About the Author

author photo

The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

See All Posts by This Author

French Casino Lemon Festival


 French Casino Lemon Festival is indeed a cute title – n’est ce pas? but more than that it is also relevant. Because, as you will recall in my LAST POST the subject was oranges. (and alcohol, bien sur) So now, it’s time for Lemons. (and yes, I promise, the next post will not be about the Bells of St. Clemens!)

So – why Lemons?  Why is yer ‘ole pal DA BG  – goo-ru of French Country Travel Life, ramblin’ on about Lemons?

Well, it’s like this. I rarely watch TV. And on those rare occasions, my choice of fare is almost always a documentary. Over the past month, there have been three docs pass my screen totally concerned with, or referencing, the lemons of Menton.

Now, as you will recall from “French Geography for Smarties” Menton (pro: “mon tawn”) is at the tail end of the French Riviera. Smack dab against the Italian border. This factoid means that Menton is a “shopping portal.” The temporary destination of other Riveria-ites who pass through it to Italy. Where they shop ’til they drop at lower-than-French prices. And return. With no duty, no customs check. (That’s Europe, folks!)

Other than that singular point of distinction, Menton, is yet another fun- in- the- sun -on- the -cote- d’zur location. But, happily, without the faux glitz and nose in the air attitude of Cannes. Or the “jet set-we-bathe-in-$100-champagne” ambience of St. Tropez.

But in the hills above the city(what the locals who’ve never seen the Rockies would call “Mountains”) there grows the fabled Lemons of Menton.

Why all the fuss over these “citrons?” Well, first of all, the “LOM” is not as acidic as it’s non Menton Brothers. While it’s always a semantic minefield to attempt to “describe” a taste(unless you’re a nerdy wine snob) the lack of acidity gives the LOM a softer, more subtle flavor. Very much favored by Gourmet restauranteurs. Most of whom, on the Riviera, have a “dedicated” supplier in them thar hills.


As you might expect, this revered Citron is Menton’s prinicpal claim to fame. And as such is celebrated with  a yearly festival. Now in it’s 8Oth year. That’s the good news. The bad is that owing to the fact there are only about 15 “Lemonists” left in Menton, the majority, if not all of the  145 tons of fruit needed is imported from……you guessed it……Morocco!

Menton’s Lemons are partially, if not totally responible for Monaco’s Casino culture. This is because “back in the day” Menton was a part of Monaco. The heavily-taxed-for-it’s-Lemons part.

Finally, “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” the Menton-ites, taking a cue from Robespierre and his posse – revolted. Peacefully, I’m happy to report. The result left Monaco without the mountains  o’ cash the lemon taxes had provided. Viola – enter the Casino!

As you would expect there is a “Hotel Lemon” in Menton. Certainly “Tarte du Citron”. And tho’ I haven’t checked, I’d be willing to bet a bottle of  Chateau Pichon, Comtessee de la Lande 1984, that you could also find an organic juice bar offering “Lemon smoothies.”

Prove me wrong and get a great bottle of wine. Now, how cool is that?


What are ya thinkin’?

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

23 Responses to “French Casino Lemon Festival”

  1. winnie moon says:

    the french always seem to come up with the most origianl excuses to have a party!

  2. steve london says:

    since they’re doing almost everything they can with lemons….surely they must make a lemon wine?

  3. davis courtland says:

    steve…..while it sounds logical…..ask yourself…”would DA BG somehow have missed ANYTHING connected with wine?

  4. beatrice alman says:

    davis……it could happen…..but i seriously doubt it!

  5. randi calda says:

    very interesting post…but sad that they have to import lemons for their own festival.

  6. tamara dennis says:

    totally agree randi…but i think you’ll find that most places that have some kind of celebration that revolves around a natural resource….are forced to import.

  7. wanda morrow says:

    would love to prove you wrong……will put “check for menton lemon smoothies ” on my “too do before i die “list. (lol)

  8. marion debeers says:

    no duty, no taxes, no customs check…..sounds like shoppers heaven to me

  9. anne perkins says:

    i’m with you there marion….when are we leaving? (lol!)

  10. davos formento says:

    i assume the small number of lemon producers is due to foreigners making the other farmers “an offer they can’t refuse?”

  11. martin carleson says:

    davos…isn’t that the reason all small farmers sell out?

  12. elmer tippe says:

    martin, davos……i have a farm (not lemons, not in menton) make me an offer!

  13. megan ambrose says:

    at last..the truth..DA BG (ocassionally)watches TV! (lol)

  14. artie shaw says:

    will be checking out the speciality stores as a result of this post to see if the lemons of menton are available here…(doub it, tho’)

  15. candance meeker says:

    artie..don’t know where you are…but i’d doubt it too…if there’s only 15 lemon farmers in production…..

  16. betty freeman says:

    i echo your comments candace…probably all gobbled up by the locals and those high class restaurants….i would think.

  17. helga evers says:

    i’m on the same program wanda…good luck to us both!

  18. kevin quister says:

    good to know there is variety in the lemon world.

  19. martha whitehouse says:

    that pie looks yummy enough to jump off the screen!

  20. sanders morgan says:

    sorry to burst yur bubble martha…..but even in this age of daily digital wonders,….there is no tasting the virtual pie.

  21. helen furman-barr says:

    sanders…you mean there’s not “an app for that?”

  22. ted danbury says:

    fascinating to learn that lemons were responsible for the casion in monaco.

  23. alma smetters says:

    ted…no limit to what you can learn from DA BG…..right?

Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...