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  • Writer's pictureDavid Viney

Lemon Festival in Menton

Updated: Jun 24

Every year, the Menton Lemon Festival captivates over 200,000 visitors. You can enjoy the enchantment of the Golden Fruit Corsos and the vibrant Nocturnal Corsos for more than 15 days! The parades of floats are adorned with citrus fruits and led by lively groups. The event is anchored by the citrus motifs exhibition in the Biovès gardens and extends to a Craft Fair, and the fabulous scents of the Orchid Festival.

Lemons in an art installation
84ème Fête du Citron. Photo © Nicolas Sartore

The Berceaux de la Fête du Citron have adorned the Biovès Gardens since 1936. Each year, it takes thousands of hours to create these ephemeral sculptures, the (orange and lemon) fruits of which are placed one by one. These dazzling decorations require nearly fifteen tonnes of citrus fruit!

90e Fête du Citron® d'Olympie à Menton - 2024

There is an Olympics theme to the 90th iteration of the Fête du Citron, with the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad due to be held in France this year. The event runs from the 17th February to the 3rd March 2024. The Lemon Festival® was recognised by the Ministry of Culture and included in the inventory of intangible cultural heritage in France in 2019.

To celebrate the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival®, Rapid Omnisports, in collaboration with the Youth and Sports department, is putting on a series of sports events, including a 24-hour, 5-a-side football tournament on Saturday February 17. The event will also feature the Olympic and Paralympic Flags, as well as the official mascots of the 2024 Olympic Games.

The '24 programme includes a Pasta workshop with Pasta Piemonte (inventors of the famous Menton Lemon Ravioli) on the 21st and 28th February, and a Queen Tribute performance from Italian band 'The Vipers' at the Palais de l’Europe on Saturday 24th.

The Main Events of the Lemon Festival

Once you have explored the Berceaux de la Fête du Citron (see above), the main highlight (on Sundays over three weekends of the festival) is the Corsos des fruits d’or; a parade of coaches and carriages down the Promenade du Soleil in Menton. Brass bands accompany folk groups who twirl, zig-zag and dance between the magnificent citrus fruit floats, cheered on by a large and enthusiast crowd. Confetti fills the warm air.

Dancers at Lemon Festival in Menton
Dancers of the Golden Fruits Parade (2020) © Shesmax

No visit to Menton would be complete without purchasing lots of lemon-related produce. The Craft Fair features lemon-themed earthenware, lemonade, limoncello, orange wine, honey, jams and even lemon-flavoured olive oil. My personal favourite is the lemon-scented soap on a string; perfect if you like long luxurious baths!

Last but not least, the captivating Orchid Festival offers a delightful change of pace. Presented by the Association of Orchidophiles and Epiphytophiles of France, growers compete in both colours and shapes for coveted 'best in show' prizes. The delicate beauty and delightful fragrance of the infinitely varied species never cease to amaze.

The Grave of William Webb Ellis, inventor of Rugby

A lovely morning walk up through the narrow streets of "Le Vieux Menton" brings you to the Cemetery of the Old Château. There are stunning views over the town and the coast from here. It is famous for being the last resting place of William Webb Ellis, who is credited with being the inventor of rugby union. Like many of the people buried here, he came to the warmth of the Riviera to convalesce from TB.

Grave of William Webb Ellis

Why not check out this great video from the 2020 event, to get a feel for what you can expect, when you visit:

How to Get there

  • By train: The best way is to reach Menton is via the TER/SNCF network, with Menton station located less than 200 meters from the entrance to the main events

  • By car: During Sunday corsos, it is strongly recommended to arrive in Menton before 11am. Exit the A8 Autoroute at Junction 59 and take the D2566 down into the centre. There is extensive signage to direct you to suitable parking

  • By bus: A park-and-ride service operates across multiple 'festival shuttle' routes in the town. The best access is to use the free car park situated near exit 59 of the A8, then take the bus from there to the event



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