Let me tell you about Menton. It’s pretty characteristic of the beautiful villes that dot the Cote d’Azur from what I hear. My first impression upon stepping off of the train was how mesmerizing the mountains were behind the village. Having grown up on the east coast, I am used to going to the beach and seeing miles upon miles of sand dunes dotted by the occasional beach house. Or, you have the overcluttered, overcrowded beach towns that have strips of shopping, restaurants and the boardwalk (not to point fingers, Ocean City). I have never seen a coast defined by cliffs and mountains with little houses built up the side. In my mind, there are four parts to this town.
First you have the beach. It’s made up of little smooth pebbles that extend for maybe 20 feet right into the water. Then there are the houses, restaurants and shops that make up the main activity of Menton. This is the main town and it is right above the ocean with only a manmade barrier keeping the ocean from taking over. Parts of the town are flat but parts are very “hilly” (great butt workout if you ask me). Beyond the main town begin the steep hills and cliffs. There are schools, homes and all sorts of buildings and roads built into this hill that eventually becomes a mountain. Beyond this populated portion of the mountain, the terrain becomes very steep and rocky. I can tell you because we hiked it, you can go from sea-level to a very high altitude in quite a short distance. It took us 2 hours to get from the tippiest-top point of the mountain back down to the shore. And mind you we were amateur hikers who wore sandals and brought along our purses.. which made for quite a long journey. But that was such an adventure it deserves a post of its own.
We arrived in Menton and spent the first day getting to know the students who attend Sciences Po at this campus. We were even assigned to spend the weekend at a student’s apartment! I got to stay with Marine, a first-year sweetheart with a gorgeous apartment. I forgot how much nicer housing gets when you don’t live in a big city! The town was nice and small so we could walk everywhere. After exploring the town, we grabbed some delicious pizza and wine before meeting with the whole group to head to Monaco! The pizza and gelato in Menton are absolutely amazing because the town is on the French-Italian border. We met with the group around 10 or 11 and headed to Monaco to party the night away! It was Renata’s birthday at midnight and somehow I convinced the DJ (super snob) to play “Birthday Sex” in honor of Renata at midnight!! Hahah!
|Rainy view from hilltop of Menton|
We had kayaking in the Med planned for Saturday but it was raining 🙁 so we did a walking tour of Menton and then Monaco. The sea against the cliffs in Monaco was such a pretty sight and definitely my favorite part. I have to say though, I found the city more pretty when it was all lit up the night before. The rain finally slowed and the sun made an appearance shortly before we dragged our soggy selves back to Menton. The train ride between the two towns is a quick 10-minute ride.