MENTONE (Fr. Menlon), a town in the department of the Alpes Maritimes in south-east France, situated on the shore of the Mediterranean, about 15 m. by rail E. of Nice. Pop. (1901), 9944. It is built in the form of an amphitheatre on a rocky promontory, which divides its semicircular bay into two portions. The main town is composed of two parts. Below, along the seashore, is the town of hotels and foreigners, while above, and inaccessible to wheeled vehicles, is that of the native Mentonese, with steep, narrow and dark streets, clinging to the mountain side around the strong castle which was once its protection against pirates. In the old town is the church of St Michel, rebuilt in great part since an earthquake in 1887, while below, in the principal street, the Corniche road, is the monument set up in 1896 to commemorate the union (in 1860) of Mentone with France. East of the main town is the suburb of Caravan, sheltered by cliffs, and filled with hotels. A mile and a half farther on is the Pont St Louis, which marks the frontier between France and Italy, while beyond it Sir Thomas Hanbury's villa at La Murtola is soon reached, with its marvellous gardens of 250 acres. West of the main town more hotels and villas are scattered along the coast towards Cap Martin. This is a pinecovered promontory which shelters the Bay of Mentone on the west, and is crowned by a great hotel, not far from which is the villa of the ex-empress Eugenie. Facing south-east, and sheltered on the north and west by mountains, the Bay of Mentone has a delicious climate and is frequented by invalids. The mean for the year is 61 F., while that for the winter is 72 in the Sun, and 55 in the shade. Frost occurs on the average only once in ten years. Besides the charms of its climate Mentone offers those of an almost tropical vegetation. Lemon-trees, olivetrees and pines rise in successive stages on surrounding slopes. The district produces 40,000,000 lemons yearly, and this is its principal natural wealth. In the east bay is the harbour, constructed in 1890. It has a depth of about 26 ft., and is sheltered by a jetty about 400 yds. in length. The harbour is frequented by pleasure yachts and a few coasting vessels.
Mentone was probably the Lumone of the Itineraries, but no Roman remains exist. After having belonged to the counts of Ventimiglia and a noble Genoese family, it was purchased about the middle of the lith century by the Grimaldis, lords of Monaco. During the First Republic and the First Empire it belonged to France, but in 1815 it reverted to the prince of Monaco, who subjected it to such exactions that in 1848 its inhabitants proclaimed the town (with Roquebrune on the west) independent, under the protection of Sardinia. In 1860 both Mentone and Roquebrune were purchased by France from the prince of Monaco, and added to the department of the Alpes. Maritimes then formed out of the county of Nice, ceded the same year to France by Sardinia.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)