Each February, Menton transforms itself into a golden, zesty world. Lemons (as well as oranges) – and tonnes of them – are paraded and exhibited on its sunny streets, celebrating the town’s history with this tangy fruit.
The Lemon Festival, which kicks off this Saturday, will attract over 200,000 visitors and this year the theme is “World festivals”. The “Golden Fruit Parades” are the festival’s highlight, where magnificent citrus fruit floats cover the length of the seafront, accompanied by music and entertainment. Also to discover is the “Exhibition of Citrus Patterns” in Biovès garden; spectacular citrus structures up to 10 meters high. In the evenings, the Fête du Citron® dazzles in night parades and its “Gardens of Lights”.
Menton was Europe’s largest lemon producer until the 1930s.
The first Fête du Citron® was in 1933, a local affair of a simple fruit show with carts showcasing lemon and orange trees. In fact, the idea was born about forty years earlier by a group of hoteliers that sought to inject a splash of colour and entertainment to the city during its winter months. How better than to do this by celebrating their famous fruit?
Menton lemons have always had a unique flavour – rich in acid and essence – and are characterised by their brilliant yellow colour and oval shape. Happily, lemon production in the Menton region is once again on the up. Around 15 professional citrus growers work in Menton and its neighbouring towns, producing more than 150 tonnes of lemons a year.
The Fête du Citron® runs from the 15th February – 3rd March and tickets start at 8€.