With its sun and sand, the French Riviera has a lot going for it. But there are two other bounties that bless the region: oranges and lemons. Every year, the small town of Menton celebrates the vibrant local crop with giant citrus statues during their Fête du Citron.
The festival has been going since 1928, taking place from the end of February through the beginning of March. Menton is a citrus-growing region, and about a hundred years ago, city boosters decided to throw yearly festivals to celebrate the sunny fruits. On wire cages, thousands of oranges and lemons are arranged into fanciful designs, depicting trains, windmills, dragons, and even people, such as Cleopatra and Fred Astaire. The designs are looming and colorful, giving the air a citrusy scent for the duration of the fête. Each year, around 240,000 guests wander among the themed floats (in 2018, the theme was Bollywood). On average, 140 tons of citrus are used to construct the displays.
The sculptures are on display for three weeks, with parades and light shows making them glitter at night. Then, at the end of the festival, they are dismantled and the citrus is sold at a steep discount.
Know Before You Go
The festival takes place at the end of February through the beginning of March. In 2019, it will be from February 16 to March 3. Plan ahead, it's very popular.