The Lemon Fiesta of France - The Celebrations During the Lemon Festival

The Carnival of Lemon in France

Every year, the French town of Menton hosts an event unique in the world, La Fete de Citron, translated – the Lemon Festival. The festival is celebrated since citrus fruits bring Menton its wealth and reputation.

                The Lemon Festival usually takes place between mid-February until March. This is the second most important festival on the French Riviera and draws in a crowd of over 250,000 people. During the festival, around 145 tonnes of oranges and lemons are transformed into carnival floats. Over 300 professionals work together to make giant sculptures out of citrus fruits. The lemons grown in the Menton area are favored by the world’s star chefs, for their distinct flavor and superior sugar content, which has lead to Menton’s title as the Lemon Capital of France.

Lemon Festival in France
Lemon Festival in France

History of Lemon festival:

                In the late 19th century, a town parade was proposed in an attempt to boost Menton’s winter tourism.The project was designed with wealthy holiday-makers in mind and eventually Menton became the place to spend the winter months. Kings, princes and artists alike filled the luxury hotels or their own magnificent villas.

                Menton became the continent’s premier producer of lemons in 1929 and the first flower and citrus exposition was organized at the Hotel Riviera gardens. Due to its great success, the exposition extended into the streets with wagons beautifully planted with oranges and lemons in the following years. In order to develop tourism, the parade was given a title reflecting the feel of Menton and in 1934 the Lemon Festival or Fête du Citron was officially born. 

The celebrations during the festival:

Sleepy Menton bursts into a riot of color during the festival time. People find it very exciting and full of fun. Laughter and joy shine from happy faces everywhere. The festival is enjoyed for three whole weeks. Along with a daily Citrus Exposition, parades on Sundays,Corsos Nocturnes with fireworks on Thursday nights, and Jardins de lumières on Fridays are conducted.

There will be permanent Citrus Exhibition in the Jardin Biovès which is a tour around the cultures of the world through the fantastical fruit statues.

The Parade of Golden Fruit: This is held every Sunday. During early afternoons, Fruity floats glide on a route through the crowded town. The decorated floats that move along the Promenade du Soleil bordering the sea are accompanied by musicians, folk groups and majorettes. Fanfares, Drums, Costumes and sparkles abound in the streets.

Moonlit Parade:This is celebrated on Thursdays. The french say that on this day the fruits of the sun have a date with the moon. As the night falls on the small beautiful city, the calm atmosphere that pertained during the day time is filled with a festivity mood. Fireworks and celebrations galore. This is a celebration of the sun, with everyone "dancing in the moonlight".

Gardens of Light: Jardins Biovès has a spectacular sound and light show that dances around the huge orange and lemon statues every Tuesday and Friday evening. The expositions are animated with dancers. You will encounter bizarre sounds, strange creatures borne of light, displays and other illuminated motifs.

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Other exhibitions around the place:

While coming to take part in the lemon Lemon festival, you can also view two exhibitions that will be hosted at the Palais de l’Europe, next to the Boivès Gardens. The orchid festival, exibiting the world’s most beautiful orchids with amazing colors, shapes and mysterious smell. There is highly popular Salon de l’Artisanat (Arts and Crafts Fair) which exibits wooden sculptures, glass engraving, ceramics and pottery. Traditional products of the region inspired by lemons like jams, jellies, honey and liqueurs; soaps and perfumes are also available.

               There are chances to visit the gardens of the Palais Carnolès which has the largest collection of citrus fruit in Europe : grapefruit trees, citron trees, kumquats, mandarin orange trees, clementine trees, Seville orange trees etc. The rarest varieties have been planted there, from Chinese mandarins to citron trees from Sochi.And finally you can buy the citrus fruit used in the festival to make copious amounts of jam, syrup and more.

Every year there will be a specific theme for the Lemon festival. This is the 78th year of the festivities and this year the theme of the Lemon Festival is: “Menton will honor the Great Civilizations!” The celebrations will be held from February 18th to March 9th in 2011.Some of the events are free, but you need to buy tickets to see the parades. Tickets range from 8 euros to 17 euros.

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Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands


Great ~ I really enjoyed experiencing this festival via your hub!

GREESHMA SABU 5 years ago


Kevin Peter profile image

Kevin Peter 3 years ago from Global Citizen Author

Hi Trish,

Thanks for enjoying the hub.

Hi Greeshma,

Happy to know that the hub helped you with your assignment.

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