Menton (mɑ̃tɔ̃; Occitan: Menton in classical norm or Mentan in Mistralian norm; Italian: Mentone) is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France.
Situated on the French Riviera, it is nicknamed la perle de la France ("The Pearl of France").
The Menton area has been inhabited since the paleolithic era. A section of the via Julia Augusta, an old Roman way which connected Ventimiglia with Nice-Cimiez and with Rome, remains visible, currently part of Rue Longue, which crosses the old city. The first major settlement occurred during the early 11th century AD, around which time the Count of Ventimiglia founded the Château de Puypin. During the 13th century, the seigneury of Puypin (Podium Pinum) fell to the Vento family of Genoa, along with the rest of Menton They built another castle there: this one gave rise to the current city, which became part of the Republic of Genoa. The first mention of the city dates from July 21 1262, in the peace treaty between Charles of Anjou and Genoa. Its position on the border between the Angevin-ruled Provence and the Republic of Genoa - at which time Monaco marked its western limit - made it a coveted location. In 1346, Menton came under the rule of the princes of Monaco. The principality of Monaco was reconstituted in 1814, but in 1815 passed under the protectorate of the King of Sardinia.
Menton was attached to France during the French Revolution and the First Empire, belonging to the district of Sanremo in the department of Alpes-Maritimes (which at the time included Monaco and Sanremo). In 1848, it proclaimed itself a free city along with its neighbor Roquebrune, and placed itself under the protection of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Under their rule, Menton would become part of the County of Nice. By a treaty concluded in 1860 between the Sardinian king and Napoleon III, the County of Nice was ceded to France as a territorial reward for French assistance in the Second Italian War of Independence against Austria. The two free cities became French one year later, in 1861, following a plebiscite in which the people of Menton decided massively in favour of becoming part of France (the vote was 833 of 889 in favor). Napoleon III paid 4 million francs in compensation to the prince of Monaco, who renounced his rights in perpetuity on February 2, 1861.
Following the armistice of June 22, 1940, two thirds of the territory of the community was annexed by Italy the same summer. The annexation lasted until September 8, 1943, when it was occupied by Nazi Germany until the liberation on September 8, 1944.
The fishing industry was devastated in the 1980s and 1990s when the "killer algae" Caulerpa taxifolia (a non-native Asian tropical green algae first discovered in the Mediterranean Sea adjacent to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco in 1984) spread throughout the coastal sea floor, greatly reducing local fish populations.
Menton is famous for its gardens, including the Jardin Serre de la Madone, the Jardin botanique exotique de Menton ("Le Val Rahmeh"), the Fontana Rosa, and the Maria Serena garden. Le Val Rahmeh was established in 1905 by Englishman Sir Percy Radcliffe, the first owner of the gardens, and named for his wife. Villa Fontana Rosa was built in 1922 by Blasco Ibáñez, a Spanish novelist, and the gardens of the villa are now open to the public.
The Lemon Festival takes place every February. The festival follows a given theme each year; past themes include Viva España, Disney, Neverland, and India. The festival lasts a few days, with different bands passing through Menton's streets on foot or on truck trailers. The Casino Gardens in the centre of town are decorated in the theme of the festival, using lemons to cover the exhibits, and huge temporary statues are built and covered with citrus fruit.
The Casino Gardens are also the location for Menton's Christmas Festival.
The Menton Classical Musical Festival is also held every year in the centre of the old town.
European Travel: SOMEWHERE FOR THE WEEKEND - Menton ; Add Zest to Your Life (and Your Pancakes) at a Lemon Festival on the French Riviera, Says SARAH BARRELL
Feb 19, 2003; WHY NOW? Because this Friday, menton begins three weeks of lemon-scented pre-Lenten partying guaranteed to squeeze some...