We took the train to Menton today to have lunch by the seaside and to watch the 73rd annual Lemon Festival Parade. Menton is France’s capital of agrumes (citrus fruits), where flowers, plants, and citrus trees thrive all year round in the very mild climate and in the fertile citrus orchards surrounding it. This sunny, picturesque border town is the last French city before entering into Italy along the coast.
The procession consisted of floats created with oranges, lemons, and lots of imagination, and with marching bands and scantily-dressed dancers mixed in between. The theme of the festival was Les Carnavales du Monde (Carnivals of the World), and l’invité d’honneur (the guest of honor) at this year’s festival was Le Brazil, with lots of Samba and Bossa Nova music along the route, and with the famous Sugar Loaf mountain recreated in citrus on one of the floats.
The festival continued in Les Jardins Biovès with Monuments of citrus representing the celebration of Carnival from the four corners of the planet.
In many other Carnival celebrations, it is customary to destroy some portion of the floats or papier-mâché characters that have represented the theme of the festival, by either burning or drowning. The organizers of La Fête du Citron make it clear that this is not the case in Menton: “Et, à la fin de la fête, sa Majesté Carnaval n’est ni brûlée, ni noyée mais tout simplement confite ou pressée !” (And, at the end of the festival, Her Majesty Carnival is neither burned, nor drowned but simply made into jam or juice !)