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lemon tree

La Fête du Citron

Last month, we talked about the tradition of Le Carnaval de Paris, a day of colourful costumes and parades which takes place every February in the French capital. This custom is also celebrated in a similar way in other French cities such as Nice and Dunkerque, and overseas territories such as Guadeloupe. However, there is one town in the south of France which has developed its own, very unique take on this festival. Menton, which sits just over the border from Monaco, has always historically been the biggest European producer of lemons (citrons), and in 1928, local hotel owners decided to celebrate this title by creating a display made of flowers and citrus fruits.

This exhibition was so popular that it was made part of the annual town festival in 1934, and so the Fête du Citron (‘Lemon Festival’ in English) was born. Nowadays, in February, a team of around a hundred people use 120 tonnes of citrus fruits to erect 5 or 6 giant statues, in the shape of anything from the Colosseum in Rome, to a sphinx, from a vintage car, to a fairytale castle. From the middle of February until the beginning of March, the chilly winter weather is brightened up by the yellows and oranges of thousands upon thousands of oranges and lemons, a sight which attracts 240,000 visitors a year.

The theme of this year’s Fête du Citron is Bollywood, so if you take a trip to the town of Menton, you can expect to come across an orange elephant, a lemon yellow Buddha and a multicoloured Taj Mahal!

You can find out more about the Fête du Citron on the Office de Tourisme de Menton’s website.

Click HERE to discover more French traditions.


A basket of lemons or citrons