When my girlfriend suggested a trip to Menton to enjoy the Festival Du Citron - which roughly translates to Lemon Festival – I was not amused. Why on earth would I want to go and see a bunch of lemons? However, she insisted that it would be a fantastic trip. As one might expect, her persistence won the day and I found myself on the train from Nice to Menton on a rather brisk Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, the trip proved to be much better than I would have imagined.
The festival is made up of several different aspects. The main part is a garden that is made of different sculptures crafted out of lemons and organs. On the festival’s website, which I checked before we left, it showed scenes from Hollywood movies and attractions from around the world all created in lemons and oranges. At night this garden is illuminated with an array of giant spotlights – the reason for this escaped me. There is also a parade where floats decorated in oranges and lemons drive through the centre of town. In short, there are lots of oranges and lemons.
Despite my abundant and quite evident cynicism about the festival, I must admit that it surprised me tremendously. Not only was it a barrage of colour, but it also showcased some surprisingly good sculptures. The theme of the 2012 event was the different regions of France. This inspired some truly marvelous pieces of art. The Bordeaux section was a giant bottle of wine. The Alsace section was a wonderful catsle. And, the Bretagne section was a lighthouse.
My favourite section was Paris. As you would no doubt expect, there was a lemon Eiffel Tower. This was impressive enough in both design and scale. However, I was gripped more by a replica of a Paris metro station. It took the form of the street entrance and was decorated with the sign and even a few steps. Despite the materials it was made from, it managed to hold an air of authenticity.
The Lemon Garden was a surprisingly good afternoon. It cost us 9Euros each to get in, but was very much worth it. The festival is held in February each year.