If you are a regular reader of Riviera Kitchen you know about our obsession with lemons from Menton.  They have been part of our recipes from the very beginning of our project, and this year we had the pleasure of attending the legendary “Fete du Citron” or Lemon festival that happens each year in Menton.

Stephen and Segolene

The festival began in 1934, when Menton was the largest lemon producer in Europe.  Today these famous lemons are a true luxury item in the culinary world, with a small harvest that is prized for its soft and sweet flavor with just a hint of acidity.  Protected from winds in the basin of Menton, which boasts the warmest average temperatures in France, the lemons thrive on the rocky soil specific to this region.

Menton Lemons!

Just drinking the juice each morning, you realize the sweet taste is truly unique, not bitter at all.  Ségolène is sure to try some of her lemons in Canarino, where the real perfume of the zest can be appreciated in a hot tea.

The lemon celebration continues today, each year the city of Menton decorates their famed gardens with towering citrus sculptures.  Each year has a theme, and this year it was the regions of France.  We were treated to elaborate lemon castles, giant champagne bottles pouring into a fountain and even a citrus Eiffel Tower.

At night the citrus floats parade through the streets in a carnival atmosphere.  It is super odd, and charming at the same time!  While the average age of the crowd was a tad bit higher than one would expect, there was an interesting mix of old and young dancing through the streets.

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