Menton, France: The Pearl of the French Riviera Menton, France: The Pearl of the French Riviera

Menton, France: The Pearl of the French Riviera

Menton: the pearl of France and one of the most beautiful corners of the country. Here, the sleepiness of the French Riviera remains, with its shuttered villas, terracotta roofs, dreamy beaches, palm trees, and lemon gardens. Because of its close proximity to Italy, Menton can sometimes feel more Italian than French, from the culture and buildings to the delicious food (hello pasta & gelato!). Enjoy two days here soaking up sun rays, atmosphere, and the beauty of this magical coastal town.

Visiting Menton, France

Just being in Menton is an experience. Breathe in the fresh sea air, enjoy the pastel colors of the houses, smell citrus from the lemon trees, and admire the grand Baroque buildings. The narrow winding streets of Menton ooze with charm and history, remaining authentic to the classic time of the French Riviera. Despite being so close to the glitz and glamour of Monaco and Nice, it’s very affordable and much less crowded! 

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The Pearl of France

As you wander through the town, you’ll notice it’s a perfect mixture of all the beautiful Mediterranean countries. For example, the palm tree-lined streets of Spain, the Provencal architecture of France, and the cuisine of Italy. Best of all? Menton has incredible views, looking out over the blue of the Mediterranean Sea, with the snow-capped Alps behind. It’s no wonder it’s called the ‘Pearl of France’!

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Menton is famous for lemons

Lemon growing is a huge part of Menton’s culture. It is thought to be one of the warmest places on the coastline (with over 316 days of sunshine a year) and this unique microclimate has made it perfect for growing gorgeous lemon trees! You’ll see them everywhere: in the parks, along the streets, and dotted over the surrounding countryside. A must-do, while you’re on your trip to Menton, is to enjoy all the shops selling various lemon products. Whether it’s a lemon liqueur, lemon soaps, or lemon-infused olive oil, Menton will have it! 

menton france lemons

Things to do in Menton

1. Stroll around Old Town 

The old town is the gem of Menton, home to stunning medieval buildings and streets that take your breath away. As you explore the maze of narrow roads, remember this part of town was founded by pirates in the 13th century! Climb the steep streets all the way to the cathedral, admiring the colored houses, the grand villas, and the elegant Baroque buildings around every corner. 

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2. Basilique Saint-Michel-Archange 

At the top of the old town, discover the beauty of the Basilique Saint-Michel-Archange. This gorgeous Baroque cathedral has a stunning facade and interior, complete with a magnificent ceiling mural. The cathedral also has two towers, which are unique, a 35-meter high clock tower and a 53-meter high steeple.

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After visiting the cathedral, continue climbing to the cemetery where the castle used to be. Here, discover amazing views across the sea, the terracotta roofs and houses of Menton, and the coastline towards Italy.

Tip: Much like Nice, there is also a Russian Orthodox church in Menton. It’s well worth going to see, as it’s a unique thing to do in Menton.

3. Plage des Sablettes 

Plage des Sablettes is a stunning boulevard at the edge of the old town that hugs the white sand beach. Here, you’ll find beautiful fountains, scenic restaurants, and a buzzing atmosphere. It is known as a place where young people and families gather, and everyone can enjoy the various amenities. There are beaches with some private parts. This will give you access to the lovely shallow water, parasols, and sunbeds, with a view of Menton’s colorful buildings. 

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4. Jean Cocteau Museum

Jean Cocteau was a famous artist and film director who loved Menton. In fact, it was one of his favorite places! Because of this, a museum was dedicated to him within the town, chosen by Jean himself to display his work. Uniquely, the museum is built within the bastion, a 17th-century fort that’s been decorated with beautiful mosaics by Jean Cocteau. His work is really eclectic and well worth a visit on your trip to Menton!

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Menton, France: The Pearl of the French Riviera

5. Day Trip to Monaco

Monaco is an independent state and one of the most glamorous places in the world! Hop on the train and spend the day in Monaco. Visit the grand palace and casinos that inspired the James Bond film, and wander along the harbor admiring the superyachts. Much like the rest of this coastline, the climate is spectacular, and there are plenty of tropical gardens to explore.

When you’re done soaking up the lifestyle of the rich and famous, head down to the main strip of the beach for a dip in the sea and a bite to eat at one of the many upscale restaurants. Monaco is a must-see, even if just for a quick stop on your trip to Menton.

monaco france

6. Swim at the Menton Beaches

Plage des Sablettes is the busiest and most central of the beaches. However, there’s no shortage of other good beaches to explore on your trip to Menton, France. Generally, the beaches are rockier on the western side of Menton and sandier on the east towards Italy. Some good options are Plage du Fossan and Plage Rondelli. Fossan is pebbly and good for families. Rondelli is sandier and attracts a younger crowd, with some fun beach bars. 

menton france beaches

Getting to Menton, France

Menton can be reached easily from all over France and Italy since it’s close to the border. 

By Plane: Nice International Airport is only a 30-minute drive away. It serves lots of major cities throughout Europe and the rest of France.

Find flights to Menton ✈️

By Car: Especially if you’re exploring more of the beautiful country of France, renting a car is a great option to get to Menton.

By Train: There is a high-speed train from Paris that reaches Menton in 6.5 hours. The train from Marseille to Menton takes about 3.5 hours. Easily book your train tickets here.

Getting Around

Menton is very small, and one of the best things to do is just walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. If you’re looking to explore other destinations, there are two railway stations in Menton. These both link to other towns and cities in France and Italy. You can even walk to Italy along the coast path! However, most people prefer to take the 9-minute train to Ventimiglia, just across the border. 

Where to Stay in Menton

There are a good amount of hotels in Menton. We recommend staying close to the beach or the old town as this is the part where you most likely want to spend most of your time.

Where to Eat in Menton, France

  • Al Vecchio Forno (Italian)
  • Loving Hut Menton (Vegan)
  • Le P’tit Resto (French)
  • O’Frais (French bar)
french riviera

Best Time to Visit

There is no best time to visit Menton, as it’s great all year round! Because of the unique micro-climate, it’s almost always sunny, and there are mild temperatures during every season.


The Spring and Autumn shoulder seasons are a particularly great time as the prices are cheaper and it’s less crowded. It can also still be warm enough to enjoy the beach!

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