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Celebrate the Festival of Lemons in Menton, France - 2014

Amidst celebrating Nice Carnaval and the Mimosa Festival in the Cote D’Azur, the seaside city of Menton is celebrating its 79th annual Fête du Citron - the Lemon Festival, to be held from February 15 to March 2, 2014. Menton has gained an international fame due to this fest, which is often called the City of Lemons.
The event hosts vibrant parades of citrus fruits, elaborate sculptures made of lemons and oranges, exceptional spectacles and more.

Each year the event has a different theme -- heroes from the world of cartoons (Walt Disney) or comic-books such as Asterix (1997), Tintin (1998), the French literature with the Fontaine Fables (2000), the Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (2001), Pinocchio (2002), Alice in Wonderland (2003), cinema with Walt Disney Studios© (2004), a European country with Spain (2005) or carnivals of the world with Brazil as guest of honour for 2006, India for 2007, the World's Islands for 2008, the Musics of the World for 2009, the Cinema for 2010, even The Greatest Civilizations for 2011.

For 2012 Menton welcomes the French regions with citrus-sculptures to depict different aspects of the country, such as an Eiffel Tower for Paris. Parade floats will depict the regions as well, illustrating Burgundy as an escargot, and boasting creole cuisine and culture from the overseas regions of France.

2014 Theme

This year's theme will be "20,000 Leagues under the Sea" and narwhals, whales, giant squids and other creatures will add to the traditional repertoire of citrus statues. reveal all their secrets in the spotlights of the Gardens of Light.

The Lemon Festival began in the 1930s, the result of the lemons grown in the region of Menton being renowned for its quality. The city today is one of the main players in the region's boosting of citrus fruit cultivation.

Fete du Citron Highlights

The Golden Citrus Parade:
On Sundays enjoy citrus fruit-decorated floats parade along Promenade du Soleil along the sea front. Between the floats, bands, folkloric groups, drum majorettes and marching bands a fantastic atmosphere will be created.

Two evenings processions on Thursdays will also be held, illuminating the city in festive lights, the center-piece will be the grand display of fireworks on the bay.

Les Jardins de Lumière: The Gardens of Light) in the Biovès Garden throughout February and March will host the traditional citrus decorations. Somewhat like the twelve labours of Hercules, the fairy stories have inspired the city’s artists to create monumental structures.

The Palais de l’Europe will host, as every year :
The Orchid exhibition and the Arts and Crafts show with jam, jelly, honey, liqueur, etc. as well as scented soap and perfume. There will also be crafts from the Menton region: wood carving, glass engraving, ceramics, miniature painting, flower-petal picture frames.

Every day: Enjoy a brass band parading through the streets of the city. Theatrical evenings are also scheduled at the Palais de l’Europe.

So You Think You Know Citrus?

The Lemon Festival provides visitors with an opportunity for discovering the fascinating world of citrus. The Palais Carnolès garden has the largest citrus collection in Europe: grapefruit, lemon, kumquat, tangerine, clementine, Seville orange.

The rarest varieties have been introduced, from the Chinese mandarin orange to the lemon of Sochi (citrus medica). During the Lemon Festival some guided tours will be organised by the Tourist Office of Menton.

History of the Festival: Menton Goes to the Lemons

In 1895, a group of hoteliers, seeking a way of providing winter entertainment for the city, suggested to the municipality that there be a parade through the city. By 1896, this new event of Menton was as popular with the local population as with the rich winter visitors. At the time, it was fashionable to spend the winter months in the mild climate of the French Riviera. Kings, Queens, Princes, artists and performers stayed in the palaces of Menton, or had splendid villas built.

The festival of Menton was then very similar to its cousin in Nice: a parade of “big heads”, confetti-throwing, flower processions... the Mardi Gras parade leading to a bonfire to sacrifice His Majesty King... with merrymaking in the streets, feasting and all the extravagance characteristic of the revelry before the austere time of Lent.

In 1928, Menton was still the number one lemon-growing region in Europe. An hotelier had the excellent idea of organising an exhibition of flowers and citrus fruit in the gardens of the Hôtel Riviera. It was so successful that, the following year, the event moved into the streets, with carts covered with orange and lemon trees along with lovely local girls. Wishing to develop tourism, the municipality sought to give to this new event a typically local colour: The Lemon Festival was born in 1935. One year later, the first exhibition of citrus fruit and flowers was launched in the Biovès gardens. François Ferrié was in charge of designing floats decorated with lemons and oranges and decorations in the gardens. It was proven to be an enormous success, confirmed year after year with some visits, street's animations, night parades, and the Gardens of Light.
Based on information provided by Menton Office de Tourisme

© 2012 December 20, 2013