The Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) is a traditional festive event which is held every year at the end of winter in Menton in the south of France. Each year, over 200,000 tourists visit the city to celebrate the lemon festival for two and a half weeks during carnival season. The festival takes place in the Biovès gardens right in the center of the city.

 

According to a special theme, thousands of lemons, oranges, grapefruits and tangerines are used to create true masterpieces. The fruits are set on structured boxwood wreaths or cage wire constructions in diverse combinations to form different shapes and patterns.

Fête Du Citron

The impressive sculptures can reach up to several meters in height and turn into true light gardens at night. One hundred and twenty tons of citrus fruits from Spain, a million rubber bands and fifteen days of work by a hundred people are needed for the festival.

While the steady installations can be marveled at in the Biovés gardens for the entire duration of the festival, one of the highlights of the event only takes place on its two sundays. This is when the grand parade happens on the Promenade du Soleil. During the procession, giant floats made from citrus fruits drive down the avenue accompanied by marching bands, dancers and folk groups.

At the end of the event, the used fruits – of which 90% are in good condition – are sold at low prices.

Themes In Recent Years

2000: “The Tales of La Fontaine”
2001: “The Stories of Perrault”
2002: “Pinocchio”
2003: “Alice in Wonderland”
2004: “Walt Disney Studio”
2005: “Viva España”
2006: Menton invites the Carnivals of the world – Guest of Honor “Brazil”
2007: Menton invites the Carnivals of the world – Guest of Honor “India”
2008: “Menton invites the Islands of the World”
2009: “Menton celebrates World Music”
2010: “Menton at the Movies”
2011: “Menton celebrates the great Civilizations”
2012: “Menton invites the Regions of France”
2013: “Menton the secret Stop in the Tour around the World in 80 days”
2014: “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”
2015: “Tribulations of a Lemon in China”

 

Fête Du CitronHow Fête Du Citron Evolved

Since the middle of the fifteenth century, the town of Menton has been an important producer of citrus fruits in Europe.
In 1928, the town close to Nice was still the largest lemon producer of the continent. In this year, a hotelier had the idea to organize a private exhibition of flowers and citrus fruits in the gardens of the Riviera Hotel. It was so successful that the municipality took the idea in the following year and made it an official event. Thus, the term “Fête du Citron” was born in 1934.

Today, Fête du Citron is the second big public event on the French Riviera during the winter season and only competes with the famous Nice Carnival.

The next Fête du Citron 2019 will take place from Saturday, 16th February 2019, until Sunday, 3rd March 2019.


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Photos by Saskia Heijltjes, Laurent Carles

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