The Wildly Colorful Fête du Citron in Menton, France

If you’re planning to visit the South of France in February, don’t miss out on the lively Fête du Citron in Menton! Though the French Riviera attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors in the summer, the South of France makes the perfect winter getaway. The Côte d’Azur experiences an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, mild temperatures in the winter, and is definitely less crowded than the summer months.

There is a great sense of pride you feel when the French speak of their country, from wine to making sure every weekend is spent outdoors enjoying the country’s beautiful landscape. When I first arrived in Nice, I was given lots of tips and suggestions for places to visit and things to do. 

A place I was recommended to visit was Menton, France and more specifically, its annual Fête du Citron held in February. I remember asking, “A festival for lemons? How does this work? What does someone do at this festival?” 

What is the Fête du Citron

The concept of La Fête du Citron came about in the late 1920’s, and it was officially launched in 1935.

Menton was Europe’s largest producer of citrus, and the locals wanted to boost tourism in Menton. Naturally, why not combine the two?

It was very common for people, especially royalty to visit the French Riviera during the winter months. Hence, why the festival occurs in February. And it was a success! The festival has been going strong ever since. 

Some years, the organizers select a theme for the festival. Elaborate designs, made from lemons & oranges, are then created to fit the theme! Past themes have included Broadway, Bollywood, Disney, France’s regions, and Fantastic Worlds – to name a few.

For the 3-week long celebration, you can catch lively parades during the day and night, the Garden of Lights at night, and walk through the colorful Biovès gardens to see the yellow and orange designs up close.

The latest information on the Fête du Citron, including timetables and events can be found here.

Getting to Menton

Menton is located in the Côte d’Azur. It is the most southeastern city in France, and in fact, is the last city in France before crossing the Italy border. 

By Plane

The closest international airport to Menton is Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. 

The most convenient and most expensive way to get to Menton from the airport is by taxi or Uber. You can expect to may ~€50-60 one way with Uber, and more via taxi.

The cheapest way to get to Menton from Nice airport is to take the bus. From Terminal 1, you can take bus 100 or 110 Express to Menton.

Two additional alternatives for getting to Menton from the airport include renting a car and driving yourself, or to take the train from Nice Saint-Augustin (Airport). The train from Saint Augustin to Menton lasts about 50 minutes and costs ~€7.

By Train

If you are visiting the French Riviera, chances are that you will be staying in a city outside of Menton, such as Nice, Cannes, or Antibes. Fortunately, all the towns on the Côte d’Azur (on the coast) are connected by train.

The trains to Menton are operated by SNCF, the national train operator in France. You can view the latest schedules and book tickets on their website.

From Nice Ville to Menton, the train ride lasts about 40 minutes and a one-way ticket costs €5.50.

The train from Antibes to Menton is longer. You can expect the train ride to take ~1 hour 15 minutes. A one-way ticket costs just under €10.

From Monaco, the train ride to Menton takes 10-15 minutes and a one-way ticket will cost you €2.30.

Where to stay in Menton for Fête du Citron

The best neighborhoods to stay in Menton are the Old Town and the Old Port.

Menton has a very colorful old town, much like the towns on the French and Italian Rivieras. The narrow passageways are lined by apartments and eateries, and pathways which eventually lead you to Baroque-style Basilica Saint Michel.

Menton’s old town is situated by the sea, and is a convenient ~15 minute walk from the train station, or “gare” in French. Staying in the old town and old port means you’ll have everything at your doorstep, and so you won’t waste time getting yourself to the next destination.

Bisous.

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