A sleepy town on the French Riviera, Menton delights with its Italian architecture and old-world coastal atmosphere. It feels like time has stood still, especially when strolling along the cobbled alleyways of the old town. This self-proclaimed Lemon Capital of the World is in France, but within walking distance of the border with Italy, hence the eclectic styles that merge on the streets. Citrus scents dominate, but the restaurants have more panache than a squeezed lemon, and with its Michelin-starred restaurants, Menton is firmly on the map for enthusiastic foodies.
The daily covered market at Quai de Monleon is a great place to start any culinary exploration. Jams, liqueurs, and lemon-infused olive oil are among the local delicacies. Menton’s stunning old town is narrow and steep, where shards of sunlight illuminate baroque churches and jumbled houses of pink and gold hues. Keep ascending through the town and the fabulous Chapelle des Penitents Blancs provides views down onto the Mediterranean coastline. It’s very rocky down by the water, and there isn’t much beach. However, there are many good restaurants with views plus the new Jean Cocteau museum.
Menton is easily accessed from destinations on the eastern side of the French Riviera and can be a day trip from Nice or Monaco. There are trains and buses from both these cities, as well as one from Ventimiglia, the town across the border in Italy. Anyone walking between the countries is in for a delightful hike through the mountains. While Menton is widely spread, most of the town is pedestrianised. The easiest means of exploration is to park or exit at the port, then walk uphill towards the old town.
The town has historically been a place of high-end dining without the price-tag. While neighbours Saint Tropez and Monaco are filled with swanky restaurants, Menton’s allure has always been its exotic microclimate. The restaurants remain laid-back, allowing the Michelin-starred food quality to shine.