La Fete du Citron, One of the Zestiest Events on the Riviera

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‘Beneath the zest of oranges and lemons lies one of the World’s Greatest Festivals.’...

France is known for its wealth of delicious wines, delectable champagnes and fragrant cheeses, but did you know that each year it celebrates Lemons? Let us take you on a journey to the stunning coastline of Nice and the beautiful historic town of Menton, where from mid February until March you will discover the Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) taking place.

Now in its 82nd year, this year’s festival is expected to be one of the biggest yet, attracting over 230,000 visitors. The festival is a true celebration of the arrival of spring and for those two weeks the Biovès Gardens in the heart of Menton are taken over by 120 tonnes of ephemeral, dazzling, sunshine coloured, citrus structures. Each display is lovingly hand crafted by local residents, who spend months designing and hand building their creative displays. At night the gardens are transformed into a fairytale experience, filled with sparkly lights and strange sounds.

The pièce de résistance of the festival are the two lemon themed parades. During the ‘Golden Fruit,’ event (the day parade) where confetti is scattered from the sky and dancers and folk groups sing and spin alongside the magnificent floats showcasing the lemon theme of the year. At night the atmosphere shifts towards more of a street carnival, as live orchestras, fire-eaters and brass bands play long into the night, culminating in a spectacular firework display on the sea front.

The city also showcases many of its local artisans during the festival, proving that this city is full or artistic flair. Wooden sculptures, glass engravings, ceramics and pottery, as well as delicious lemon treats and local foods can all be found in the arts and crafts exhibition.

The Fête du Citron is a festival that you must experience so here are a couple of tips to make sure you can enjoy it to the fullest.

  • It’s worth noting that the festival is not a free event and tickets must be purchased separately for each exhibition, ideally beforehand to avoid disappointment (although can be bought on the day), children under the age of 6 go in for free. Tickets can be purchased online.
  • As you can imagine during the weeks before, during and after the festival, accommodation in Menton and its surrounding area, gets booked up very easily. The city has over 30 hotels, a small number of bed and breakfasts, as well as a very good campsite with over 131 pitches.
  • Most people tend to stay in Nice and get one of the many shuttle transport buses to and from the festival

Aside from the Lemon Festival, Menton is a spectacular place and can boast to be one of France’s warmest. Nestles between the Italian Riviera and Monaco, ringed by soaring Alps and the waters of the Mediterranean, it has always been one of the most popular Côte d’Azur stops. The medieval town and Italianate architecture make it a great place to spend the day, sampling the shops, museums and viewing some of the world’s rarest and most beautiful Orchids at the Palais de l’Europe.

We have a number of spectacular properties in the area. Who wouldn’t want to live somewhere where you can ski in the morning, swim in the sea in the afternoon and then sample citrus delights to your hearts content?

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