Annual Lemon Festival
Around the time of Carnival in February, Menton stages the spectacular Festival of the Lemon.
In addition to various parades, the Jardin Boives is turned into a display of ...of ..of ... is there a word for "making something out of lemons? "Citrifications"? Whatever, each of the towns and villages nearby contributes a construction covered in lemons, and on this occasion oranges too, as the theme was dedicated to "Viva Espana"
Each Sunday lemon floats parade along the Baie de Soleil, with musical groups and costumes, and the festival culminates in a spectacular firework display. Following which I would guess most of the residents have had it up to here with vitamin C and don't want to see another lemon for at least another year.
Fontana rosa (pink fountain)
Fontana Rosa's Garden looks like no other in the area because it is unique by its originality. It used to belong to the Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibanez and was bequeathed to his son in 1957. After his widow's death in 1939, the property was devasted by world war 2 and then diused. The " atmosphere " and style of this garden are more on less the same as Arabo-Persian and Andalusian gardens.
From all sides you can see constructions covered with polychrome ceramic which suggest scenes and themes dear to Blasco Ibanez. In a way, this garden is a sort of homage to Ibanez's favorite writers: Cervantès, Dickens, Shakespeare... Either a bench, a fountain or a rotunda has been dedicated to each one of these writers.
Elegant ebble mosaics can be seen in and around Parvis Saint-Michel - St.Michel square. This square - the most impressive of all (see photo) - is paved with mosaic cobblestones in the shape of the Grimaldi coat of arms. The Grimaldi were the former ruling family of Menton and this square was created in the 17th century by Prince Honoré II; try to spot his signature (the letter H) mingled into the design.
Heading down towards the sea, following the sets of old stone staircases, you can see other simpler examples of decorative mosaic cobblestones. Each time you reach a lower level (there are three), the little squares or landings that you find there, aredecorated in a different way. To see them, click on the small photos.
Lush growth at every turn
A back garden with lemons, Yuccas, lilac flowerings, all perfectly set against blue sky and ochre washed walls. The Mediterranean is trying to tell you why it is - as one villa on the crest of the Boulevard des Colombiers is named, "Paradise"
Menton - lemons, flowers, and Jean Cocteau
"Last stop before Italy"
The pretty town of Menton signals the change from France into Italy, with its Italianate architectural style in abundance, colourful displays of flowers in its parks, and above all, the abundance of lemon trees.
The baroque cathedral rises from out the tightly-packed houses of the old town, built out on a hill. The colours here become more daring as they reach closer to the Italian border, less than a thousand metres away. The soft creams and pale yellows of Nice by now have turned to rich terracota and vivid ochres, contrasted with blue or green shutters.
In the four levels of the cimitieres of the old church is written the ecclectic history of Menton. Russian princes mix with grand italian families, and consumptive British expatriates. Victorian romantic illustrator Aubrey Beardsley is here (courtesy of tuburculosis at age 26), along with William Webb, founder of Rugby, and many sickly English girls sent here in Victorian times, unsuccessfully, for their health. Many health tourists unfortunately wasted their return ticket.
The Jardin Boives runs through the centre of the town, lined with Citrus trees and filled with exotic palms and colourful plantings.
Menton is said to enjoy the most sheltered and favoured climate on the Riviera. It quickly became the focus of gardeners who came from throughout Europe to found their grand designs, often nestling in the hillside and set against pure blue sky.
There are many grand private gardens in Menton, and admission can be arranged for guided group visits on select days through the helpful Tourist Office, conveniently situated alongside the Jardin Boives.
In Carnival time every February the town gives itself over to the festival of the lemon, which is said to be the rival of all other varieties.
"Finest views over Menton from Boulevard Garavan"
Walking in the direction of Italy along the Bay de Garavan, avoid the flat harbour road with its relentless line of unlovely holiday apartment blocks, and instead take the high road - the Boulevard de Garavan.
This is the key to access the exotic gardens, beautifil villas and finest views of Menton - from above. Here hardy Euphorbia grows gigantic, and Bouganvilliea in rich profusion. The villas are sumptuous and you will access the beauty of Menton, hidden from those for whom it is merely somewhere to lie on the beach.