Along the Boulevard du Soleil Menton has a long stretched beach, the Plages des Sablettes near the old town offer the best views. The "Sablettes" however should not be taken litteraly as sand is not available here. The gravle is fine, but still no sand. The water however clear and also for children the place is quite good, as the depth is only gradually going down.
The Marina of Menton is not like many other Cote d'Azur harbours a massive construction to house as many as possible boats in it. The Menton harbour is not that large and lays directly next to the old town that offers great restaurants, culture, history and entertainment in various ways for the sailors. Menton harbour is also a joy to walk around and dream to one day also come here by boat.
Steep the road climbs up from the outskirts of Menton. The narrow road makes it impossible for cars to pass one another so we pray that no-one is coming down at this moment. The raod leads to the monastry of " l'Annonciade" high above the town on a rock. The place was built in the 17th century and is very popular in Maria pelgrimages. From a hight of 225 meters one can enjoy the panorama, as well as the msytique of the chapel and the monastry. The gardens surrounding it are equally worth the detour.
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.
Palais Carnolès, Carnoles Palace in English - is the former summer residence of the Grimaldi family of Monace-Montecarlo. It is now a museum with an interesting collection of European paintings from the Renaissance to the present day. The halls of the palace are quite impressive, too.
What I liked best about this palce is its gardens, which houses the largest collection of citrus trees in Europe... though I think that this fact is debatable. What it not debatable is the "bigarade", a strange and rare fruit known as the bitter orange, which is more or less a fruit that is a combination of a lemon and a sour orange. Statues are scattered all around the palace gardens.
One of the most unusual specimens in the garden is the variety ' Bizzaria'. In Menton this is labelled as a 'bigarade' - sour or bitter orange - although the information booklet suggests it is the variety described by Risso in 1818. If so, it would actually be a chimera of a citron and sour orange. However, on my visit in August 2002, I could see no signs of the irregular stripes shown in drawings by Risso and others.
The palace is open Wednesday to Monday, between 10 AM and midday, and 2 PM to 6 PM.
Basilique St-Michel is a Baroque Basilique located on a delightful square called Parvis St-Michel and covered with pebblestones in mosaic style. You can see its 53 metres high bell tower (built in 1701) from everywhere in Menton.
The basilique is open every day from 10 to midday and in the afternoon from 3 to 5. The nave and chapels are covered in frescoes and contain several works by Genovese artists. Not to miss is the 17th-century organ and the grimaldi coats of arm - dating back to the time when Menton was part of the Grimaldi's reign.
Long before funeral houses existed, there used to be charities, companies and brotherhoods that helped the sick and the dying. The members of these groups were known as penitents or brothers - hence the name Chapelle de Pénitents Blancs - Chapel of the white penitents.
The white penitents had their headquarter in this chapel in pure Baroque style, which dates back to 1687. Though nothing to write home about if seen from outside, inside it's a true delight: you can see some fine ornate gilt lanterns that the penitents carried in processions and, over the altar, a truly wonderful and large trompe l'oeil. One of the best I have ever seen. Photography, unfortunately, is not allowed.
The Place aux Herbes - the herbs' square - is a little and delightful corner of old Menton. it is located in the heart of the old town, with the pedestrian shopping street Rue Saint Michel on one side. Opposite Rue Saint Michel, on the other side of the square, there's an improbable arched wall. The other two sides of the square are occupied by restaurants. In the middle there's a quaint and old little fountain.
The name of this square suggests that in the past a herbs market used to take place here. Herbs are no longer sold, here, but the market tradition is carried on every Friday, where there's a flea market selling old objects and antiquities.
When lving in Menton Jean Cocteau decorated the wedding hall inside the town hall - and once he was finished, he thought he wanted to decorate some other building. He then chose the decaying bastion/fort along the sea promenade and restored it. While he was busy carrying out his restoration works, he knew that he wanted this bastion to become his museum - so he planned the inside spaces accordingly.
When you visit it you will see some really interesting tapestries and an impressive staircase. There are also drawings, ceramics and pastels. Outside the bastion, by the museum's entrance, there are some really fine mosaics made with simple white and grey pebble stones - possibly a homage to the pavements mosaics that you can see near the cathedral.
The Bastion is actualy not really a bastion but a small fort crowned with four tiny watchtowers which dates back to 1619. It was built by Honoré II, Prince of Monaco, and its purpose was that of defending the bay of Menton.
At some point the fort was abandoned, until the artist Cocteau decided to restore it and use it as its studio. The authorities gave him permission, of course - so the tower was saved.