Got Lemons? | God's World News
Got Lemons?
News Shorts
Posted: April 02, 2024
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    Tourists pose for pictures in front of a sculpture made of lemons during the 90th Lemon Festival in Menton, France. (AP/Daniel Cole)
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    A visitor tastes a lemon during a guided tour at the la Casetta garden in Menton, France (AP/Daniel Cole)
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    Sixth-generation lemon farmer Pierre Ciabaud collects lemons at his farm in Menton, France. (AP/Daniel Cole)
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Ready? Set? LEMON FEST!

People in Menton, France, host a lemon festival each year. And that’s a big job. In February, they gathered more than 140 tons of citrus. Why? For building carnival floats and showy park displays. Thousands of people flock to the festival each year.

But something is missing. Something big. It’s the fruit the festival is all about—the Menton lemon.

That prized lemon type is too precious to build decorations from. More than 300 years ago, French King Louis XIV enjoyed drinking its juice. He also loved Menton lemon oil baths. Now the lemon is so rare that the festival uses average lemons from other countries for decorations instead. The people of Menton prefer to save their treasured lemons for eating.

Menton was once a leading lemon-growing region in Europe. It was known all over the globe. Now other lemon-growing spots compete with Menton. More tourists flock to the French Riviera, where Menton is located. Hotels and villas stand where orchards once grew.

Menton lemons have a unique flavor. They’re not quite bitter and not quite sweet. Their zest smells like the lemongrass plant. They’re bigger than most lemons, with a thicker skin.

Pierre Ciabaud’s family has farmed Menton lemons for six generations. He tends the family’s grove on one of the last remaining lemon hills.

“The valleys of Menton used to be covered with lemon groves. There were trees everywhere,” he says. Now? “All you see are buildings.”

He recalls his father collecting many lemons. But the region produces a much smaller harvest now.

“A young person today would not be able to live from lemon farming,” Mr. Ciabaud says. To support his family, he ran a hardware and appliance store.

Still, the lemon festival goes on. It has been held since 1935.

What would you build out of tons of lemons?

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. — John 15:5