Gardens of the French Riviera


Print page

Activity types:

  • Central location
  • Coastal
  • Flora

Holiday overview

  • Wonderful formal gardens of the Ephrussi Villa overlooking the sparkling blue of the Mediterranean Sea
  • Explore the private gardens of Menton
  • Visit the famous Hanbury gardens at La Mortola, just outside Ventimiglia

Holiday overview:

The diversity of its landscape and the mild climate has made the French Riviera a garden lover’s delight. We’ll discover the gardens of Menton, including Val Rahmeh’s botanical garden, and the Serre de la Madone gardens, landscaped by Lawrence Johnstone, creator of Hidcote Manor.

Further along the coast we’ll visit the wonderful gardens of the Ephrussi Villa at Cap Ferrat and the Exotic Garden at Monaco, full of subtropical cacti. Across the Italian border we’ll explore the famous Hanbury gardens at Ventimiglia.

Great reasons to join us:

  • Great value: all prices include Half Board en-suite accommodation, plus entrances to all gardens
  • Expert leader: we carefully select friendly and knowledgeable leaders for each holiday
  • Accommodation: enjoy high-quality accommodation and excellent food at our partner hotel at Menton
  • Sociability: we pride ourselves on the social atmosphere of our holidays – enjoy gardens together, eat together and relax together


The 3-star Hotel Balmoral occupies a seafront position in the centre of Menton. The 69 en-suite rooms overlook either the pedestrianised shopping area or the promenade and sea. There is a pleasant sun room and an outside area with small terrace with seating and garden areas. There is pedestrian access from the garden area to the promenade du Soleil.


All rooms are en-suite with shower, air conditioning, hairdryer, telephone, satellite TV, safe and WiFi.

Back to top

The hotel has an elegant dining room which is light and airy, offering sea views. There's a small garden fronting the Promenade with a sun terrace and bar with piano. A laundry service is available and an ironing room is available to guests. Internet access is available in the reception area. There is an entertainment programme at this hotel and the sister hotel, Hotel Westminster, a few minutes' walk away.

Back to top

Our holidays at the Hotel Balmoral are on a Half Board basis and include breakfast and your evening meal.


This hotel offers a self-service continental buffet breakfast plus porridge and boiled eggs.

Evening meal

The evening meal is a mixture of French and international dishes. It is important that guests with special dietary requirements, including vegetarians, let our reservations team know before they travel.

Picnic lunches

Ingredients for your picnic lunch can be bought from local shops; your leaders will advise you of the options

Back to top

Enjoy a glass of wine or local beer before your evening meal with your fellow guests. On most evenings you will be able to take advantage of the hotel's entertainment programme. Your leader will also be checking for any local events going on nearby. The hotel's location is ideal for a leisurely stroll into the old town, where you can watch the world go by and soak up the atmosphere with a relaxing drink at one of the pavement café bars. Or you may like to relax on the terrace or in the bar, with a drink and chat.

Back to top


Saturday: Arrival Day
If you have booked a flight and transfer, your HF Holidays leader will meet you at Nice airport and accompany you on the coach transfer to your hotel in Menton. There will be time for you to check into your room and then visit the town before meeting your fellow guests for an introduction to your holidays from the leader at 7pm.

Sunday: Menton

In the morning we visit the Serre de la Madone garden, originally created by Lawrence Johnston of Hidcote Gardens fame. We return to Menton town to visit the Palais Carnoles. The garden has a large collection of citrus trees, a sculpture park and a small museum. Later we walk back to the hotel to view the municipal gardens and the beautiful town of Menton.

Monday: Cap Ferrat

Enjoy a short walk along the promenade to the Val Rahmeh botanical garden. Set on a series of terraces, the garden is filled with sub-tropical plants and several collections.

Later we travel to Cap Ferrat to visit the Villa Ephrussi Rothschild - a superb garden set on an elevated site around the villa with extensive views. This journey will be an opportunity to see the fine coastal scenery of the Cote d’Azur.

Tuesday: Italy

A short journey takes us to the Maria Serena garden in Menton. Set almost on the coast, this garden has a collection of mature tropical and sub-tropical plants. Then we travel a short distance into Italy to visit the La Mortola Hanbury garden,  created in the 19th century by an English family in the Gardenesque style.

Wednesday: Free day

A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the hotel.

Thursday: Nice

In the morning we make a visit to the Jardin du Monastere du Cimiez in the large and busy city of Nice. There are beautiful terraced gardens here and it’s set in a spectacular location above the city. Guests may also enjoy an optional visit to the nearby monastery museum. Later we visit Parc Phoenix, a modern park with a large collection of outdoor plants and one of the largest conservatories of any public garden.

Friday: Monaco

We end our holiday with a visit to the Principality of Monaco where we visit the Jardin Exotique. It has a large collection of succulents and cacti set in a spectacular location above the town. Guests may also visit the caves at the garden. We then visit Monaco town to see the perfectly manicured Casino Gardens, and finally the Japanese Garden, a fine example of its type.

Saturday: Depart after breakfast.

Please note that some terrain in these gardens is very steep.

Every effort is made to adhere to this itinerary, however there may be circumstances beyond our control which could lead to a change in the programme.

Local area

An introduction to the area

To the east of Monaco, the pastel-shaded, palm-lined seaside town of Menton is within walking distance of the Italian border. Bordered by lush gardens and lemon groves, Menton has a pretty pebbled beach and a charming old town. Overall, it’s a lot less touristy than other spots on the Côte d’Azur and is known as the most relaxed destination in the area, retaining something of the elegant British atmosphere left by visitors such as Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and Noel Coward. It is also warmer, thanks to the surrounding hills, which trap the warm air from the Mediterranean within the town, Menton is said to have the highest temperatures on the coast; the  subtropical microclimate means 316 cloudless days a year.

Local highlights

Menton - It is not necessary to travel far on your free day as a relaxing time could be spent exploring the many gardens, museums and boutiques of Menton itself. Benefiting from the sub-tropical microclimate, Menton boasts many exquisite gardens and parks, some planted by English botanists in the early 19th century. The most spectacular is the Val Rahmeh Botanical Garden, a park of green, lush, near-jungle vegetation which features more than 700 species of weird and wonderful tropical plants. Also worth a visit is the Citrus Garden of the Palais Carnolès which surrounds the one time summer residence of the Princes of Monaco. There are also many museums in the town, including the Jean Cocteau Museum and the Pre-historic Musuem. Alternatively just enjoy the town’s colourful quay, shops, cafés and long seaside promenade.

Nice -  It might be a cliché to say Nice has something for everyone, but the Côte d’Azur’s cosmopolitan capital pretty much does. Apart from the sun worshippers, there are major museums for art aficionados, and archeological fans can visit the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Cemenelum. If you just feel like just sauntering about, the romantic old town offers secret passages, colourful flower markets and antique fairs. Nice can be reached on the train from Menton.

San Remo and the Italian Riviera - Basking on the Riviera dei Fiori, so named for the area’s flower-growing industry, San Remo is known as the ‘City of Flowers’. Hothouses surround the city, exporting carnations, roses, buttercups and other blooms across Europe and beyond.

San Remo (locally spelt Sanremo) flourished in the 19th century as a resort for Europe’s high society, particularly from Russia. Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna (mother of the last tsar, Nicholas II) once held court here, and the remarkable onion-dome church remains as a reminder of its halcyon days. The ancient heart of San Remo, La Pigna (meaning ‘Pine Cone’), is a tight cluster of streets just north of Corso Matteotti, San Remo’s main strip. San Remo can be reached on the train from Menton.

Shops & facilities:

There are good mini-markets near the hotel on the main street which stock a selection of food for picnic lunches. The pedestrian area of the old town with its souvenir, art, pottery and jewellery shops is a short walk from the hotel. There are plenty of banks with exchange facilities along Rue Partouneaux. Barclays Bank (39 av Félix Faure) has an automatic exchange machine outside. Crédit Lyonnais (av Boyer) is two doors down from the tourist office and has a 24-hour currency machine outside.


‘With flight’ holidays 

For flight times and prices please see the Dates & Prices tab.

We offer flights from Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh (selected dates only, regional flight supplement: £80) to Nice.

If you book a ‘with flight’ holiday with us, we automatically include transfers between the airport and the hotel. The coach transfer to Menton takes 1 hour.

Independent travellers

All our overseas holidays can also be booked without a flight. This is ideal if you are travelling from overseas, or prefer to make your own arrangements from your local airport. If you choose this option the transfer to the hotel is not included.

HF Holidays can help you to reach the hotel in the following ways:

HF Holidays’ transfer coach from Nice airport. These are timed to meet the HF Holidays’ flights (provisional HF Holidays’ flight times can be found on the dates and prices tab or call 020 8732 1220). Cost per single journey is £23.50. Please note that HF Holidays is not responsible for your onward travel if you fail to meet the transfer coach under any circumstance. 

Our Airport Taxi service operates at this resort, offering quick and easy transfers for guests booking their own flights. All prices are per taxi for single journeys, allowing you to mix and match different transfer options. Transfers must be pre-booked. Please call 020 8732 1220 for more details.

From Nice airport by taxi transfer: £70 - £90 per taxi single journey.


Jim Hart

Jim is a professional horticulturist with more than 35 years experience, working in local authority parks departments and commercial nurseries, in Britain and abroad.  For more than 15 years he was a lecturer in plant production and landscape management. He has also run his own nursery and landscape design business. Jim combines visiting gardens and plant spotting with hiking and sightseeing in various countries. Jim leads Walking, Discovery and Garden Tours in Europe, and Garden Tours in the UK.


Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
22 May 2016, 6:20 p.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

The tour was generally good, but the booking process was inefficient and painful. We combined 2 tours in Menton and HF staff seemed unable to grasp the concept. It took several calls and my careful explanation of what was required to manage to book the tours. I am still waiting for the questionnaire for the 2nd week ...

Product review:

The tour was good, well organised and very well managed by Jim Hart. He was interesting, engaging, had a good relationship with us, was good fun and very knowledgeable. The Balmoral hotel is dire and reception staff apart from Giulia is not pleasant or efficient. The rooms need upgrading and steam cleaning. They smell of neglect and of longstanding badly cleaned furnishings. Bedding and mattresses smell of "old" and cleaned properly (we had to buy air freshners to make the room bearable). Towels were nearly threadbare. As we stayed 2 weeks, I had to ask for the sheets to be changed! Staff in the dining room were extremely helpful and kind, the food average. Wifi access in the 21st should not just be available in the draughty and noisy reception area.
3 May 2016, 8:17 p.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

I was impressed with HF as a company and when we arrived at the airport in Nice. The female tour leader made herself known to the two groups and was cheerful and well organised. The male tour leader was quiet compared to her.

Product review:

The garden tour was enjoyable with plenty of variety. It would have been helpful to have had more information regarding the terraine and steps in each garden in the briefing each evening and more information of where we were would have been useful while travelling on the coach from Menton to Beaulieu Sur Mer and Cap Ferrat.
10 Oct 2015, 4:54 p.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

all good except booking could be a bit more efficient

Product review:

guide brilliant hotel food very good.
room no bath which it said it had and no facilities to dry wet clothes
11 May 2014, 3:45 p.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

Generally well-organised , enjoyable and good value holidays.

Product review:

Some aspects were good but the food and some of the service in the dining room was poor. Return journey from hotel - times badly organised - far too long waiting in airport with baggage. An expensive holiday, which given the food , was over-priced.
9 May 2014, 5:52 p.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

They seemed efficient and reliable.

Product review:

A pleasant resort, good hotel with very good food. Interesting gardens and a knowledgeable leader.
8 May 2014, 7:34 a.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

Friendly group and Group Leader. The organisation of the holiday was not quite up to HF Holidays' usual standards.

Product review:

The Hotel was OK but again not up to HF Holidays' usual standards particularly in the evening meal department where I felt the choices and standard of presentation to be particularly poor.

Dates & Prices

We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.

Prices are per person


  • Double room for sole occupancy: £17 per night
  • Sea view: £17 per person per night
  • Non member associate fee: £5 per person