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.
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!
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!
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!
I recently got up early on a beautiful Saturday morning just before heading to Genoa in Italy for the weekend to go for a 5km run on the coastal path just west of Monaco, following the Mediterranean from Plage Marquet in Cap d’Ail to the magical Mala Beach: this stunning view is just an example of what you can see on this trail which is perfect both for walking and for running, perched between the mountain and the sea with stunning Belle Epoque villas – for more information, check out this article!
Forget the bling-fest that is normally associated with the French Riviera. I much prefer the down to earth way of life that has made this area thrive from generation to generation… And what better way to discover this than by walking through a typical market where the locals buy fresh produce that ensures that the best products end up on their dinner tables? This weekend I visited Menton and had a lovely walk through the local market, a great way to get a feel of the real French Riviera!
This rather bizarre lunar landscape caused by both sea and wind erosion can be observed at the tip of Cap Martin, between Monaco and Menton. On a stormy day, the views looking west towards Tête de Chien and Cap Ferrat in the distance are particularly stunning! The walk from Monaco to Menton via the tip of Cap Ferrat takes around 3 hours along the Sentier des Douaniers and is a great breath of fresh air, just make sure that you bring plenty of sun cream and water in the summer – find out more in this article.
Place Massena in Nice early on a January morning, bathed in the winter sunshine… The main square of Nice, located just 2 minutes from the Promenade des Anglais, is named after André Massena, duke of Rivoli, a Napoleonic general born in the city in 1758 when it was still part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Built over the mouth of the Paillon river on the ancient location of the “Pont Neuf”, it achieved its current look in 2007 when it was pedestrianised for the construction of the Nice tram line and is now the major hub of the city and where most major events take place, such as the Carnival in a couple of weeks. Some people dislike the modern sculptures (which are undoubtedly a hub for bird droppings!) but I personally like the cleaner appearance of the current square and feel that it really represents the vibes of this unique city. Read more about Nice in the essential guide of Nice in a nutshell.
Every summer all across the French Riviera coastline, the night sky is lit up by hundreds of spectacular colours and festive bangs to celebrate the balmy weather and the holiday season. The Principality of Monaco is no exception, since pretty much every evening around midnight, a short fireworks display is launched during the Sporting Club summer festival after each concert for the benefit of the viewing public who have paid for the privilege.
But in terms of fireworks, the centrepiece remains the Monaco International Fireworks Competition (officially the “Concours international de feux d’artifice pyromélodiques de Monaco”) which blocks off the whole town for 20 minutes of magic set to synchronised (the organisers hope!) music, highlighting the talents of fireworks artists from all around the world – obviously everything is free!
When enjoying the spectacular landing at Nice airport and approaching from the west, you are bound to notice the two small islands off the coast of Cannes, Ile Sainte Marguerite and Ile Saint Honorat, known collectively as the Iles de Lérins (along with two much smaller and uninhabited islands). Both car free islands offer a huge contrast to the hustle and bustle and frenetic pace of the French Riviera and in this article, I will focus on the smaller and less visited of the two, Ile Saint Honorat. Famed for its historical and still functioning medieval abbey run by Cistercian monks and for the special wines and liqueurs that they produce locally, this small island of just 40 hectares is full of bucolic charm and splendid views and can be visited all year round. Carry on reading this article to experience a total culture shock, just 25 minutes from the port of Cannes and for full photos of my visit, please visit the Ile Saint Honorat album on the French Riviera Blog Facebook page.