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Menton's insider take:

Menton is at the end of the French Riviera in the last dazzling cove before the Italian border. Long known as a winter spot for English aristocrats, Menton's balmy microclimate allows for spectacular gardens and lemon groves on view throughout town. Like much of the region, Menton was historically a pawn between Italy, France, and Monaco, and it wasn't a permanent part of France until 1861. It doesn't feel French: Easy streets lead off the main artery, the Avenue Félix Faure, uphill to lemon groves and downhill to the sailboat-filled port. Past the old town and almost at the Italian border, the botanical gardens of the Villa Val Rahmeh feature more than 300 plant species that tumble over cliffs and hills (Avenue St. Jacques; 33 4 93 35 86 72; There's also the Musée Cocteau, down on the Old Port, located in a 17th-century fort and decorated by Jean Cocteau himself, with a selection of minor works on display (Bastion du Vieux Port; 33-4-93-35-49-71;; open Wednesdays through Mondays).

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