Lemon Festival in Menton
Menton’s Lemon Festival will be celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. The 2013 edition will be held from February 16th to March 6th.
The theme? “Around the world in 80 days, Menton; secret stopover”. Let’s travel around the globe and relive the 80-year history of a key event organized on the French Riviera in the winter.
At the beginning of the century, Menton created the most traditional of festivals. In the thirties, the city blossomed in originality and citrus fruits took center stage…
A parade to enliven the city
In 1895, hotel owners proposed that the City organise an event to liven up winter. In 1896, the first Menton parade seduced both locals and the wealthy vacationers who had come to the French Riviera to spend their winter months. Kings, princes and artists were regular guests of the local palaces and over time, splendid villas were erected. The 1882 parade stands out in Menton memory as Queen Victoria was in attendance; the event’s grand finale was an extravagant fireworks display on theBay of Garavan.
The “Moucouleti” tradition
The people of Menton entertained themselves with the traditional “Moucouleti,” or “Moccoletti,” a game involving small candles held in the hand. The goal is to blow out the candle of the person next to you while keeping yours lit… A pleasant pretext for romantic encounters, recalls Pierre Masséna. “Young men tried, with dexterity, to put out the candle of the young woman next to them, who held her candle above her head. If the young man succeeded in extinguishing the flame, he could then re-light the lady’s wick and receive a kiss as a reward.”
Lemon joins the dance
In 1929, Menton was still the most important lemon grower on the continent. A hotel owner decided to organise an exhibit marrying flowers and citrus fruits in the Hôtel Riviera gardens – which was a huge success. The idea took to the streets the following year, with ornate chariots displaying orange and lemon bushes. Wishing to increase tourism, the municipality decided to create a parade honouring the local colours, and the Lemon Festival was launched in 1934. Two years later, the first citrus and flower exhibit took place in the Biovès gardens. François Ferrié was put in charge of drawing up the citrus-inspired parade floats and garden motifs, and the Lemon Festival took off from there.
Did you know?
To the delight of some 230,000 visitors each year, Menton imports more than 300 tons of citrus fruit for the Lemon Festival