In the Belle Époque, Europe’s aristocracy fell head over heels for Menton, the last French Riviera resort before Italy.
Queen Victoria stayed in 1882 and the Imperial Russian expat community was so big they built their own church.
There are still lots of hints about this past, from the cemetery with the tombs of gentry on a roost high above the town, to a bewitching botanical garden adorning the mountains slopes that plunge to the sea.
These slopes are made for citrus, and Menot has more oranges and lemons than it knows what to do with.
So every February there’s the Lemon Festival, a public event even bigger than the Monaco Grand Prix.
Lets explore the best things to do in Menton:
1. Val Rahmeh Botanical Garden
You may be sceptical about a botanic garden being top of the things to do at a French Riviera resort.
But Val Rahmeh is a little piece of paradise that has blessed the slopes above Menton for more than 100 years.
The garden is a living remnant of the days when only the nobility and ultra-wealthy had the means to retreat to the French Riviera.
Val Rahmeh was the handiwork of Lord Radcliffe, once the Governor of Malta, and he harnessed Menton’s balmy microclimate to grow tropical and subtropical plants from Asia and South America.
He also had a thing for tropical fruit, so kiwis, avocados and bananas abound in Val Rahmeh.
Of all the species the rarest is the toromiro tree, endemic to Easter Island but now extinct in the wild.