Right now it’s a chilly 36 degrees fahrenheit (2 degrees celsius), cloudy and literally freezing here in the north of France, with snow predicted for later this week. As I’m mournfully putting on my winter puffy coats and double pairs of socks, I’m dreaming of our beautiful week last summer on the French Riviera.
Our destination was the town of Menton, located right on the Italian border, but we decided to stay instead in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, a town between Menton and Monaco. Our AirBnb was well-situated, only about a block away from the beach. I would highly recommend staying in this area, as we still had the beautiful beach, but without the crowds of Menton.
The fun part about this area is that, due to its proximity to Italy, there are lots of Italians living in this area. It’s easy to get confused as to what country you’re actually in when everyone around you is speaking Italian. Case in point – the awesome restaurant Le Fellini, located right around the corner from our AirBnb. We arrived on a hopping Friday night, with people milling about waiting around for a table in a sort of organized chaos. No one seemed to mind the wait on this warm night, as many bisous were exchanged and the exuberant Italian conversations filled the air. I started out annoyed by one couple who were apparently friends of the owner and regulars, cut the line, bisou the owners and sat down at a makeshift table brought out to the front terrace. My annoyance turned to interest as I saw both of them proceed to order without taking one glance at the menu and the fascination continued as 2 colorful, delicious-looking pizzas were brought out to them. I knew I had to order the same thing when we (finally!) got our table. All my annoyances and frustrations at the wait faded away as I tasted this wonderful pizza…
I’ve been trying to find another restaurant in the north of France that can replicate this experience, but to no success. Guess I’ll just have to go back to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
Heading east from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and following the beautiful beach, it was an easy walk to Menton. Menton is nicknamed “the pearl of France”, and I could totally see why, with its beautiful location nestled in between the green mountains and the turquoise sea. Menton is known for its lemons and its annual Lemon Festival, which takes place every February. During this festival, the entire city is practically covered in the yellow citrus fruit. But since we were there during a normal day, we were peacefully at ease and citrus-free during our walk to and through the town.
During our stay, we also took a trip to Monaco. Our friends actually work in Monaco, so they were able to give us a brief little tour of the highlights.
Here’s a few fun facts about Monaco:
- Monaco is the second-smallest and most densely populated sovereign state in the world
- It is surrounded by France on 3 sides and by the Mediterranean Sea on the 4th
- It has the world’s lowest poverty rate and the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita
- There is no personal income tax and is therefore considered a “tax haven”
All in all, Monaco wasn’t my favorite place on the Côte d’Azur (it’s way TOO expensive and overrated), but it was nice to quickly visit. The thing I did notice is that it was meticulously clean and organized, especially compared to France.
During our (sadly) brief visit to the Côte d’Azur, it’s easy to see why so many tourists are attracted to this area. With its exciting mixture of cultures, crystal blue waters, abundance of sunshine, and refreshing breezes coming off of the nearby hills, I think that Menton and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin have taken my title of my new favorite towns in France. This was our first time to this area, but definitely not our last…
Until next time…
- Le Fellini, 7 promenade du Cap, 06190 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Tel: 04.92.10.70.82. http://www.restaurant-lefellini.fr/