Lemons and more lemons are overflowing the streets at the Lemon Festival in France. If you love the pucker of a tart lemon or the fresh, sweet taste of lemonade, you will love France’s Lemon Festival. The two-week long event is held annually in late February/early March each year in Menton, which is in southern France. Menton is also known as the “Pearl of France.” The festival began in 1929 under the name “Riviera Lemon Festival” because it was held at the Riviera Hotel. In 1934, Riviera Lemon Festival changed its name to the Lemon Festival or Fête du Citron.
From February to March, Menton is filled with a variety of lemon sculptures. The lemon/orange statues vary widely, including animals, plants, and cartoon characters. When looking at the different citrus statues, the human eye sees the wide variety of artistic talent and imagination that goes into creating these masterpieces. The sculptures use about 145 tons of citrus. The lemon statues are designed by artists from all over the world based upon a theme chosen for that year.
The festival has many other activities as well, including:
- The Parade of Golden Fruit
On Sunday, Menton citizens march toward the Mediterranean Sea wearing costumes made out of lemons and oranges. They also decorate their cars with lemons and oranges.
- The Moonlit Parade
The days often end with a moonlit parade through Menton along the edge of the Mediterranean Bay.
- Gardens of Light
Gardens of Light are held in the Bioves Gardens. The lemon sculptures are lit up, creating a magical, enchanting place.
There are several ways to get to Menton:
There are 2 stations in Menton: Menton Gare and Menton Garavan. The TGV Méditerranée (fast train) from Paris takes about 6 ½ hours. The Regular Express Train (TER) of Monaco takes about 11 minutes and from the city of Vintimille (Italy), it takes about 9 minutes.
The closest airport is Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. The airport is about 30 minutes from downtown Menton.
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