Worth a Trip: Ventimiglia
Menton literally sits on the border with Italy and there is no finer reason to dash across for a dose of la dolce vita than the all-day Friday market in Ventimiglia (Vintimille in French), the border town on the Italian side. The market sprawls over 1km along the seafront and is popular among French shoppers for its cheap fruit and veg, tasty deli counters (mozzarella-stuffed peppers, sun-dried tomatoes etc), bargain leather goods and cheap fashion. Watch out for counterfeits here; French customs take it very seriously and you risk a fine and confiscation of your goods.
Ventimiglia is at the end of the French SNCF network; there are half-hourly trains to/from Menton (€2.70, 10 minutes), Monaco (€4.60, 30 minutes), Nice (€8, one hour) and Cannes (€13.20, 1¾ hours).
Worth a Trip: Ste-Agnès
Ste-Agnès’ claim to fame – Europe’s highest seaside village – is not for nothing: sitting snug on a rocky outcrop at 780m, the village looks spectacular and commands dramatic views of the area. For the most breathtaking panorama, climb the 200 or so steps to the rubbly 12th-century château ruins with their intriguing flower beds, based on allegorical gardens found in medieval French poetry.
At the far end of the village is Fort Ste-Agnès, a large subterranean fort built to safeguard the French border in the years leading up to WWII. Interestingly, it is thanks to this active military history that Ste-Agnès is so picturesque today: all new developments were prohibited during the army's presence, a measure that the village has since maintained.