Notes and Pictures from the Côte d’Azur (5) – Menton

Menton

This series finishes in the last town along the Côte d’Azur, just a few kilometres from the Italian border. Menton is mainly known for its lemons and this can already give you an idea that this is not going to be a party hotspot. So if you’re looking for a quiet place to spend a day or so along the Côte d’Azur and like places that feel like time has stood still, Menton is the place. I spent about twenty four hours there, but you could easily do all the things below in a day trip from Nice.

Menton

Lemons everywhere

I’ve already mentioned lemons, so let’s start with them.  The town hosts an annual lemon festival from mid February to early March. Lemon trees actually grow here year round due to Menton’s micro climate, so you’ll be able to get any amount of citrusy souvenirs, including lemon-infused olive oil, honey, limoncello, lemon flavoured biscuits, lemon scented soap …

Marché des Halles de Menton

Marché des Halles de Menton

Another place to try local produce is the municipal market. It is held every morning and is located in a beautifully restored building.

spice stall at Menton market

 

Menton Market

On Saturday mornings there is also a clothes market. The morning I was leaving (a Friday), there was a large antiques market across the street just behind the Jean Cocteau museum at Place aux Herbes.

Outdoor antiques market, Menton

Outdoor antiques market Menton

 

For more information about Menton markets, see here.

Old Town

Like Cannes, Menton’s Old Town is a steep uphill walk, but well worth it for the views you get up at the Chapelle des Penitents Blancs.

Menton

 

Menton

The walk up through the winding streets past pastel coloured houses is very pictureseque.

Menton old town, the walk up

Jean Cocteau Museum

Each town along the Côte d’Azur is associated with (at least) one artist and for Menton this is Jean Cocteau. Menton is home to not one but three Jean Cocteau attractions, the first of which is the museum, which is adjacent to the municipal market. It’s easily recognisable with its surreal structure.

Jean Cocteau museum, Menton

The museum consists of a permanent collection of Cocteau’s art donated by Séverin Wundermann and also holds temporary exhibitions. In the basement you can watch clips from some of his films such as Beauty and the Beast and the Blood of a Poet.

Jean Cocteau museum Menton
With the exception of some public holidays, the museum is open every day except Tuesdays. You can check opening times and ticket prices here.

Musée du Bastion

Included in the museum ticket price is a visit to the Musée du Bastion (also closed on Tuesdays). The ticket is actually valid (for one visit) for a number of days. This means that if you don’t have time to go to the Bastion after you’ve visited the main Cocteau museum you can still do so the next day. I can’t remember exactly how many days it’s valid, but it is written on the ticket.

Exhibit inside Musee du Bastion

Cocteau himself designed the Bastion museum and is well worth a visit for the building alone.

Musee du Bastion

Afterwards, you can walk along the fortification wall by the sea. Continuing along the fortification walking away from the museum will bring you to the old port.

View of Musee du Bastion from the fortifications

 

Menton

Salles des Mariages

The third Cocteau sight in Menton is the Salles des Mariages in the Town Hall. At the request of the mayor, Cocteau designed the whole room, from the flooring, mirrors, furnishings to the frescoes on the walls and ceilings. The room can be viewed as long as there is no wedding taking place. Keep in mind that it closes at 16:30.

There are also guided tours which cost a little more and I believe are available only in French. For more information see the town’s official website.

Cocteau Salles des Mariages Menton

Beaches

The beaches I saw in Menton were pebbled, but apparently there are also sandy ones. As in other places in this part of the world, a great way to finish the day is with a walk on the beach.

Menton

So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed reading this little series. Do you have any recommendations about travelling along the Côte d’Azur? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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