This fortress sits at the top of the village and merges into the shape of the rock on which it stands.
Be sure to admire the decorations of the rooms on the upper floors, most of which were added in the 15th century. The main room is open to the sky. The fortress includes a prison, an armoury and a kitchen.
The views from the top are said to be spectacular (it rained so we could not see).
The " Colombières " garden
This garden was created by the painter and writer Ferdinand Bac between 1918 and 1927 for the Ladan-Bockairy family. It is a combination of little gardens, separated with mostly Latin species, rather than exotic ones, such as Cyprusses, Olives trees, Echium fastuosum or Caroubiers. It is important to go there and see the eldest French Caroubier with its funny shapes and cuts.
Each one of these small gardens generally highlights one different tyheme, generally taken from the greek and Latin mythology episodes. ( e.g. Ulysse's garden, Nausicaa's fountain etc.) A dozen " fabriques " (i.e. small picturesques buildings) guide the visitors through a mediterranean journey.
This garden is particularly famous for its views on the old city of Menton and its bay.
Finest garden design of the Riviera
Climbing several hundred feet up the hillside above the Villa Les Colombiers is the stunning garden set out by Ferdinand Bac. Winding paths, spectacular views, statuary mixed with balustrading, Roman arcades and pillars, tightly choregraphed garden design with an extraordinary vision
Visit only by arrangement with Tourist Office in Central Menton during July and early August only.
Menton: slow, sexy and sun-drenched
"Jean Cocteau's kind of town"
Jean Cocteau's love for Menton is stamped on his art museum by the harbour, as well as his marriage salon in the city hall. The balmy sunniness must have affected Cocteau deeply, along with the charms of the tanned natives, who in Cocteau's day apparently wore their own distinctive local dress.
"Cemetery with a view"
The city's main cemetery, overlooking the sea and the town, is filled with fascinating tombs and marble scupltures. The abundance of English names on the graves (such as the founder of the Rugby school) indicates how popular Menton once was for the well-heeled Poms to spend their twilight years. Amazing view makes one feel one is on a Greek island.
"Eat your heart out"
Menton has a great little selection of eateries, influenced equally by Italy and France, but also including ethnic diversions such as Morroccan. All at affordable prices, compared to larger centres such as Nice.
Menton is on the Cote D'Azure, so far along the coast it is virtually on the Italian border. It is reputed to have the best climate on the Cote, and because of it's location beyond the main centres of Nice, Cannes and Monaco, it is fairly quiet by comparison.
Because of it's proximity to Italy, there is a lot of Italian influence in both the architecture and the culture. Menton is typical of those places where Italian culture has crossed over, such as in Lugano in Switzerland.
"The Rue Longue"
This used to be the old Roman road from Italy into the south of France. It still follows it's original course, but nowadys it is crowded with shops and restaurants. here are two views, in different directions.
The tall buildings and the narrow streets make this area of town a good shady place to hide from that midday sun!
If you're not spooked out at the thought of looking round a cemetary, take a look at the one up by St. Michel. It's typical of the French style of cemetary, so unlike those we find in England. Even those graves and tombs that have been unattended for years still have a picturesque charm.
As an added bonus, you get a fantasic view from this elevated position.
"The Beach And Promenade"
The main bay sweeps round from beyond the Hotel Dauphin to roughly the Old Town. It then arcs in again as it sweeps round towards Italy. Here is a view across the bay, from in front of The Dauphin.
"The Promenade Du Soleil"
The Promenade Du Soleil is the main promenade. Behind it are most of the better hotels and some restaurants. Many of these places have seating out on the promenade, right by the beach, where they serve meals. It's a pleasant place to share a meal.
Where the main bay ends and begins it's second sweep, there stands The Bastion. This is a small fortress which nowadays houses the Jean Cocteau Museum.
"Plages Des Sablettes"
The smaller bay, beyond The Bastion is Les Plages Des Sablettes. It's more handily placed for getting up into the old town and is near one of the two marinas. From this marina you can (or could in 1990) take a boat trip to Monaco, which must be a fabulous way to enter that country! (We booked, but didn't go - time was too pressing).
This is above Les Plages Des Sablettes, but not as high as St. Michel. It's sort of between the two, and you can get to the criss-cross steps leading up to St. Michel from here. There are some pretty good restaurants around here, and a lovely view.
"Best Place To Eat!"
The best place we found to eat in Menton was....
On the rocks near to The Bastion! We used to buy slices of Pizza and bottles of wine and just go sit on these rocks and watch the Sun set! It was lovely!
"The Rest Of The Town"
The largest part of the town is behind the Promenade Du Soleil. As metioned, most of the hotels are here and in the street behind the Hotels lies most of the shops. In this area too is The Casino and Les Jardins Bioves. You get a great view of the mountains from here.
The best way for most visitors is to fly to Nice and then transfer by train or bus, whichever you prefer. Being non-flyers (up till now, anyway) we made the journey by train from England. This was a long and arduous journey taking almost 24 hours. It was fairly direct, though, and once we reached France (by ferry from Dover) we only had to change once, at Nice.
There is sometimes a small market on The Promenade Du Soleil in the early evening selling artistic goods - paintings, pottery, candles and so on. It was very pleasant and we bought some of our favourute souvenirs here.
Beyond Les Plages Des Sablettes are some more cafes - more of beach-style, with canopies to sit under. There is also a large (for Menton) supermarket near here. You can watch the traffic queues from here too, as all of the roads seem to converge into one for the journey over to Italy.
"Menton By Night"
Here's a view from the harbour wall looking back towards the old town.
The arches in the picture house a variety of beach shops, from cafes to deck chair hire and beachwear shops. Above the arches is The Quai Bonaparte, mentioned earlier, and the gap between the buildings is where the steps lead up to St. Michel.
Enjoy Menton. We did!
"Where To Stay"
We stayed at the Hotel Dauphin. This is right on the seafront at the western end of the beach. The majority of the nightlife, and the quaint "old town" part of menton is at the other end of the strip, which is maybe one reason why this hotel was fairly cheaply priced. To be honest, Menton isn't that big and the distance isn't a problem unless you're very lazy or unfit! It's a lovely walk, anyway!
The Dauphin is priced at 270 to 520 French Francs per double room per night, depending on season and including breakfast and taxes.
Address: 28, Av. du Général de Gaulle - 06500 MENTON
Our room faced out onto the Ocean - be sure to get one of these rooms. Breakfast on the balcony was a great way to start each day.
"The Old Town"
Menton has a very picturesque old town, full of Italian style buildings and narrow streets. It is topped by the magnificent church of St. Michel, which makes a fantastic sight by night or by day.
The way up to St. Michel is via some quaint steps which criss-cross back and forth on the way up. Part of the way up there is a fountain, so you can cool yourself off if the climb is wearing you out!
Here's a more detailed view of the Italianate tower of St. Michel.
"Chapelle De La Conception"
Also in this area above the old town is the Chapelle De La Conception, in a similar Italianate style.