In pictures: Menton's annual Lemon Festival celebrates Olympic year in zesty style

French Riviera town of Menton celebrates Olympic year during annual Lemon Festiva
French Riviera town of Menton celebrates Olympic year during annual Lemon Festiva Copyright Daniel Cole/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Theo FarrantAP
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When life gives the French seaside town of Menton lemons, they don't just make lemonade – they build enormous floats and parade them through the streets in a joyous two-week fiesta!

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The sunny streets of Menton on the French Riviera are alive with zest as they celebrate the Olympic year with during their annual two-week Lemon Festival extravaganza. 

From towering floats to whimsical sculptures made entirely from lemons and oranges, the small seaside town has turned into a vibrant citrus wonderland.

Named 'Olympia a Menton,' this year's 90th edition of the Lemon Festival pays homage to the Paris Olympic Games in the most fruity fashion imaginable. 

"The Lemon Festival uses 140 tons of citrus fruit, nearly 500,000 fruits that have to be placed one after the other," explains Christophe Ghiena, the technical director of the Lemon Festival.

He adds: "It’s 3,000 hours of fruit handling over two weeks since we have to be very quick to ensure that the fruit remains in the best possible condition during the two-week festival." 

A worker places lemons on an olympic equestrian carnival float during the 90th Olympia in Menton edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, southern France, 17 Feb 2024.
A worker places lemons on an olympic equestrian carnival float during the 90th Olympia in Menton edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, southern France, 17 Feb 2024.Credit: Daniel Cole/AP
An olympic wrestling sculpture made with lemons is pictured during the 90th Olympia in Menton edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, southern France, 17 Feb 2024
An olympic wrestling sculpture made with lemons is pictured during the 90th Olympia in Menton edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, southern France, 17 Feb 2024Credit: Daniel Cole/AP
An olympic rowing sculpture made with lemons is pictured during the 90th Olympia in Menton edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, southern France, 17 Feb 2024.
An olympic rowing sculpture made with lemons is pictured during the 90th Olympia in Menton edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, southern France, 17 Feb 2024.Credit: Daniel Cole/AP
A sculpture of Nike the Greek god of victory made with lemons is pictured during the 90th Olympia in Menton edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton.
A sculpture of Nike the Greek god of victory made with lemons is pictured during the 90th Olympia in Menton edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton.Credit: Daniel Cole/AP

Organisers expect up to 200,000 visitors this year.

Nestled between the southern Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, Menton was once a leading lemon-growing region in Europe. But now only 15 producers remain in the city.

The annual local production is between 100 and 120 tons, not enough to stage the Lemon Festival, so the citrus used to build the floats and sculptures came from Spain and after sorting, will be sold off when the festival ends.

Click play on the web player above to catch all the Lemon Festival's juicy action up close.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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