The Menton Lemon Festival
Now is the time to plan a visit to the Menton Lemon Festival. Born of an abundance of citrus fruits, at a time when Menton was still the largest producer of lemons on the continent, the town is filled every year with colourful displays and a carnival atmosphere. For a fortnight the inhabitants devote themselves to celebration and song. In February!
The ‘Fete du Citron’ celebrates its 80th year from 16th February – 6th March in 2013, and every year it has a theme. Floats and bands will parade along the streets of Menton using lemons to decorate their outfit, while in the Casino Gardens lemons cover the exhibits and huge temporary statues are built with citrus fruit.
Last year the theme was ‘regions of France’, and the gigantic statues included an Eiffel Tower, a chateau of the Loire and a Breton lighthouse all basted in lemons, oranges and the odd spot of green foliage. Next year the theme is ‘Round the World in 80 Days’ so expect the Taj Mahal to make an appearance.
No one is quite sure why, but it all began but it started in 1932 when an enterprising innkeeper loaded a few carts with orange and lemon trees and brought them into town, to create a display. Now it consumes 146,000 tons of fruit every year and tickets are needed for some events.
Whilst in Menton, also try to visit the recently opened Jean Cocteau museum, an adventurous escapade into modern architecture which was inspired by the light and dark of Cocteau’s imagination. Sometimes the stark black and white facade looks like a row of peaceful seashore cliffs, at others more like a set of teeth. Inside, the town’s most famous artist is celebrated with pictures, film clips and writings demonstrating the scope of his artistic achievements.
Finding accommodation in Menton can be difficult at this time of year, so we recommend that you stay somewhere on the train line and come to visit for the day. This opens up endless possibilities, for Menton is the closest French town to Italy. Use the direct train which runs from Menton to Genoa and stops first in coastal Ventimiglia just over the border.
Here are some useful websites:
And some more pictures!