The land of the lemon

Today we made our last side trip from Nice, to the lovely city of Menton, famous for its lemons. It is the furthest east you go before entering Italy, so the town has a definite Italian accent. 

How can people live in these gorgeous towns and bear to travel to places where it’s cold and dark, and the food is less than the perfection they experience here? How forgiving and tolerant they must be. Just look at what they have to choose from on a daily basis in the Menton market…

One reason to visit Menton is to see the Jean Cocteau museum, which celebrates the work of this writer, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. It is a very modern, and somewhat jarring exterior. But from the inside looking out, the pillars look like curtains being pulled to the side to peek at the view. Interesting effect.

We know of Coteau of course, but not much about him, to be honest. We did learn today that he had extremely long fingers and large hands, as evidenced by his hand cast. His influence on/by the modernistes of his day is evident, but not especially moving. But it was interesting and visually appealing, so worth the visit.

What we did find fascinating is the fact that he created murals for the marriage salon in the Menton city hall. This we had to see, as we could not imagine what he did with the space. Le Hotel de Ville de Menton is lovely, and – amazingly – so was the confection that is the wedding salon. Even the leopard-print carpeting seems to fit the light and airy murals that surround this lovely room. Not a bad place to get hitched.

We went to an extremely local place for lunch, which was serving one dish for two which we could not comprehend, but ordered anyway. What we had was an incredible mixture of vegetables and meat that was true work of art. Amazingly complex and delicious, as was the crepe that followed.

The town of Menton is heavy on the lemon products and artifacts, and has a wonderful old section that is not at all tarted up. You must look at the Menton postman, who surely appears to have just delivered mail to Vincent van Gogh, no?

All of the Riviera looks so much like a beautifully designed theatrical set that we keep expecting the chorus to enter from stage right and start dancing and singing.

Yesterday we also managed a trip to the medieval city of Eze, which appears to have been carved out of rocks as a fortress on a mountaintop overlooking the sea. This is an amazing place, and it’s easy to imagine life being lived there since the 14th century. Not at all at tarty as St.-Paul-de-Vence, and much more evocative.

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