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When life gives you a lemon, don’t make lemonade; Come to France instead and enjoy the Menton Lemon Festival.
Fête du citron, as they say in French, is a unique carnival that you won’t get to experience anywhere else. (Not in the world or universe)
And once you are in Menton, recovering from the festive mood ain’t easy. Because when it happens, the entire town dazzles with yellow color and is scented with lemons.
You’d see this golden citrus fruit everywhere your eyes can go….. a site hard to witness in your entire lifetime. And the true fun begins after that.
Everything About The Lemon Festival of Menton, France
Countless lemons organized carefully to create gigantic sculptures of animals, famous architecture, and towns, are visible from every corner of Menton.
It seems as if all the lemons in the world were used to create them. But only those from the town are used. Shocked?
That’s true! Menton has the capacity to produce thousands of lemons per hectare. And each one of them is special due to the care with which they are grown.
These citrus fruits are seen everywhere in the town, from cuisine to culture. The Menton Lemon Festival ( Carnaval de Menton) is a part of this culture which is celebrated with pride and passion.
What Happens at the Fête du citron?
The only thing to do in Menton is have endless fun. More than 2 lacs tourists come here just for that, especially in February.
It is when the festival is celebrated and the streets come alive for straight 15 days.
People dance, play, and enjoy during that time and artists show off their creativity through exhibitions. Here are the programs organized for the celebration you must enjoy.
1. Exhibition of Citrus Patterns
Venue- Bioves Gardens
Fee- Free Entrance
Timing- 3:30 PM
Do not miss the exhibition part. You’ll see colorful figures made of lemon as per the theme which changes every year.
Last year was the 88th edition with ‘Operas and Theatres’ as the theme. ‘World festivals, fantastic worlds, Bollywood, Alice in wonderland, Disneyland, love, and passion were the previous themes.
The sight is so colorful that nobody can be untouched by the lemon fever at the Menton festival.
2. The Craft Fair
Venue- Palace of Europe
Fees- Free Entrance
Timings- 10 am to 6 pm ( 2 pm on Sunday)
The next thing to do at Menton Lemon Festival is to explore the scents and flavors of lemon here. From limoncello, beer, and jams, to orange wine you can taste everything during the craft fair.
3. Orchid Festival
Venue- Palace of Europe
Fees- Free Entrance
Timings- 10 am to 6 pm (2:30 pm on Sunday)
Lemons are not the only thing that makes the lemon festival special. The color-rich orchids that bloom during February also give the best view.
So, take out some time and travel to the world of orchids at the Palace of Europe.
4. Corsos of Golden Fruits
Venue- Sun Walk
Fees- Free for kids under 6, 12 € for adults who wish to enjoy the festival from the grandstand
Pay 8 € if you wish to stand in the walkway
Get ready for the true fun! The sun walk route is going to be filled with ballets, cradles, and confetti. Folk groups and people dressed in lively outfits dancing in the middle of alleys will make your day.
5. Night Parades
Venue- Sun Walk
Fees- Same as for Corsos of Golden Fruits
Timings- 9 pm to 10:30 pm
Do attend the Menton Lemon Festival on Thursday. It’s when the music fills the atmosphere firework colors the sky at night and illuminated floats make you gaga.
The Parade is the must-enjoy part of this event to experience the nightlife here.
Date and Venue:
Every year it is held in February, and this year is no different. The event will start on February 11, 2023, and end on the 26th of the month.
During those 15 days, several exhibitions and programs will be organized in Promenade du Soleil, Menton.
It would be a crowded affair, thus to make things go smoothly parking areas, sign boards, accessible toilets, and other facilities are arranged.
History Behind The Lemon Festival of France
Menton is known for lemons which are quite different in terms of appearance and quality. Today, the town is one of the best producers of lemon in the world.
But in past, it was the main producer of this golden fruit in Europe during 1928. With time, it became the ‘Lemon Capital of Europe.’
Fête du citron was the beginning of this status when a hotelier proposed the idea of an exhibition showing the citrus fruits and flowers from their hotel’s garden.
The event turned out a great success and later in 1934, Menton Lemon Festival came into existence.
Story Behind the Fest
There is one more story behind this unusual festival of golden fruits which is related to the first humans of the world.
According to the locals, Adam and Eve traveled around the world after getting expelled from the Garden of Eden.
Eve was carrying a lemon that she wanted to bury in the most beautiful place. She found a paradise and buried the fruit. The place later became Menton.
Things to Know Before Attending the Carnival
It’s obvious to get lost in the festivities and one can’t help it because the atmosphere is very addictive here. But, there are a few things to remember for uninterrupted fun.
1. Do come before 11 am on Sundays otherwise, you won’t get a seat
2. Avoid bringing your pets as it is strictly prohibited for their own safety
3. If you are coming by your own vehicle, park it at the Rondelli stadium car park ( gates open from 5 pm)
4. Free shuttle buses run only on Sunday
5. Take a train to Menton SNCF station if you are coming via public transport. The station is closest to the event’s gates.
6. Wear masks
7. Don’t carry crackers, fireworks, metal objects, suitcases, and bags
What Happens to Tons of Fruits After Festival?
Carnival de Menton might not seems economical and environment-friendly to many. However, not even a single lemon goes to waste after the festival ends.
Nearly, 140 tons of lemons and oranges that are used to create those stunning structures are sold off at cheap prices.
Spain gets a large portion of them every year.
Other Things to do in Menton
If you are wondering there is anything else than a lemon that makes Menton famous. Yes, there are plenty of tourist attractions and things to do in Menton town before you end your journey.
The town offers other magical experiences for the one who is willing to go deeper into its past and picturesque locations.
For beginners, here are the things to do in Menton:
1. See more than 1,500 types of rare plants at The Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden
2. Couples can enjoy their evening at Les Sablettes Beach with a glass of wine or doing jet-skiing
3. If history doesn’t bore you, find the pieces of Menton in the Regional Museum of Prehistory
4. Pay your tribute to the rugby inventor William Webb Ellis in the Old Chateau
5. Enjoy your lunch while strolling the charming streets of Promenade du Soleil
A Glimpse of Menton- The Lemon Capital of Europe
Menton is correctly named the ‘Lemon Capital of France.’ It got the status during the early 1900s for being the main producer of lemons then.
Today, this riviera paradise is one of the best lemon producers in the world. All credit goes to the mild weather here that supports the production of this golden fruit.
Menton is also known as the ‘Pearl of France’ for being located on the Mediterranean Sea on the southeast coast of France, just next to Italy.
(So close that you can cross the borders within 10 minutes.)
The mild weather, beautiful beaches, lemon-scented gardens, and Jean Cocteau’s architecture will not make you leave Menton for a while.
They, in fact, made this small town one of the best destinations in France.
How to Get There?
Even if it is your first time, traveling to Menton is not that difficult. The town is accessible from Italy, Nice, and Genova. To be precise, you can opt for these three ways:
1. Take a ride via the A8 motorway or drive through Monaco
2. Land at Nice-Cote d’Azur Airport if you are coming from Paris
3. The train is the easiest way to travel between Italy, Nice, and Menton, in fact from Paris if you are taking TGV
[ Tip: Keep coins with you as the town has several toll gates to reach tourist attractions here]