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Why visit Menton

"At nightfall... This scenery of a perched Menton, those bell-towers, those old houses have for our eyes and hearts the magic of the most precious places in the world." - Paul Valéry - French poet, essayist and philosopher (1871-1945).

Menton has a very distinct atmosphere about it that separates it from the rest of the French Riviera. In part it is perhaps because it is divided from the rest of France by the principality of Monaco and also because it is the last town in France before entering Italy.

Its situation means that it has a decidedly Italian flavour not least because it has, on several occasions in the course of the complicated history of these parts, been Italian but also, as a border town, it attracts many Italians to live and work in this part of France.

Apart from the Italian influence, which manifests itself in the food, the architecture and the spirit of the place there is something else about Menton, something different. The decorative buildings left over from the grandiose Belle Epoch era are present and correct but, rather than feeling like a pretty French town, Menton leaves an impression of something of and old Victorian spa town. There remains an Englishness that inexplicably lingers.

History of Menton

The history of Menton however goes far further back than the British tourist invasion of the late 1800's. Its history is less well documented than other towns on the French Rivera but there is evidence of early prehistoric man in these parts and it was certainly populated by pockets of the Ligurian tribes people that lived on the land across the entire region.

The first settlement, a fortified town on the hill, called Puypin, was documented in 1146. It was ruled under the Count Guido Guerra of Ventimiglia in a time before France or Italy existed as they do today.

The town developed closer to the sea along the Roman road Via Julia Augusta and in 1251 we hear mention of the name Menton for the first time. The town remained under the protection of Genoa and, with the rise of the Grimaldi family in the region, it fell under the ownership of Charles Grimaldi and became a part of Monaco.

Menton was important to Monaco as it was something of a garden to the Principality with the main activities being fishing and farming. It helped to feed the population.

Fortified Menton
My town is a garden, Menton, France
Sunny days in Menton, France
Italian style in Menton, France

Menton, A free town

However Menton's 4000 inhabitants at the time decided to break away from Monaco, in the year of 1848 some 500 years into its time under the Grimaldi family. The reasons were mostly economic reasons, and Menton declared itself a free city. It could only do this with help and protection from the Kings of Sardinia, sworn enemies of the ruling families of Genoa. It would be several more years before the fate of Menton would be entirely decided.

The future for Menton

In 1860, along with Nice, Menton elected to join France but in order to complete the arrangement Charles III of Monaco first had to waive his claim on the territories of Menton and Roquebrune. A 400million franc parting gift from Napoleon helped to sweeten the deal and Menton becomes fully, but not quite finally, French.

A period of calm followed and in the late 1800's Menton, with its particularly mild micro climate, became a favourite with British visitors. The climate became renowned for its restorative and curative powers for the consumptive ailments that plagued Britain at the time.

Probably the biggest influence over British interest was when Queen Victoria herself brought her haemophiliac son Leopold to Menton, in the hopes of finding some relief for him. There is nothing like a visiting royal to inspire the British upper classes and Menton soared in the popularity stakes.

The two world wars interrupted the flow of prosperity with many of the grandest hotels being converted into hospitals. Menton was annexed by Italy from 1940 until 1943 when it was then occupied by German troops.
Belle Menton
Menton, Centre Ville
A guilded past, Menton
Times past in Menton

Finally French

It is not until 1945 that Menton finally and permanently comes home to France. Europe was welcoming peace after dreadful years of war and there was nowhere better to recover and recuperate than the French Riviera. With barely a blink of an eye the gentle waves and sunny beaches were welcoming a new type of visitor who loved it and appreciated it perhaps even more than the generations of tourists that had first discovered the Cote d'Azur, the armed forces. What better place to rediscover the joys of life and the end of war than on the sparkling shores of Menton, Nice, Monaco and Cannes.

Tourism was off to a flying kick start and it has never waned since. Today Menton remains a firm British favourite on the French Riviera and there are many foreign owned homes and villas which helps it hold onto a hint of Britishness but it is delightfully tempered by an Italian style and sentiment and presented, of course, in impeccable French style.

Renting vacation apartments and villas in Menton

If Menton interests you as the destination for your holiday and you would like to see what vacation lettings are available then please use the search facility below. You can also click on 'Browse Rental' in the main menu to see all the options available for your 'vacance en France'. Thank you for using Riviera Rental Guide.


Some top holiday rentals in Menton

New Central Menton Apartment

French Riviera » Menton 40 sq.m. Apartment 0733
»Holiday rental apartment
»Price per night:$236.35
»Per person (x4):$59.09
Contemporary, City Centre
Modern apartment within minutes walk of the shops, old town and beachfront of Menton. It is the ideal base from which to access the many events held in Monaco, only 10 minutes by train, without having to pay the high hotel prices to stay there.

Menton Garavan Seaview Apartment

French Riviera » Menton 45 sq.m. Apartment 0727
»Holiday rental apartment
»Price per night:$236.35
»Per person (x5):$47.27
Sea View, Swimming Pool
Peaceful apartment with large garden and terrace in a residence with a swimming pool and parking. The apartment has great views over Garavan Bay and is only a 5-minute walk to the beach and 15 minutes walk to the centre of Menton.

Menton Old Town Apartment

French Riviera » Menton 37 sq.m. Apartment 0742
»Holiday rental apartment
»Price per night:$177.27
»Per person (x4):$44.32
Traditional, Sea View
Quaint apartment in a traditional house set amongst the enchanting cobbled streets of old town Menton, and around the corner from the impressive St Michel Basilica and Sablettes Beach. Its balcony has views over the rooftops and of the sea beyond.


Find your holiday rental in Menton


Immediate Area

» Cap Martin» Roquebrune Old» Roquebrune Cap
» Sainte-Agnes» Gorbio» Castellar
» Castillon 
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