Edit & illustrations: Dané Stojanovic
Menton is the Provençal cliche. Persimmons ripe for the picking. Bright blue market crates stacked high. Provincial shutters, antique urns and walls washed in sunflower yellow, taffy pink and pale blue. Lemons line the main square, a scent that is both all-pervasive and glorious. Grand-mères hang white linen out to dry with wooden pegs, greying men whistle in the streets. It’s the South of France of dreams, a lasting relic of the Riviera of old before developers stormed the stretch.
With its sorbet streets, charming port and pastel palette, it’s hard not to fall in love with the vibrant town. The last stop on the Côte d’Azur before Italy, the town essentially straddles both countries, and with this, the streets come alive with both French and Italian.
The unofficial citrus capital of France, the lemon is Menton’s muse (the Church a close second), and the colour of the city shifts from lemon yellow to brilliant blood orange as the sun shifts from East to West.
With its balmy climate and salt-spiked breeze, a trip to Menton is a must (particularly for those with Mediterranean sensibilities). But with an international travel ban still in place, say bonjour vicariously – via your home, wardrobe and belly – and this sunny, zesty guide is the perfect place to begin your voyage.
THE FILM TO WATCH
La Piscine (The Swimming Pool), the 1969 French crime thriller, tells the story of lovers Marianne (Romy Schneider) and Jean-Paul (Alain Delon) who spend their summer in a sumptuous villa in the South Of France. But when Marianne’s ex-lover Harry (Maurice Ronet) shows up with his teenage daughter Penelope (Jane Birkin), sexual tensions arise – firstly between Marianne and Harry and then between Jean-Paul and Penelope. One night, as the two men down heavy spirits, Harry falls into the pool. Jean-Paul, who knows his drinking companion is too drunk to swim, leaves him to drown – and an investigator is hot on his case.
WHAT TO EAT
No trip to France is complete without a perfectly paper-thin crêpe, and whilst sojourning down South, the addition of lemon curd makes the French pancake suitably Provençal. Try these poppy seed-studded crêpes filled with tangy lemon curd and warm ricotta.
THE DRINK TO DRINK
While France is home to the finest wines in the world (and champagne, mais bien sûr), a tipple along the French Riviera can be a little more creative. The entire region boasts rolling lavender fields, so give your traditional martini a twist with muddled lavender buds and fresh lemon for a taste of the Riviera.
Emulate Menton’s pastel palette with fresh, resort-ready pieces like this citron Chemise en soie (silk shirt for the non-French speakers), perfect to pop over a bikini post-dip (or rather, jeans post-work), chic wide leg pants à la Louis Vuitton and a zingy summer crop. And of course, no Côte d’Azur wardrobe is complete without fashion’s smiley boy from the South, Simon Porte Jacquemus, whose entire 10-year career has been a kind of sartorial love letter to his beloved Provence. Kick up your heels with his daisy-dotted sandals and iconic Le Chiquito in lacquered ombré orange – and don’t forget your hat, Christian Dior’s patchwork raffia is the perfect shady accoutrement.
Chemise en soie, Imparfaite Paris. shop now
Leelou top, Suncoo Paris. shop now
WIDE LEG PANTS, louis vuitton. shop now
Les sandales Elme, Jacquemus. shop now
mussels belt, amelie pichard. shop now
jardin patchwork hat, dior. shop now
J’ADIOR BRACELET SET, dior. shop now
Le grand Chiquito in shaded orange, Jacquemus. shop now
TO ENJOY AT HOME
To transport the French Riviera into your home, first invite cult American photographer Slim Aarons via Louis Vuitton, who brings the joyous, sun-drenched vistas onto your coffee table with its Fashion Eye tome. Painterly ceramics will add a Fauvist touch, while the scent of citrus should be permeating throughout. And of course, a lemon tree out back, a Menton mandatory.
FASHION EYE FRENCH RIVIERA, louis vuitton. shop now
Dessert plate Clé, maison matisse. shop now
PLANTER DÉCOR ARCHI, ELISABETH BOURGET. shop now
SIRACUSA LEMON, Carrière Frères. shop now
lemon tree. shop now
The spoils of the South of France are many. Food, wine, weather, and of course, beauty. To emulate Provencal beauty at home, spritz sunshine with Louis Vuitton’s luminous Sun Song, an exuberant olfactive expression of orange blossom and lemon, bathe in L’Occitane’s verbena extract from neighbouring Corsica, and cleanse with Saison’s citrus-spiked soap from Marseille.
Sun Song, Louis Vuitton. shop now
Verbena Shower Gel and fresh body milk, L’occitane. shop now
PANIER DES SENS PROVENCE HAND & BODY WASH, saison. shop now
Riviera Jazz. listen here