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Menton France French Holidays

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Menton is less pretentious than some of its counterparts along the Cote d'Azur, partly due to the fact that its clement all year round climate attracts lots of older people to the town, making the nightlife more sedate as a consequence.

Being so close to the Italian border means that it also attracts many Italians (who do not have very many beaches of their own, the poor dears), so you could sum up Menton by saying it is a retirement home for the rich with strong Italian resonances. The climate is due to the fact that Menton is encircled by mountains, which keep out the wind, and in winter you can really notice the difference as you travel along the coast because it is so much warmer here than in Cannes, for example. Whilst there is definitely no shortage of cash here, it is less ostentatiously displayed than in Monaco and Cannes. Writers such as Guy de Maupassant, Flaubert and Katharine Mansfield all appreciated Menton's charms. Lemons are an important feature here too. In February the Fete des Citrons sees the town come alive with lemon sculptures, food based on lemons and lemon everything else.

With such a barrage of delights, Menton is a popular summer holiday destination and so you will have to book ahead in order to secure accommodationaccommodation. At the tourist office, 8 avenue Boyer (04 92 41 76 76) you can enquire where there are free rooms available, but you have to do the reservations yourself. Two classy options are the Napoléon at 29 porte de France in Garavan (04 93 35 89 50) with sea views and L'Aiglon at 7 avenue de la Madonne (04 93 57 55 55) in a 19th century house, both with rooms for around €70 85. The Beauregard at 10 rue Albert 1er (04 93 28 63 63) presents really good value for money in tasteful surroundings at €40 55.

In town the Musée Jean Cocteau (€3) could tempt you out of the sunshine for a spot of artistic indulgence, or you could go to the Hôtel de Ville on place Ardoiono and see the Salles des Mariages (€1.50) that he decorated in 1957. More art can be found at the Palais Carnolès on avenue de la Madone for free.

Menton does not boast many Provencal eateries, but the rue St Michel has a variety of cheap and cheerful places offering food from various locations, such as the Moroccan Le Darkoum at number 23 (04 93 35 44 88), which is excellent. In the Hôtel des Ambassadeurs, 2 rue du Louvre, Le Café Fiori (04 93 28 75 75) offers elegance and menus from €30.