Aristocratic villa in “Little Africa”
This aristocratic villa from 1882 is located only a few hundred meters from the Italian border. In 2019, the villa underwent a restoration of the facades so that they now present themselves beautifully in their original colors.
The location offers stunning views across the bay and to the colorful old town of Menton.
Villa Maria Serena was designed by the acclaimed architect Jean-Louis Charles Garnier (1825-1898), who was also the architect of the Paris Opera and the Monte Carlo Opera House.
In 1886, the villa’s first inhabitants were Ferdinand de Lessep’s family and the last official owner was the British banker Henry Koenig, who in 1947 donated the villa to the town of Menton.
Since then, Villa Maria Serena has hosted receptions with famous guests such as Queen Astrid of Belgium and the then French president René Coty, as well as a number of distinguised personalities of art and culture.
Ideal growth conditions
The garden benefits from the special microclimate found in the area around Menton. Reportedly, the temperature here should never fall below 5 degrees.
It provides the ideal conditions for a collection of palm trees, cicadas, strelitzias, dracenas and bauhinias to unfold their full growth potential.
The collection of these tropical and subtropical trees, surrounded by lush green grass, gives associations to Tunisia in Africa – hence called “Little Africa”.
The garden is open for guided tours, which are booked at the Menton Tourist Office, Tuesdays at 10 am and Fridays at 14.30 pm.
Admission 6 € for adults and free for children under 12 years.
By Tommy Sverre / 2021