The secret town of Menton…
Few people make the time and effort to stop in this colorful spot along the French Riviera, but I would debate that this is the most underrated town along the Mediterranean. With beautiful, inexpensive hotels lining the Sea and a rainbow back-drop of buildings, as you lounge on the beach, Menton makes the ideal town for a peaceful get-away. Located far away from the crowds, it’s as if the citizens took a vote to block out any potential travel agents from setting up shop here.
The truth is that I did not stumble across this town until the near end of my time in Europe. Despite it being just 15 minutes away, I had not had any reason or motive to stop in. One day, I came across an article on Pinterest with images of this city. After my initial denial that this place could exist so close without me knowing about it, I took a train to discover the beach village for myself. Sure enough, making my way through this town, I was drowned in the glory that is Menton, France.
I cannot say that I was mesmerized instantaneously, as it did take a few 100 meters away from the train station, to find the charm that this place is known for. In fact, I was semi put-off and disappointed walking through the less appealing streets that led towards the beach. But upon closing in at the center, the shops and people started coming to life.
In my first visit, I meandered through, taking a few notes from the article that I read, as my guide. Walking into the “main strip”, I discovered the reason people would want to hide this city from the clutches of commercialization. The many elderly residents can be seen stepping out of their houses for a happy hour of wine and olives (a glass of wine costing $3 here, olives complimentary).
There is a long stretch of beach beside the port, that is lined with beach chairs, towels, and the bikini clad French/Italian mix.
Side note: Menton is situated in between Monaco and Italy. It is a town that at one time was a part of Monaco, but was at some point, annexed by France. Now it consists of both French and Italian dwellers. It is most well-known for the lemons that are produced here. This can be seen in many shops here, at the annual Lemon Festival, and with the common lemonade/lemoncello options on the menus.
Located just behind the sand, are bars, ice cream parlors, and convenience shops. This makes it ideal for any type of beach day.
If you’re in the mood for a little hike, there is a beautiful staircase that leads up to a massive church. Just beyond that, one can make their way to the cemetery that overlooks the entire city. The grave site is just as lovely as the rest of the city, filled with intricately engraved stones and gates, keeping all of the spirits from flowing off the hill top, into the streets below.
If I had the option to take my friends and family through a tour of the French Riviera, Menton would be one of my ideal stops. This is not a party location per say, but one that gives you the opportunity to enjoy the company you’re with, while reveling in the full European experience.