Need an escape? A trip to Menton, France, a lively, yet charming town along the Mediterranean coast, might be just what you’re looking for. So, we’ve put together a perfect 2 day itinerary for Menton, complete with where to stay, what to eat, and some ideas for day trips, too.
If you haven’t heard of Menton before, you’re not alone. When people think of France, their thoughts often dart to fabulously cosmopolitan Paris, with its grand avenues, the Eiffel Tower, and stately Hausmann architecture.
Paris is urban, bustling, and full of wonder, and yes, this Parisian landscape does epitomize France in so many ways.
But, did you know that there’s also a softer, slower (and warmer, for that matter) side of France? A place where the temperature hardly ever dips below a cool breeze, where fresh seafood is on the menu year round, and where palm trees line wide promenades overlooking the turquoise Mediterranean?
We’re talking about the French Riviera, a world renowned collection of seaside villages and resorts, a place where sleepy fishing towns meet the glamor of casinos and yachts.
Somehow relaxed and exciting at the exact same time, the French Riviera is a place of escape, for both the French and foreigners alike.
Menton is the perfect embodiment of the Riviera: a town that’s somehow bustling and relaxing at the same time, offering just enough in the way of attractions to keep you busy, but similarly beckoning you to laze away on the beach.
Menton is conveniently located near Nice, Monaco, Saint-Jean-de-Cap, and the Italian border, making this little Mediterranean gem the ideal spot for a weekend trip.
Where to stay in Menton, France
With your transportation sorted, it’s time to choose a home base for your 2 days in Menton, France. We recommend staying in the old town—especially if you are following the itinerary we’ve laid out—as it will allow for incredibly easy walks to and from attractions and the waterfront.
While there aren’t any hostels in town, budget travelers fret not, because Menton’s accommodation is moderate in price.
The Hôtel de Belgique has a great location and even better prices, and true to its name, the ibis budget Menton is great for budget travelers, too.
Once the logistics of your trip are locked down, it’s time to get to the fun part–your itinerary. Apart from being a Mediterranean gem in its own right, Menton’s location along the famed French Riviera makes this small city an ideal destination for a 48 hour trip.
The first day of our itinerary is focused on getting acquainted with this city, exploring the best Menton tourist attractions, all of which are accessible to one another by very manageable walking distances.
Day two is all about day trips from Menton, because a visit here simply wouldn’t be complete without getting a taste of all that this region has to offer. We’ve outlined our favorite day trips from Menton to help narrow down your choices.
So, for those of you wondering, Is Menton worth visiting? The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s dive in (which reminds us, don’t forget to bring a bathing suit!)
How to get to Menton, France
Conveniently located along one of the most popular coastlines in all of Europe, Menton’s proximity to the likes of Nice, Monaco, and the neighboring Italian resort towns means it is quite convenient to get to.
The closest airport is the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, a small international hub that services most major cities in Europe and even some outside the continent, too. From Nice, local transport is available to Menton via local train, and it takes approximately 1 hour.
Thanks to the region’s booming tourism industry, public transport is plentiful in this part of France, so you shouldn’t have an issue catching a train or bus to Menton from most major and middle sized cities in France.
Plan your trip?
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Overview of 2 Days in Menton Itinerary
Day 1 in Menton
- Fine Arts Museum / Carnolès Palace
- Elisée Reclus Garden
- Plage du Borrigo
- Jardins Biovès
- Le Petit Train Touristique de Menton
- Jean Cocteau Museum
- Menton Viewpoint
- Cemetery of the Old Château
- Plage des Sablettes
- Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden
- Dinner in Old Town
Day 2 in Menton (day trip options):
Day 1 of your Menton itinerary
We embark on your first of 2 days in Menton, France with a day long walking tour of this lovely seaside city.
Day 1 is focused on getting acquainted with the city, stopping at attractions that are all within easy walking distance of one another.
The entirety of the day’s walk spans roughly 45 minutes and 3.5 kilometres total, with plenty of stops in between. If walking isn’t your thing, the city operates a convenient bus line that can help you get from point to point.
Fine Arts Museum / Carnolès Palace
Let’s start the day at Menton’s Fine Arts Museum, a palatial art museum housed within an actual palace, the Palace of Carnolés.
Once the summer home of Antoine I Grimaldi, the prince of nearby Monaco, the museum houses impressive works of art and is a venerable work of art in its own right.
With its gold adorned decor and floors so fancy you won’t want to walk on them, it’s no wonder this extraordinary building was chosen to house an art museum.
Located just a short walk from old town Menton, the Fine Arts Museum is an ideal jumping off point for your day in Menton.
Elisée Reclus Garden
An incredibly pleasant 10 minute seaside walk from the Fine Arts Museum brings you to the Elisée Reclus Garden, a waterfront oasis framed by palm trees and mesmerizing fountains.
Plage du Borrigo
A mere 2 minute walk away from the Elisée Reclus Garden, you’ll find the Plage du Borrigo, a classic Mediterranean seaside escape bordered by a few charming waterfront restaurants and bars.
While the beach tends to get crowded, it remains popular with locals and tourists alike for its laid back atmosphere and calm waters. Stop by for a midday reprise from the sun, and for a bit of relaxation, too.
After soaking up some sun and relaxation at the beach, it’s time to continue on your walking tour of Menton. Next stop is the Jardins Biovès, an intimate urban park that spans several blocks and features fascinating sculptures and fountains throughout.
During the city’s famed annual Lemon Festival, this park comes alive with whimsical citrus themed sculptures.
The Lemon Festival takes place yearly for several weeks in February and March, and if you’re in the area, you won’t want to–and probably can’t–miss it.
You’ll also find tons of cafes and restaurants dotting the park’s border, inviting you to take a midday coffee break with a view of this pretty park.
Le Petit Train Touristique de Menton
Whether you’re traveling with kids or not, Menton’s ‘petit train’ is a charming and unique way to spend an hour or so getting to know the city.
The train chugs uphill and caps of the ride with an impressive view of the town below and surrounding mountains in the distance.
Museum Jean Cocteau The Bastion
After your panoramic train ride through Menton, a breezy 3 minute walk will take you to the Museum Jean Cocteau, one of the premiere sights in the city.
Formerly a military fortress built on the shores of the Mediterranean, this impressive fortification now houses a small museum with incredible views of the sea and beyond.
Another short walk away, you’ll find the Menton Viewpoint, a wonderfully scenic panoramic viewing point of the city and old port.
The viewing point also features the Statue Saint Michel, an imposing metal sculpture of Saint Matthew that rests right on the waterfront. This is a great midday stop for photos, people watching, and unforgettable views.
Cemetery of the Old Château
While a cemetery might seem like an odd choice for tourists, some are simply too beautiful to pass.
Menton’s Cemetery of the Old Château is one such cemetery, a hilltop sanctuary complete with unique sculptures and 360 degree views of the Mediterranean below.
Just a 10 minute walk from the Menton Viewpoint, this is well worth a stop on your walking tour of the city.
Plage des Sablettes
At this point in the day, you’re probably ready for a beach break, and we wouldn’t blame you. Take a short walk over to the Plage des Sablettes, a serene beach with calm waters, thanks to the fact that it’s sheltered by rock jetties.
The waters are clear, and you’ll likely find ducks splashing about nearby. Also, if you fancy a late afternoon snack or drink, there are plenty of beachfront spots nearby to satisfy your cravings.
Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden
The last stop on your daytime itinerary is the Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden, roughly a 15 minute walk from the Plage des Sablettes.
This expansive garden is undeniably Mediterranean, with fresh lemons and towering palm trees dotting the landscape in every direction.
You’ll find colorful flower gardens, ivy covered pergolas, ponds with giant lily pads, and so much more. A trip to Menton would not be complete without a visit to their famed botanical garden.
Dinner in Old Town
As your first day in Menton winds to a close, it’s time to think about what you’ll have for dinner. Thanks to its proximity to both the seaside and Italy, Menton’s cuisine is a delicate blend of French, Italian, and Mediterranean flavors.
Think seafood pastas, fresh fish, and locally sourced produce. Some of our favorite spots for local flavors in Menton’s scenic old town include JR Bistronomie (seafood, pasta, salads); A Boire a Manger (meat); Little Italy Restaurant (Italian food); La Mandragore and A Braijade Meridiounale (local fare).
Nightlife in Menton
This corner of the Mediterranean is known for its casinos (the famed Monaco casino is just a few towns away), and Menton is no exception to that.
Just outside the Jardins Biovès is the Casino Barrière, a beachfront casino that offers the ritzy feel of the French Riviera without having to travel to Monaco. Be sure to bring your passport, because they’ll check it at the door.
If casinos aren’t your thing, there are plenty of jovial hangouts nearby. We recommend O’Frais for a wide selection of drinks and a nice outdoor area, or INKY Bar for some of the best craft cocktails in town.
Day 2 of your Menton itinerary
On the last of your 2 days in Menton, France, we recommend taking advantage of this city’s superb location on the Mediterranean coast and exploring one of the many enticing destinations nearby.
There is truly so much to explore within a day trip’s distance from Menton that it might be hard to decide. But here are some of our favorite choices for day trips from Menton, France.
We’d be remiss to talk about day trips from Menton without giving a nod to Italy. Superbly located just 3.2 kilometres and 10 minutes driving from the Italian border, a weekend in Menton could very easily include an Italian pitstop.
So, grab your passport (there aren’t any passport checks at the border, but it’s good to have nonetheless), and let’s explore the Italian side of the Riviera.
Just 30 minutes by car from Menton (there are also options by train), you’ll find Sanremo, one of the most famous cities on the Italian Riviera.
Sanremo is a waterfront gem, dotted by imposing palm tree framed villas, long promenades, and a small, yet pleasant swimming beach.
While the city’s time as a seaside escape for the rich and famous have long passed, it has retained a faded ritzy charm characteristic of a town that was once perhaps as glitzy as nearby Monaco.
Sanremo’s medieval town center is also worth a visit; it is almost entirely a pedestrian zone and houses plenty of shops and cafes to wander into. As a former playground for the rich, Sanremo naturally offers a casino for those interested.
There are also impressive museums, a famous cathedral, and fantastic local foods (pesto sauce was created in this region of Italy).
We also recommend stopping by nearby San Remolo, a village situated above Sanremo with soaring views of the coastline below:
- Santo Stefano al Mare
- Grimaldi di Ventimiglia
If a former playground for the rich and famous doesn’t quite cut it, and you’d rather see modern day Riviera glam in all its glory, Monaco is the place for you. Just 20 minutes driving or 20 minutes by local train from Menton, Monaco simply epitomizes seaside European luxury.
Of course, there’s the world renowned Casino de Monte Carlo, which is certainly worth a visit, but be aware that you might not be allowed much further than the lobby (but the lobby is impressive enough in its own right).
Nearby, you’ll find endless luxury shopping, with the likes of Hermés, Prada, Versace, and Dior all setting up shop within earshot of the casino.
The intrigue doesn’t end there, though, as Monaco is also home to the Monaco Grand Prix race.
You can visit the Grand Prix racetrack in the port district of town, where you’ll also find several museums, churches, viewpoints, and gardens that are worth a visit as well.
Slightly further from Menton (40 minutes driving or 1 hour by train), is Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a sleepy, yet assuredly charming fishing village that is often referred to as a ‘pearl’ of the French Riviera.
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a perfect option for a relaxed day trip; the town offers little more than a few churches and quiet beaches, but the fresh seafood restaurants and sparkling blue waters won’t disappoint.
For a bit of sightseeing, nearby is the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, an Italian-style villa with expansive gardens that overlook the turquoise coast below. Once home to a Baroness, today the villa is a museum open to the public.
Just 30 minutes driving or 1 hour by train from Menton is the mountaintop town of Éze, a medieval village perched on a hill with panoramic views of coastline and towns below.
Éze’s medieval centre was impressively founded on this hilltop in the 14th century, remnants of which still remain there today.
Walking up and down the stone stairs of the village, you’ll find humble art galleries and shops carrying local goods, all tucked away within the cavernous stone facades.
This fascinating hilltop town beckons you to get lost inside it; spend a few hours here, and be sure to stop by the famous botanical gardens, too.
They cost just a few Euros to enter, but the entry is worth both the incredible plant life and the dazzling view of the Mediterranean that, somehow, feels so far away.
With its seaside promenade, crowded beaches, and charming old town, it’s hard to believe that Nice is France’s fifth largest city.
A far cry from the uber metropolis of Paris, Nice boasts the benefits of a large population center (great transport, tons of accommodation options, countless bars and restaurants, museums and culture aplenty), but with the feeling of being in a cozy and pleasant seaside village.
In Nice, you could simply spend the day lounging at one of the beach clubs in town (and we wouldn’t blame you), but it’s also certainly worth exploring the old town, the promenade, and the views from the hills above.
Back to Menton
With a successful day trip along the Riviera complete, it’s time to head back to Menton. As we mentioned, each of the destinations above are accessible to Menton via a quick drive or a reasonable public transit trip.
If you’re taking public transit, we recommend planning your return journey ahead of time, as availability may differ depending on the day and time of your departure.
Once back in Menton, it’s time to enjoy a final evening in this charming town that has served as your home base. For your final night in Menton, France, we recommend exploring the old town and getting your fill of local seafood while you still can.
Perhaps visit the casino if you haven’t already, but if you’re in the mood for something more relaxed, grab a gelato and stroll along the waterfront, soaking in that delicious Mediterranean sea breeze for one final night.
Recommended tours in Menton
- Aperitif on the French Riviera
- Vacation Photographer in Menton
- The best of French Riviera” walking tour
- Nice Airport Transfer to/from Menton
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