Famous for its turquoise waters, pastel-colored towns straddling the Mediterranean, and irresistible vintage charm, the French Riviera is one of the top summer destinations in Europe, up there with Italy’s trendy Amalfi and the paradisiacal Greek islands.

Something most Americans don’t know, however, is that they can fly nonstop to what’s arguably the prettiest town in the Riviera from the United States this season without having to touch down in hectic Paris first, only to take a six-hour train south.

The charming, storybook-material Menton is a (relatively) short 7h40 Transatlantic flight away, and though it’s relatively least-known than Cannes, St Tropez and the like, it won’t stay this way for long:

The Most Colorful Town In France

Aerial View Of Menton, A Town In The French Riviera In Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

Menton is the last municipality in the French Riviera before the Italian border, and due to its proximity to the neighboring country, so close you can simply walk there, its architecture, Southern European cuisine, and multicultural character, it’s often called the most Italian town in France.

A small resort town lining the Mediterranean enjoying a year-round temperate climate, it exists in a different world altogether from the Haussmann-modeled, leafy boulevards of Paris or even nearby Nice’s grandiose Belle époque buildings:

Young Couple Walking Down A Narrow Alley Lined By Pastel Colored Buildings In Menton, French Riviera, Cote d'Azur, Southern France, Southern Europe

You see, there are no actual borders separating both countries, so the lines start to get blurry in Menton already: your start hearing a mix of Italian and French in the streets, and walking the streets, flanked by skinny houses, we wouldn’t blame you for thinking you’re in Italy already.

After all, Menton could easily belong in the Italian Riviera instead:

A Little Slice Of Italy

Aerial View Of Menton, A Town In The French Riviera In Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

The hilly Old Town is an explosion of colors, with buildings coming in muted orange, yellow, green, and maroon shades, ever so randomly arranged, and cobbled streets that lead to hidden courtyards, lush gardens, and Baroque churches.

The incredibly picturesque townscape, with rows upon rows of pastel houses unfolds along a public sand-and-pebble beach, wedged between a modern promenade and the crystal-clear seas, and lined by a succession of traditional Italian trattorie and French brasseries. The best of both worlds.

Stairs Leading Up To Basilica St Michael In Menton, Southern France, Southern Europe

Other than admiring the architecture and exploring the numerous winding alleys that all seem to lead up to the landmark Saint-Michel Basilica, with its towering yellow-washed belfry, Menton is the perfect destination for sampling Mediterranean food.

Amazing Mediterranean Food

Primo Atelier Della Pasta serves the best seafood spaghetti, and pricing is fairly affordable, with main dishes averaging $15-21, while La Crepe a l’Envers is your go-to spot for softly-buttered, delicious French crepes, savory or sweet, with lunchtime menus starting from as cheap as $15.

Young Woman Smiling As She Eats Pizza And Drinks Wine In Southern Europe

You probably wouldn’t expect to have one of the best pizzas in your gastronomic journey in a small, offbeat town of France’s Côte d’Azur, but once again, Menton is every bit as Italian in character as it is French, and the Italian-run Fleur de Mozza is a must-visit.

Whether it’s a simple Margherita, or their signature Fleur de Mozza with buffalo mozzarella, you won’t be disappointed. Pizzas here can cost only $10, and if you’re ordering some sparkling water or freshly-squeezed juice on the side, that’s $14 for a fulfilling, casual dinner.

Gelato Melting In Summery Southern Europe

We should probably also mention that Menton is famous for its lemon: thanks to the town’s balmy weather, lemons that grow in the area have a rather distinct aroma, and they can be surprisingly sweet to the palate.

If you’re in town, make sure you stop by Gelateria Sofia, a gelato shop at the end of Bonaparte Quay, for a big choice of flavors: any of the Menton lemon-derived are incontournable, but their stracciatella and mango are just as delightful.

Aerial View Of Menton, A Town In The French Riviera In Southern France, Mediterranean Europe

Can You Use Menton As A Base For Exploring Côte d’Azur?

Now, if you’re wondering whether Menton can be used as a base for exploring the wider French Riviera, the answer is yes!

You can easily stay locally while still traveling the extent of Côte d’Azur extensively:

The micro-state of Monaco is a short 25-minute drive away, while the hugely popular hilltop, medieval village of Èze is half an hour, Nice is 35 minutes, and the upscale, celeb-frequented resort town of Cannes is just over an hour down the coast.

The Mediterranean Sea Seen From Old Town Menton, French Riviera, Cote d'Azur, Southern France, Southern Europe

In case you’re not driving, Menton is still very well-connected to a number of tourist hotspots on the Riviera by railway: you can travel to all of the locations cited above from Menton with the train, and tickets are fairly cheap, ranging from a negligible $3 to $12 one-way.

How Much Do Hotels In Menton Cost?

As for hotels, one of the least-expensive options is Hôtel Narev, where a seven-night stay will set you back $892 this August, though you should book soon enough as there aren’t that many rooms at the cheapest rate left.

Sand And Pebble Beach In Menton, French Riviera, Cote d'Azur, Southern France, Southern Europe.jpg

The French Riviera is not the most affordable Southern European getaway, and hotels in Menton are definitely on the pricier side, with week-long reservations at Hotel Paradiso costing $1,493, and a slightly-cheaper $1,376 at the beachfront, four-star Princess Et Richmond.

There’s not really an abundance of hostels or budget-friendly guesthouses around, but you may be able to find studio apartment rentals for under $800 for the week on Booking.com, especially when booking directly with the property owner off-season (between September and October).

The Mediterranean Sea Seen From Old Town Menton, French Riviera, Cote d'Azur, Southern France, Southern Europe

It’s worth noting that cheap accommodation in Menton is not that easy to find, particularly in the high season: overall, a one-week trip to the French Riviera, and this includes Menton, costs on average $1,977 for two people.

Fly Nonstop To The French Riviera This Season

If you’ve been wondering all along how exactly you can fly nonstop to this 30,000-people-strong, idyllic coastal town between France and Italy, Menton is only 24 miles or only a 45-minute train ride from the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, which serves the whole of the French Riviera.

Pastel-Colored Town Of Menton, French Riviera, Cote d'Azur, Southern France, Southern Europe

This season, American Airlines offers nonstop flights daily from Philadelphia (PHL) to Nice (NCE) from $1,351 round-trip, making it extremely easy and convenient for Americans to reach the sunny Mediterranean side of France without connecting in Paris or other European hubs.

Flight Information
  • From Philadelphia, takeoff is set at 9:00 P.M., landing in Nice at 11:00 A.M. of the following day.
  • From Nice, planes depart at 1:00 P.M., returning to Philadelphia on the same calendar date, at 3:55 P.M.
Interior of large passengers airplane with people on seats and stewardess in uniform walking the aisle.

Outbound, the journey time blocks at 7h40, while return westbound flights take longer, blocking at 8h55. This is a seasonal route only, and it will remain active until October 5, but you’re advised to book as soon as possible if you’re planning on visiting Menton, as seats may sell out/ rates could fluctuate.

Traveling From Nice Airport To Menton

There is a tram terminal just outside Nice Airport, with trams taking you to downtown Nice in just half an hour. If you’re heading straight for Menton, the stop you’re looking for is Jean-Médecin, the closest to the Central Station.

Aerial View Of The French Riviera, Southern France

From Jean-Médecin, it’s a 10-minute walk to the Central Station, where you can switch to the intercity train to Menton, which leaves multiple times per day. Every train traveling eastward from Nice will take you to Menton in just over half an hour, and one-way tickets cost $7.

On the Nice-Menton route, there as many as 50 departures per day, the earliest being 5:40 A.M. and the latest 10:50 P.M.; with at least one train leaving every 16 minutes, your time of arrival, and how long customs takes to clear is hardly relevant, unless it’s the middle of the night.

If you’re taking an Uber from Nice Airport to Menton, expect to pay around $68.31 one-way.

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