Menton - The last town on the French Riviera
The coastal town of Menton marks the end of the French Riviera on the east side. In fact, it's the very last town on the south coast before crossing the Italian border. Known as the 'Pearl of France,' Menton doesn't disappoint and offers an authentic glimpse into the luxuries of the Cote d'Azur. On the whole, Menton is a welcomed extension of the coast.
This charming town is home to historical monuments such as Saint Michel Basilica and renowned art institutions including the Jean Cocteau Museum. You’ll also find several manicured gardens. These green spaces showcase the best of Mediterranean flora and fauna. When you’re not marveling at military fortifications or admiring landscaped gardens, you’ll likely be enjoying seafood in the harbor or exploring the winding roads of nearby Mercantour National Park.
A Stroll Around the Old Town
Menton's Old Town is where you'll get your history fix and culture kick. You'll find a number of historical monuments and places of interest, including the Basilica of Saint Michel Archange. Built around 1653, and dedicated to the Prince Honore de Monaco, this Baroque Roman catholic church features a 17th-century organ. The building's yellow and green facade make it quite hard to miss when exploring the Old Town on foot.
Similarly, the baroque architecture found on the Chapel of the White Penitents is also impressive. The chapel once belonged to Catholic laypeople in 1680 and today still stands tall in the center of the Old Town.
For your fix of greenery, add the Val Rahmeh Garden to your Menton to-do list. This picturesque botanical garden dates back to the 19th-century. The gardens are home to exotic trees, a fish pond, and subtropical plants. There's over one hectare of land to explore! In addition to this, another green area of interest is the absolutely spectacular Madonna's Greenhouse. Designed by American businessman Lawrence Johnson in the 1920s, the gardens are quintessentially French and delicately designed.
The Jean Cocteau Museum
No trip to Menton's is truly complete without brushing up on the history of Jean Cocteau. Cocteau, a French poet, playwright, and novelist (amongst other things), was a frequent resident of Menton. The poet stayed in Santo Sospir villa and, as such, developed a deep love for the town. He became an honorary citizen of Menton in 1958 after decorating the town's wedding hall. The Jean Cocteau Museum honors and protects the work of Cocteau. Inside you’ll find over 1000 graphic works. The museum spreads across seven sections, and guests can enjoy a guided tour of the exhibits or explore at leisure.
A Road Trip to Sainte Agnes
Just a short drive north of Menton sits the commune of Sainte Agnes. The small town overlooks Menton and the Mediterranean Sea. Subsequently, it has been a popular road trip destination for years.
The area's main draw is the Fort of the Maginot Line. This historical landmark is an old military base. The fort shares its name with the former Minister of War, Andre Maginot, and consists of concrete barricades. The barricades were previously used to deter a German invasion. The fort has been open to the public since 1978. Hence visitors jump at the chance to explore the Maginot Line Museum. Inside you'll find an array of historical artifacts, including weaponry.
To get to Sainte Agnes, FranceRent can organize a private transfer by car. Alternatively, you can arrive by helicopter. The journey by road takes just under 30-minutes and involves sublime switch-back roads. However, the flight time is considerably shorter. From the air, you can enjoy spectacular birds-eye views of the French countryside and Mediterranean coastline.
A Gateway to the Roya Valley
While Menton is entertainment enough, it also functions as a gateway to the nearby Roya Valley. The valley runs north from Menton to the small town of Tende. The road winds its way through traditional French villages as it goes. The area is a popular destination with hikers thanks to the surrounding Mercantour National Park. Consequently, you’ll notice plenty of walking trails. Day trips from Menton to the Roya Valley should cover the towns of Breil-sur-Roya. Don’t forget to visit Saorge, Fontan, and La Brigue too.
One notable stop on the Roya Valley route is the Notre Dame de la Menor. This spectacular chapel sits atop a grassed stairway surrounded by rolling green hills. You'll find it on the road between Sospel and Moulinet, just 11-miles north of Menton. If you enjoy photography, don't forget your camera as this particular church is picture-perfect.
Alternatively, another picture-perfect area nearby is the Tete de Chien. While not technically part of the Roya Valley, the Tete de Chien offers elevated views over the French Riviera. This rocky promontory stands at 550 meters high, and you'll find it just a short drive from the village of La Turbie. The rocky outcrop is the highest point on the Grande Corniche road, and, as such, offers unrivaled views as far as the eye can see. The outcrop is also one of the most visited spots on the route. On a clear day (which is most of the year-round) you’ll be able to see Monaco from your position on the rock.
Admittedly sometimes, when planning a trip to the French Riviera, the town of Menton is forgone in favor of the bright lights of Nice, Cannes, and Monaco. However, this seaside resort town has just as much charm, glamour, and character as the bigger cities dotted along the coast. Menton also holds its own when it comes to boutique accommodation, fine-dining restaurants, and picturesque harbors. Undoubtedly, Menton has worked hard to earn the nickname of the 'Pearl of France.' In short, give Menton a shot.
From Nice Cote d'Azur Airport, Menton is just a 40-minute drive or a short boat ride away. FranceRent can take care of all your luxury transfers needs in advance of your trip. If you want to touch down in Menton in style, consider chartering a yacht or arriving by private helicopter from Monaco. Alternatively, Menton makes a great end destination for those looking to sail the French Riviera from west to east.
Top activities on Cote d'Azur
The scenic stretch of coastline known as the Cote d’Azur winds its way along France’s south coast from Saint Tropez to Menton, encompassing the chic towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco along the way. The area is known as a playground for the rich and famous, and a glamorous holiday destination for those looking to soak up the very best of the French Riviera. When it comes to Cote d’Azur attractions, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit along the coast to keep all character types entertained. Whether you’re exploring Nice’s charming Old Town on a free walking tour, people-watching at Monte Carlo Harbor, or admiring 19th-century art in Cannes, the Cote d’Azur doesn’t disappoint.
Best restaurants on Cote d'Azur - France
Famous for its designer fashion brands, rolling vineyards, and historic monuments, France is a country with a lot to offer but it’s the nation’s gourmet cuisine that draws millions of visitors year after year. French dishes, which are usually full of flavor, made using simple ingredients, and boasting great finesse, have been replicated around the globe by passionate chefs aiming to try their hand at traditional dishes and haute cuisine. Below we’ve looked at some of the best restaurants in the south of France. Whether you’re looking for fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant (France is home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world) or hearty French cuisine at an authentic bistro, we’ve covered all dining options to suit every taste in this restaurant guide.
Events and festivals on French Riviera
The Cote d’Azur is abuzz with glitz and glamour all year round but it’s the summer months that really get the party started on France’s sought-after south coast. Events and festivals are held every month and range from theatre performances and music festivals to cinematography celebrations and yacht races. A-listers, millionaires, and outright party people flock to the shores of the Mediterranean for a summer to remember as seaside towns and secluded beaches become the stomping ground for a summer of fun. Below we take a look at some of the best events and festivals on the Côte d’Azur and provide a handy event guide to help you plan your dream trip.
Shopping on Cote d’Azur
It’s no secret that the South of France is an area well known for its acquired taste in luxury living, and when it comes to shopping this affluent region has a real flair for fashion and a lot to offer for shopaholics. Dare to drag yourself away from the alluring arrondissements of Paris’s fashion district and you’ll be rewarded with a sunsoaked shopping haven on Cote d’Azur and when it comes to shopping, the French Riviera does not disappoint. From upmarket department stores like Galeries Lafayette (whose flagship store you’ll find in Paris) to independent art galleries including the Sheun Gallery in Nice, the array of shopping available on Cote d’Azur covers a variety of tastes and, believe it or not, can be tailored to suit all budgets.
Boat activities on Cote d'Azur - France
The French Riviera, also known as the Cote d'Azur, is found on France's south-east coast and overlooks the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Known for its dazzling sand beaches, upmarket resort towns, and glamorous casinos, the Cote d'Azur has been a popular holiday destination with some of the world's wealthiest travelers since the 18th century. While boutique shops and Michelin-starred restaurants are certainly points of interest on the coast, one of the biggest draws is the array of water-based activities available. From yacht rentals, private boat tours, parasailing excursions, water sport rentals, and jet ski hire, the list of aqua-excursions is endless! Our simple guide to boat rental on the French Riviera takes a look at the different watersports available along the coast and the range of yacht and boat rentals available. After all, no visit to the Cote d'Azur can pass by without a day at sea.
South of France by car
With 71 miles of winding corniche roads, numerous quaint Provincial villages to visit, and endless soft sand beaches to stop at and enjoy some sun-soaking, France’s Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s dreamiest road trip destinations. Rent a car on the French Riviera and the Mediterranean Sea and the charm of southern France is at your fingertips! On your Riviera road trip, you’ll wind your way around a variety of landscapes, soak up a diverse range of cultures, and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastline. After all, there’s no better way to navigate the coast than to do so with the comfort and freedom of your own vehicle.