If winter has got you feeling run-down and blue, you may need a shot of vitamin C. You can get your full RAA (recommended annual allowance) at the 79th annual Fête du Citron of Menton, which is scheduled for February 17 to March 7, 2012. Menton is a pretty little town on the Côte d’Azur, the last stop in France before Italy. Wealthy Europeans have wintered here for the past few hundred years. The peaceful graveyard on a hill is full of English and Russian names, marking the many who came here in search of a cure for tuberculosis in the mild climate.
This festival is so important that Menton is often called “the City of Lemons.” The theme for this year’s event is “Welcoming the French Regions.” The event is expected to attract 250,000 people and will include vibrant parades of citrus fruits, elaborate sculptures made of lemons and oranges, and other citrus-inspired special events. To celebrate the diverse regions of France, citrus sculptures will depict different aspects of the country, such as an Eiffel Tower for Paris, bien sûr. Parade floats will continue the theme, illustrating the gastronomic region of Burgundy as an escargot, and featuring Creole cuisine and culture from the overseas regions of France.
Each Sunday afternoon there will be a Golden Citrus Parade, with floats adorned in fruit, showering the public with confetti, accompanied by live marching bands. On Thursday evenings, there will be Moonlit Parades that will drive the darkness away with the staccato of drumbeats, fireworks, dancing, and elaborate parade floats along the coast on the Promenade du Soleil. The Biovès Gardens will display giant sculptures constructed out of nearly 15 tons of yellow and orange citrus fruit. Some evenings, the gardens will be transformed into a festive light display with music and special events.
Today’s expression, avoir le menton en galoche (avwahr luh mehntohn ehn galosh), literally means “to have a chin like a clog,” in other words, a protruding chin. A visit to Menton may not be able to help with protruding or receding chins, but it sounds like the prescription for the winter blues.