France. Menton, Côte d’Azur.
Menton was the final one in my trip to France. Vacations on the water have become a must for my travels and I decided to look for a place on the Côte d’Azur. Of course, I had heard the world-famous names: Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Monaco… etc. I have read a lot of stories on our website about these places, about rest and beaches and gave preference to a little unpublicized, cozy, with an Italian flavor (I love Italy!) Menton. And did not regret it at all.
Menton – the easternmost resort of the Cote d’Azur, located between the possessions of Monaco and the Italian border, a quiet and picturesque seaside town, imbued with color and traditions of the two European cultures: French and Italian. It rises gently from the sea and goes high into the mountains.
For a long time I chose a hotel, booked, canceled, and then, about 3 months before the trip I found a hotel with breakfast, on the first line, and even at a reasonable price, but the reservation was without cancellation, so the money was written off immediately. I only paid extra city tax on the spot. So, for 7 nights I stayed at Hôtel Vacances Bleues Balmoral.
Recommended. Just across the road from the beach. The staff spoke English and were very friendly and helpful. Breakfast is a standard buffet in a spacious, beautiful room with an old fireplace and windows overlooking the sea.
The hotel has its own patio with access to the seafront. Here they serve dinner in the evening (you can order it for an extra fee), and musicians play. It was very nice to just (without dinner) relax here in the evening, listen to music.
Menton was the fourth city in my trip to France. Before it, I had been to Strasbourg, Colmar, and Annecy. After a careful study of the schedule and the train service on the website of SNCF, I found the following option to get me from Annecy to Menton: direct TGV train from Annecy to Lyon airport (travel time – about two hours), then a flight from Lyon to Nice (55 minutes), and from Nice to Menton on the express train 110. I bought tickets for the train three months in advance, as soon as the sale began. At this point, I had to leave Annecy at 9-30, and arrive in Nice at 16-45. But, there was an unforeseen obstacle that made me very nervous. Looking ahead, all ended well and I arrived in Nice on time.
The day before, there had been a thunderstorm and heavy rain for two nights in Annecy (but it didn’t cool the heat of the day, it only made it more humid). The day before my departure, SNCF sent me a letter (in English) informing me that there would be no dining car on the train, and they were very sorry and told me to take care of the food. I, of course, did not get upset: somehow, without food, I will survive 2 hours))).
The morning of my departure day I got another letter (in French already). I showed it to the hostess at breakfast, without understanding anything. Is it OK? – I asked. She answered: No, it’s not OK. It turns out that the rains and storms have damaged the railway line and the trains won’t be running until 5 pm. Wow. And I have a 3:50 flight out of Lyon! After hastily saying goodbye to my hostess and picking up my suitcase, I rushed to the train station in great excitement.
What a good job by the French! Last year the railroad workers were on strike, but this summer they worked very smoothly! Buses were organized right there at the station, including one to Lyon. There were a lot of people, and there were long lines at the bus stops. There were friendly police officers keeping order. With a delay of 2 hours, I left Annecy in a comfortable bus (with my train ticket). However, the bus took me to the train station Part-Dieu, and from there I had to get to the airport by shuttle (streetcar, 16 euros per trip! You can get the ticket from the ticket machine at the bus stop). Arriving at the airport, I had a coffee, relieved stress, and flew to Nice.
Hooray. I’m finally in Menton! I got off at the bus station (Gare Routiere), although I’d better get off at the bus stop Casino, but I didn’t signal the driver in time. From this bus station all the buses leave and make stops in Menton. This is the street where the bus station is located.
Along this street I went towards the sea. On the way I met the Palais de l’Europe, the former casino, where different cultural events were held, and the tourist office.
The Jardin Bioves, where during the Lemon Festival giant citrus structures and ornaments are erected. And now part of the garden is decorated in pirate style.
Menton is a small cozy resort on the French Côte d’Azur, not far from Nice. As in every town on the Mediterranean coast Menton has a cozy old town with a medieval building and the old port. They are definitely worth a walk and feel the flavor, but are there any other attractions in this town?
The main attraction of Menton is not a building, a park or a museum. It’s the festival! Every year from February to March, Menton hosts the Lemon Festival, a colorful festival with a carnival procession. The city was not randomly chosen as the site for the festival. Nowhere else in Europe do lemons bear such abundant fruit.
Many creative and farming groups take part in the carnival. The holiday gathers about 250 thousand people. In the design of each carnival platform must be present lemons. You haven’t seen such a use for the fruit yet!
Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts)
The museum is located in the Palace Carnoles, former summer residence of the Grimaldi family (Prince Albert of Monaco to be exact). In addition to works by modern masters of painting, the museum displays paintings by artists of the 13th-20th centuries. The palace is surrounded by lush citrus gardens, which are worthy of attention in themselves.
Address: 3, avenue de la Madone
The cost of admission is 4 euros.
Closed for renovation in 2020.
Jean Cocteau Museum
In 1957, French artist, poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau was working on the painting of a wedding hall in Menton. The mayor of the city asked Cocteau to create a museum of his art in the city. The artist chose an abandoned 17th century bastion as the premises, which they gladly gave him.
Jean Cocteau himself participated in the restoration of the fortress and in the selection of works for the changing exhibitions. The artist believed that the museum should be constantly changing. In addition to Cocteau’s oil and watercolor paintings, the museum also exhibits ceramics, handmade tapestries and mosaic panels.
Address: Bastion du Vieux Port Quai Napoléon III
Every day (except Tuesday) from 10:00 to 18:00.
Tickets cost 3 euros, children under 14 years old are admitted free.
Address of the wedding hall: 17 rue de la République
Every day from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm, except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Tickets cost 2€, free up to 18 years.
Church of Saint-Michel
Climb the stone stairs from the Old Port to Saint-Michel Cathedral. Built in Baroque style, the cathedral was consecrated in the 18th century. Inside the cathedral, there are rich decorations, expensive icons and valuable works of art. Among them, for example, the painting “The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Orazio Ferrari. In the courtyard of the cathedral, paved in white and gray stone, an annual chamber music festival takes place.
Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh
The garden was created in the 19th century by the family of Lord Radcliffe, an honorary resident of Menton. Since 1967 the garden belonged to the National Museum of Natural History. Now the garden has several thematic zones: the pond, the Mediterranean zone, the garden of spices, the zone of medicinal plants. A special pride is the tropical fruit trees.
The address of the garden: av. Saint-Jacques
Hours of operation:
- 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. October 1 to March 31
- 9:30 to 12:30 and 2 to 6 p.m. April 1 to September 30
Closed May 1, December 25 and every Tuesday.
Admission costs 7 euros (children under 10 years old are free).
This is not the only garden where you can have a great time enjoying the shade and beauty. For example, the Valencian Garden Fontana Rosa was among the ten most beautiful gardens in France, in the Madonna greenhouse garden hides carefully preserved most thermophilic tropical plants from around the world. And of course, the ubiquitous citrus groves are Menton!
Marche des Halles de Menton
The covered market of Menton is over a hundred years old, but the carefully restored building is still a delight in its details. Inside, of course, you’ll find the best local products and immerse yourself in the local Franco-Italian flavor.
The market is open every day, but the busiest trade takes place on Saturdays in the morning. During this time, the stalls grow not only outside the market walls, but also in the nearby square.
Cemetery “Old Castle” (Vieux Château).
This unusual name this cemetery got because this place really once stood the ruins of an old castle, they belonged to the Prince of Monaco. In 1807, the mayor’s office acquired these lands. Surely, many would want to rest in this beautiful place. The mountain offers a magnificent view of the city and the sea.
In the 19th century, many Russian aristocrats wintered on the Côte d’Azur, including Menton. On the tombstones of the cemetery “Vieux Chateaux” are not uncommon Russian surnames, there is also a nice Orthodox chapel. A large Orthodox Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Nicholas the Wonderworker can be found at 14 rue Paul Morillot.
This is not all the attractions of the spa town. It is also worth visiting the gallery of modern art. Menton has other beautiful gardens, olive groves and rose plantations, because they produce essential oils for perfumery.