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Fleeting Wonders: Zesty Sculptures Take Over A French Town

A stroll through the seaside town of Menton, France is refreshing at any time of year. But try to drink it all in right now, and you might get more than you bargained for. Thanks to the annual Fête du Citron, or “Lemon Festival,” the town has been invaded by brightly colored, 10-foot sculptures made entirely of fruit.

From February 13 through March 2, “the streets are given over to these citrus giants,” reports the Fête du Citron official website. Trees grow patterned skirts, and bulbous orange buildings rise into the sky, menaced by pithy dragons. This year’s theme is the classic Roman movie studio Cinecittà, and many of the bright behemoths replicate scenes from Italian films—Cleopatra’s throne backed by an enormous lemon-winged eagle, or two lovers meeting on a zesty bridge.

The festival dates back to the turn of the 20th century, when Menton had more lemons than anywhere else in Europe. It also happened to have some very creative hoteliers, who staged increasingly elaborate winter entertainments. These events, originally meant to draw tourists in the off-season, ended up “as popular with the local population as with the rich winter visitors,” the Fête du Citron’s website explains. What started as a simple parade had, by 1935, evolved into a full-blown Lemon Festival.

A sculptor replaces a piece of pilfered fruit at the 2013 festival.

A sculptor replaces a piece of pilfered fruit at the 2013 festival. (Photo: Perline/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Since then, it’s just gotten bigger, brighter, and more a-peel-ing. This year, 300 professionals placed 140 tons of fruit, piece by piece, to make the sculptures and floats.

 

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A photo posted by Tatiana (@conciergeserviceazur) on

The rest of the festival promises music, parades, and nighttime pyrotechnics. And for depleted partiers, there’s always the last activity: a giant fruit sale, where attendees can take home a piece of the action at a juicy discount.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.