Back in May, at the end of a work-related trip in the south of France, I spent one day in sunny Menton. I’m starting at the end instead of at the beginning but this city was just that impressive! My friend Vanessa invited me to the south of France for a week of discovering Menton and its surroundings. If you’re curious to know more, you can read all about it in her blog post. In short, we had spent that week getting to know the lesser-known villages in the mountains behind Menton, all of which are enchanting and deserve more visitors. But for now, let’s focus on Menton and the one night we spent there!

view of menton and a woman in a hat

We arrived late in the evening, to grey clouds covering Menton. But what I’ll always remember is the morning after. When we got up for sunrise at 6 AM and were greeted with sunshine, almost oppressive heat and one would almost say proper summer weather. We did spot quite a few swimmers later that day and I could completely understand that. Even though I kept thinking that it was mid-May after all!

woman walking down the colorful streets of menton

Menton on a sunny day comes alive like no other city. It’s basically an explosion of colors! Situated next to the Italian border, the influence of Italian architecture is clear in the city palette. The narrow streets are replete with endless colorful houses! Menton is famous for its lemons grown on a specific territory and with a unique taste. In fact, every February a lemon festival takes place in this city! Fête du Citron celebrates Menton’s specialty lemons and attracts more than 200,000 visitors. Basically, all the warm colors are present in every aspect of this city. The most famous sight in Menton is the zigzag staircase leading up to the cathedral. Distinctively shaped and of a vibrant yellow color, it’ll immediately catch your eye!

woman holding onto a hat on menton stairs

Due to previously made reservations, our visit to Menton was a swift one. Including an impromptu lunch from a stand next to Marché des Halles, the local food market. That being said, those local delicacies we had from La socca et les pizzas de Mimi were delicious! Endless hours of sunshine and its unique location between the mountains and the sea has earned Menton the nickname “The pearl of France”. Looking back on my time here, I completely understand the appeal.

One of the more famous sights in Menton is the cemetery of the Old Castle. You will find it on top of the old town with a magnificent view of the harbor. As the name suggests, it’s built on top of old castle ruins and is a beautiful cemetery. Some of the crypts and graves look like works of art from the Belle Époque era. The orange rooftops of the old town spread themselves under your feet and the view is marvelous from every angle.

view of menton from the old chateau cemetery
old chateau cemetery in menton

It’s easy to lose yourself in the many tiny streets of Menton. Personally, I wish we had had more time for wandering around. The city was so picturesque and idyllic on an empty Thursday morning. While seaside destinations aren’t my first pick when it comes to traveling, Menton left me wishing for more time. Even the Jean Cocteau Museum caught my eye. An intriguing and surreal piece of architecture, merely seeing its exterior felt like a museum visit!

woman sitting on a cliff looking at menton at sunrise

The Basilica of Saint-Michael the Archangel is the city cathedral, a baroque church on a small square. Right next to it is Rampe Saint-Michel, the zigzag staircase I mentioned earlier. From here on out, there is no wrong choice of direction. Every street will look scenic, making you look up and behind you. And this colorful maze of tall narrow streets that is Menton is extremely inviting!

empty square in sunny menton

Looking back, it was a short but memorable visit. I already know I’ll return to Menton sometime in the future. Not only for this city but all the adjoining towns on the French Riviera. I took the train from Nice to Menton and genuinely wanted to stop at every single train station in between. Nestled into cliffs and surrounded by a bay, they all looked so charming. Getting to see a glimpse of Côte d’Azur through Menton was a delight and I can’t wait to return!

beach in menton at sunrise
woman using a binocular telescope for a view of menton
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Brigita Soldo

Travel Photographer · Creative Content Creator · Vintage & Sustainable Fashion Advocate

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