The history of Menton goes back to prehistoric times, but the first recorded settlement of the city was around the year 1000, when the Ligures (a people that formerly inhabited southeastern France and northern Italy) lived here and the Count of Ventimiglia founded the Château de Puypin. Much of the city's medieval architecture shows a Ligurian influence that slowly faded and was replaced by a baroque style during the late Renaissance. From the 1300s until the mid-1800s, the city belonged to the royal family of Monaco, the Grimaldis. In 1861, it officially separated from Monaco and became part of France. Around this time, it became a popular destination for vacationing tourists.

During World War II, the city was annexed by Italy, which resulted in a period of economic prosperity due to increased trade with the prosperous country. However, the citizens were required to adopt Italian laws and customs. Later, the town was taken over by Germany, but soon liberated by the Allied Powers and returned to France.

In the second half of the 1900s, Menton regained its status as "the pearl of France" and began receiving tourists once more. Beautiful gardens such as Le Val Rahmeh are one of the premier attractions of the city. Today, it is seen by many as a sunny, quiet alternative to more crowded Mediterranean beaches in places such as Monaco and Nice.