Fodor's Expert Review Serre de la Madone
With a temperate microclimate created by its southeastern and sunny exposure, Menton attracted a great share of wealthy horticultural hobbyists, including Major Lawrence Johnston, a gentleman gardener best known for his Cotswolds wonderland, Hidcote Manor. He wound up buying a choice estate in Gorbio—one of the loveliest of all perched seaside villages, 10 km (6 miles) west of Menton—and spent the 1920s and 1930s making the Serre de la Madone a masterpiece. Johnston brought back exotica from his many trips to South Africa, Mexico, and China, and planted them in a series of terraces, accented by little pools, vistas, and stone steps. While most of his creeping plumbago, pink belladona, and night-flowering cacti are now gone, his garden has been reopened by the municipality. If you don't have a car, you can reach it from Menton via Bus No. 7.