Menton, France: Festivities Surrounded by the Zest of Citrus Fruits

by on December 22nd, 2010
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Boasting 316 cloudless days a year, the small French town of Menton is blessed with exceptional sunshine and a pleasant subtropical microclimate ideal for growing orange groves, lemon trees and palm trees. Located on the Franco-Italian border along the French Riviera, Menton offers two marinas, an old port and half a dozen beaches for visitors enamored with the Mediterranean Sea. Menton, however, is best known for its annual ”Feast of the lemon,” held in honor of this citrus fruit between the months of February and March.

Celebrating “Fête du Citron” in Menton

The ”Fête du Citron” event is held during the town’s Carnival celebrations and foresees the construction of astounding citrus sculptures and appealing floral arrangements. This event attracts more than 230,000 visitors each year and is only second to the Nice Carnival, when it comes to popular events held on the French Riviera.

Legend has it that before abandoning the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve took along a golden fruit. Fearing the wrath of God, Adam persuaded Eve to bury the fruit. After climbing and traversing valleys and plains, Eve fell in love with the Bay of Gravan which was so beautiful and serene it almost resembled the Garden of Eden. In this corner of paradise, she decided to bury the golden fruit. Since then, lemons grew in abundance in these fertile grounds giving life to the myth of the lemon of Menton.

The event is held every year between February and March. Parades, colossal sculptures, decorated platforms and bands bring festivities through the streets of Menton. As the night falls, a float laden with citrus fruits appears from nowhere followed by the rhythmic beat of drums and trumpets. Following the moon-lit parade, a firework display reflects against the pitch-dark sea.

Not to miss is the Festival of Orchids where colors, shapes and fragrances compete at the Palace of Europe. Worth visiting is also the Crafts Fair, offering a smorgasbord of citrus-themed flavors including lemonade, limoncello and special orange wine. For more information about the events you can visit the official Menton Lemon Festival Website.

Other Attractions in Menton

Menton is home to several buildings and palaces of relevant historical value. Also worth mentioning are the many 19th century botanical gardens home to several interesting species.

The Palais de Carnolès, once inhabited by Antoine I of Monaco, is now home to the Museum of Fine Arts. The surrounding garden is worth visiting due to its large collection of citrus plants.

The Basilique of Saint-Michel-Archange, built by architect Lorenzo Lavagna in 1922, boasts baroque architecture and an appealing bell-tower which attracts more than 100,000 tourists each year. The forecourt of the basilica hosts the annual Menton Music Festival held in August.

The Garden of Bioves is a beautiful garden which hosts the annual Feast of the Lemon event. Other gardens of Menton include Villa Maria Serena, the Botanical Garden and the exotic Val Rahmeh, the Colombires, Le Jardin Serre de la Madone, Fontana Rosa and the Clos du Peyronnet.

The historic covered market in belle époque style was built by architect Adrien Rey and boasts over 30 kiosks, offering local and imported produce and vegetables.

Where to Sleep

Hotel Napoleon welcomes its guests with a complimentary lemon drink, which is the essence of the town. Many rooms boast splendid views of the Menton Garavan bay. In the summer-time a private beach is available and artisan ice-cream in 33 flavors can be savored at the nearby Glacier Napoleon, a Brazilian-style ice cream parlor boasting hundreds of types of toppings.

Hotel Napoleon
29 Porte de France
06500 Menton
Phone number: +33 (0)4.93.35.89.50

Where to Eat

Mirazur is Côte d’Azur’s most-talked-about restaurant. Under the guidance of expert chef Mauro Colagreco, guests are granted the freshest flavors of sea and land. The choice of only the freshest ingredients hand-picked from local markets, results in a sublime cuisine with no rivals. Try the red prawn adorned with ribbons of asparagus and zucchini and showered with earthy olive oil, borage and garlic blossoms.

Mirazur
30 Avenue Aristide Briand
Menton, France
Phone number: 011-33-4-92-41-86-86

How to Reach Menton

The charming town of Menton can be easily reached from Italy by hopping on the many trains departing from Genoa, Milan or Turin. The closest airport is Nice Airport, the second busiest airport of France located about 40 minutes away. From the airport, visitors may choose to travel to Menton by car, train, bus or taxi.

Nicknamed the ”Pearl of France”, Menton is becoming a more and more valued town, courtesy of its increased numbers of national and international visitors. Its history, pleasant climate and unforgettable zest of citrus fruits leave an over lasting impression that will hardly be forgotten.


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