Menton was first inhabited during the paleolithic period and is the original site of the Grimaldi Man of early modern humans, as well as the remains of Neanerthals and Cro-Magnons.
The first modern settlement was in the 11th century and the first mention of Menton was in 1262. It was acquired in 1346 by Charles Grimaldi, Lord of Monaco and ruled by the Princes of Monaco until the French Revolution.
In 1814, Menton was included in a reconstituted municipality of Monaco, which after, Napolean’s 100 Days, became a protectorate of the King of Sardinia. In 1848, it seceded from Monaco, due in part to taxes imposed on lemons by Monaco and 2 years later, placed itself under the protection of the King of Sardinia for the next 10 years.
In 1860, the Treaty of Turin called for the annexation of the county of Nice to France, as a reward for France’s assistance to Italy in its war against Austria.
Population as of 2016 was listed as 28,942.
Given, its beautiful old town, historical buildings, casino and beaches, it is sometimes referred to as the Poor Man’s Monaco, but Menton is so much more than that.
This was our third trip here. In 2011, we visited to see the old town and take some street photos which are now displayed in our home. In 2017, we visited to go to the restaurant in those photos and this was one reason for coming back this time, but, I am getting ahead of myself…..
Bus #100 dropped us off at Gare Routiere, the terminus station, on the North side of Menton. It was an incredibly hot and humid day and we opted to follow the limited shade to the streets of the Old Town and eventually to our restaurant. The Jardins Bioves provides a bit of green relief along our path.
Arriving in te downtown area, we take Ave. Felix Faure, which eventually transitions from vehicle to pedestrian traffic, before leading into Rue Saint Michel, the main pedestrian shopping street in Menton. We dawdle, taking in the sights and sounds, as we have time to spare before our lunch reservation.
Remembering the beauty of the Old Town, we turn into a narrow street and zig zag our way towards our lunch destination. The day is sunny, the skies are brilliant blue and the streetscapes do not disappoint.
We take our time at the top, marveling at the restoration job of Basilique Saint-Michel-Archange de Menton. In 2011, it was looking so old and decrepit on our first visit and now it positively gleams.
On Rue Longue, at the bottom of the stairs down from the church, I pause for views of the port…looking toward the Italian border, now so close at hand.
But, lunch beckons and we wander along this beautiful street toward our restaurant….
A separate post will cover our dining experience at “a Braijade Meridounale”.
After a delicious lunch experience, it was back into the old narrow streets to saunter aimlessly from one beautiful photo to another.
Soon back on the main shopping street, we window shop our way slowly back toward Gare Routiere and our bus home to Nice.
This time, we pause in the garden to enjoy the artful displays and some campy photos.
Arriving at the bus station, we found that we had just missed a bus and would have to wait about 20 minutes for the next. We sought some shade to hide out in and at long last, the bus arrived and we clamboured aboard, easily finding seats for our hour long journey back to Nice. What a perfect day on the French Riviera!