When life gives you lemons… Throw a party!
If you’ve had enough of winter and are overdue for some zesty entertainment, it’s time to head to Menton on the French Riviera, where you can spend 19 days drinking up the sunshine at La Fête du Citron, which offers parades, music, street performances, local food and stunning views of the panoramic coastline. What better way to break out of hibernation?
The most easterly town on the Côte d’Azur, Menton’s nicknamed the ‘pearl of France’ and, thanks to its temperate subtropical microclimate, boasts many lush gardens. Systematic citrus cultivation there dates back to the 15th century, but it became truly intensive 200 years later. In 1928, an hotelier had the idea to hold a big party to attract visitors, highlighting Menton’s produce. The response was so overwhelming that the party spilled on to the streets and it’s now one of the Riviera’s most important annual events, alongside the Nice Carnival and the Cannes Film Festival.
For almost three weeks, the Jardins Biovès and Menton’s streets are thronged with giant citrus sculptures, and there’s daily and nightly processions of wonderfully decorated floats, a garden of lights, and an eclectic market which showcases local culture and gastronomy.
The 2013 edition of the festival was themed after Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, and last year it was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. For its 82nd edition, the festival will revolve around The Tribulations of a Lemon in China, a play upon Verne’s novel Tribulations of a Chinaman in China. The hero of the novel was a rich Chinese man who was so bored with his life that he decided to end it. However, instead of suicide, he opted to experience a final thrill and hired a hit man to complete the task. After a fantastic series of misadventures and almost fatal moments, Verne’s hero finally realises how valuable life is.
The story’s uplifting message is a perfect fit for this vibrant jamboree which continues to attract revellers of every age and nationality.
The Fête du Citron in Numbers
12 employees are fully occupied with replacing bruised lemons
25 kilos of fruit are needed to cover each square metre of a carnival float
140 tons of citrus fruit are used for the gardens and floats
20,000 hours are worked by the team which puts together the event
250,000 tickets were sold last year
Menton Lemon Festival, February 14 – March 4, Menton, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Tickets from €9. Tel: +33 4 92 41 76 95
From France Today magazine