The Menton annual Lemon Festival is held February to March. For most of the year the French Riviera town of Menton is a sleepy and tranquil place but every year the town shows a real zest for life when it becomes the fruitiest town in Europe as the La Fête du Citron – Lemon Festival – is held in and around its streets.
It’s a bit of an unusual festival originating from 1929 when Menton gained its reputation as Europe’s premier producer of lemons. A local business man, owner of the Hotel Riviera decided to commemorate that fact by launching a festival celebrating the blossoming of the citrus trees. It proved a popular idea and the blossom celebration grew each year and has become a major festival which includes incredible lemon and orange based structures which have become ever more complicated and eye-popping.
The festival has become one of the most important events in the French Riviera and attracts almost a quarter of a million people a year who come to Menton to marvel at the sound and light shows and at the unique structures that are made from lemons and oranges – around 145 tonnes of them! The structures are huge and amazing – put together each year by some 300 professionals and reaching anything up to 10 metres high. Designs range from huge champagne shaped bottles, the Eiffel Tower and life sized dinosaurs. The festival follows a different theme each year, this year it’s “Around the World in 80 Days”; past themes have included Disney and Peter Pan’s Neverland. The amazing street parades with their acrobats, bands, dancing in the streets and masked revellers are a perfect antidote to brush away the winter cobwebs.
If you go to the festival you’ll also have the opportunity to attend the International Orchid Festival and Pays Mentonnais crafts fair which are held every year at the same time at the Palais de l’Europe.
If you want to go, try to book accommodation in advance, this is an immensely popular carnival and hotels get fully booked in the town.
At the end of the festival all the fruit that can be salvaged is made into marmalade and limoncello.
You can buy tickets online from the Menton Lemon Festival website.