22 February 2008

Fête du Citron - The Isle of the Lost

Here be dragons - well one dragon, to be precise, with a tail over 30 metres long. There's a damaged raft in his mouth, not to mention a frantic sailor. And this dragon roars - every minute or so - a massive great booming roar. I fell about with laughter and one of the guys who work all day replacing any damaged fruit, asked if I liked this year's display. 'Absolutely,' I said. And we stood together and looked at the dragon and listened to his roar and laughed more. You'll meet him one day when we'll see how he replaces the rotten fruit.

The City's Department of Parks and Gardens collects boxwood from the mountains and hinterland of Menton prior to the Festival. This is used for the contours of the decorations once the metal work has been built.

The statues and floats are covered with wire netting and 70 square metres of boxwood is braided into garlands. Then the lemons and oranges are attached to the netting with elastic bands - yellow and orange bands so they don't show too much. They used to use wire, until one of the gardeners had the idea of elastic bands, which doesn't damage the fruit as much.

Covering 1 square metre of wire netting requires 30 kilos of fruit, nearly 200 lemon and oranges. All the fruit -145 metric tons in all, is imported from Spain. It's delivered to Menton at the end of January and the work begins in early February. Menton cannot produce enough citrus for the festival. The elastic bands are imported from Taiwan and 500,000 of them are needed.

During the two or so weeks of the Lemon Festival, 80 people are involved. On the day before the inauguration, any damaged fruit is replaced. During the festival the rotten fruit is changed every day.

On the moveable floats, the fruit is covered by very fine wire so that spectators don't remove it as the float goes by!


  1. I always heard about this festival, but never made it down there during my 8 years in France. He's quite an impressive creature. I bet even more so in person!

  2. It's so beautiful! We can do so much with fruits : amazing!

  3. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. What a fantastic festival. Now, Jilly, how many fêtes du citron have you seen? And, looking back, do you have a favorite?

    If 1 sq m = 30 kilos, that amazing dragon must weight 3,000!

  4. I think this is so great! The more I see of your town, the more I want to visit. . .Ah, some day.

    Out of curiosity, is the smell of citrus in the air?

  5. I thought Corsica was cool, but this guy is awesome! I Love the sailor hanging from his mouth.

  6. This is a highly imaginative float. Who doesn't love a dragon!? I, too, wonder about the citrus smell; must be divine.

  7. I've given you ONE more of those fabulous awards--it looks like you're collecting them now. :-) I couldn't resist. Your blog and photos are TOO beautiful. Read about it on Wailea DP.

  8. Amazing stuff - love them!!!

    Wish I owned the rubber band company!!!

  9. I'm glad you explained how they attached the fruit. I was showing my mother your pictures and we were both wondering how the fruit were attached! :)

    Every float you show us seems to be more wonderful than the ones before! They are so very creative!

  10. this is unbelievable! what an amazing series.


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