like a unique experience to be had. So if this is something that would appeal to you, it could be useful to do the research and plan your visit around the event. Fete du Citron takes place in mid-February. As far as the weather goes, we went in the middle of April and got lucky. It rained the week prior to us visiting and the week after. We had lots of sunshine but it was chilly at night.
Therefore, if your sole purpose is the beach, it would be best to visit in summer. I also recommend planning out the other places you would like to visit in the region. I had an idea that we would visit Saint-Tropez but it was a two hour journey with no easy or straight way to get there unless going by car. I thought I would be able to figure it out once we arrived but it wasn’t so simple. So map out the day trips you would like to take before going.
Favorite Memory from Menton
To finish, I would like to share my favorite memory from Menton. It was the first day we arrived. We had a long day of travel and were just so hungry. Restaurants in Menton are closed during the afternoon and we had a few hours to go until something was open. Well, we wandered into an Italian cafe called La Cantinella. This is where we learned how close Italy was.
The owner spoke Italian, so to order we used three degrees of people: the lady next to us spoke English and translated to her friend in Polish who translated to the owner in Italian. I thought this was so cool and straight out of “I Love Lucy”. Looking back, we could have used Google but this was more fun! Also, we had nice red wine, aperitivos and Limencello with the owner. It was a fun situation to be in and those happen to be the best.