In depth: the “Fête du Citron” in Menton, an avalanche of bright colour and vitamin C during winter on the French Riviera

For over 90 years, the Fête du Citron in Menton, has been one of the major winter events on the French Riviera, rivalled only by the Carnival of Nice. Despite having been around here now for the best part of 30 years, until now I had never bothered to go to visit it, so this week I decided to take advantage of the fact that I have more spare time than I have had over the last 7 years to check it out and I really loved it: the friendly vibes, the bright colours, the amazing creativity, the positive energy radiating from the town, clearly the fruit (pardon the pun) of thousands of hours of hard work. 

This article will first explain the background of the festival and how it’s organised, then I’ll share some photos from my recent visit for you to get a general feel of it and I’ll finally finish up with some practical information on how to make the most of your visit and avoid some easily avoidable logistical mishaps. 

Now you can understand what the logo of the French Riviera Blog represents!!! 😉 Not just bright colours and a source of Vitamin C but a staple of the local economy for several centuries.
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Picture of the Day: mimosas in full bloom

It may be the season of carnivals but this time of the year on the French Riviera is also the time of the mimosa tree, which colours the whole countryside in a beautiful bright and fragrant yellow which is wonderful for photos but horrible for people who are allergic to the pollen! Why not go for a nice hike in the hills this weekend, especially close to the village of Tanneron in the foothills of the Esterel just behind Cannes, where you can enjoy some fantastic views. If you need some inspiration on where to go, follow the recommendations in the dedicated article, have fun! PS. This photo was taken just across the border in Italy, in the beautiful gardens of Villa Hanbury, you’ll find more about this beautiful place soon…

Picture of the Day: clouds, ice and mist blend together over Chicago #worldtravellerblog

I’ve never actually been to visit Chicago, just transited 3 times through the airport but this shot I got before landing at O’Hare airport in January 2018 certainly makes me want to go and visit this apparently beautiful and windy city (though perhaps at a time of the year where the weather is more clement!). I have to say that flying over a frozen Lake Michigan whilst jet-lagged and seeing the famous skyline suddenly piercing through the layers of clouds made me wonder if I hadn’t mistakenly taken a flight to a modern-day Asgard instead of the American Mid West! This is a great way to close off February, hoping to get a touch of spring soon #tbt

Picture of the Day: One Monte Carlo, the new face of Casino Square

A blend of old and new, this is the brand new face of the Casino Square in Monte-Carlo, with the inauguration of the “One Monte Carlo” complex on the former location of the Art Deco (and slightly Stalinist) Sporting d’Hiver building that was demolished in 2014. The whole “neighbourhood” houses residences, a conference centre and especially a host of luxury boutiques such as the 3-story Louis Vuitton store you can see here. Personally I’m still undecided if it’s cool or not, ie. a real asset to the Principality or just a monstrous carbuncle (to quote Prince Charles talking about Canary Wharf in London) – time will tell, though I have to admit it’s a relief for the construction works to be over, just waiting for the gardens to be rebuilt and Casino Square will again be the centrepiece of Monte-Carlo…

Picture of the Day: alfresco lunches in Menton

The “winter” weather this February has been exceptionally mild and beautiful on the French Riviera, especially compared to this time last year when it snowed at quite low altitudes and I had to go to Belgrade where it was -17C… After my Monday morning visit to the Fête du Citron in Menton, I just took an hour to wander around and soak in the sunshine, it was pretty amazing and everyone else in the town seemed to agree, given how full the terraces were, long may this weather continue!

Picture of the Day: sunset over Nice

Palm trees, the Mediterranean Sea and the sky on fire… Another spectacular winter sunset over the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, captured last month just in front of the Meridien hotel, the clouds were particularly stunning that evening and the atmosphere was absolutely magical. The weather’s already getting warmer and the days longer, spring will soon be with us… Have a great week!

Picture of the Day: Prince Albert I of Monaco

The western side of the Rock of Monaco really has the stamp of Prince Albert I, who reigned from 1889 to 1922 and was also known as the “Navigator Prince”. Nowadays his statue is in a prime position in the beautiful St Martin gardens, directly overlooking the museum who he initiated and opened in 1910, the world-famous Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Find out more about the Prince and the museum in this article, it’s a great way to spend this beautiful Sunday!

Picture of the Day: Menton in February…

The lovely town of Menton, at the border between France and Italy, is one of the hotspots of the Riviera in February, thanks to the Fête du Citron festival for lemons and oranges (which explains the logo of this blog). I’ll try to go and visit it, for the first time ever, next week before I travel to Asia for some work so watch this space – but in the meantime, this beautiful town has a huge amount to offer, between its great microclimate, the colourful houses, the Cocteau museum and simply the great vibes you can feel just from walking through the streets of the old town! The cliff in this photo marks the border with Italy by the way… Go and explore the delights of the city with the info contained in my article!

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Picture of the Day: Ile Saint Honorat

Despite appearances, this bucolic scene of vineyards and a monastery is not taken in the middle of the Provençal countryside but on an island off the coast of Cannes. Ile Saint Honorat, one of the two Lérins islands, has been populated by a community of Cistercian monks for hundreds of years and is well worth a day trip on a sunny day. Check out my detailed article to find out more and plan your visit of this stunning and surprising destination!

Restaurant review: Valentin, Monaco, a hidden gem in the heart of Monte-Carlo

A great place with a true heart and soul to unwind after work or have a quick business lunch, hidden away in the centre of Monte-Carlo

It’s not easy to find good, reasonably-priced places to go out after work in Monaco, especially in the Monte-Carlo neighbourhood where plenty of offices are located, unless you are willing to break the bank! But I recently discovered Valentin, a wine bar and restaurant and a little gem of a place hidden in the heart of Monte Carlo, just behind the Allées Lumière bus stop at the back of the mini shopping centre opposite the tourist office.

Opened in 2012 by Pier and Simona, a couple of passionate Italian restaurateurs who used to run a hotel-restaurant in the village of Triora just across the border in Liguria, it’s a great place for a quick and reasonable lunch if you are working in Monaco, with a new “plat du jour” every day. Continue reading