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HomeEarthOn French Riviera hillsides, the once-dominant Menton lemon gets squeezed by development

On French Riviera hillsides, the once-dominant Menton lemon gets squeezed by development

On French Riviera hillsides, the once-dominant Menton lemon gets squeezed by development

On French Riviera hillsides, the once-dominant Menton lemon gets squeezed by development

 

MENTON, France (AP) — When the French Riviera town of Menton prepares to host its lemon festival each year, it assembles more than 140 tons of citrus to build the ornate floats and showy park displays that attract thousands to the Fete du Citron. But none of it is the actual Menton lemon, a prized variety whose fans included King Louis XIV, who enjoyed drinking its juice and bathing in its essential oils.

 

They’re too precious — and there aren’t enough of them, either.

 

“Honestly, we prefer that people taste our lemons rather than look at them on display,” said Marine Krenc, an events manager for Menton’s tourism office.

A sculpture of Nike the Greek god of victory made with lemons is displayed during the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, France, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
A sculpture of Nike the Greek god of victory made with lemons is displayed during the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, France, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

 
Tourists pose for pictures in front of a sculpture made of lemons during the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, France, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
Tourists pose for pictures in front of a sculpture made of lemons during the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, France, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
A carnival worker dressed as a lemon dances in the street during the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, France, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
A carnival worker dressed as a lemon dances in the street during the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, France, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 

 

 

A visitor examines a sculpture made of lemons during the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, France, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
A visitor examines a sculpture made of lemons during the 90th edition of the Lemon Festival in Menton, France, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

 

 

Menton was once a leading lemon-growing region in Europe, with a global reputation and exports as far as the United States and Russia in the 18th century. But that was before the French Revolution led to cancellation of laws that protected Menton from competition from other lemon-growing regions, and before the Riviera’s rise as a playground for tourists and the wealthy led to hotels and villas steadily displacing orchards and farmland.

These days, only 56 small producers still grow the high-end lemons, and some worry that a warming climate will add to their challenges in coming years.

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