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Welcome to the city of Italy's air, where lemon reigns supreme.
And if you like this round and yellow citrus fruit, I advise you to visit a lemon grove.
Introducing François, citrus grower in Menton. In its lemon grove, the sunny terraces welcome lemon trees, orange trees, clementine trees, citra trees... We are in the heart of the yellow gold production area, the Lemon of Menton.
The appellation "Lemon of Menton"
To meet the "Lemon of Menton" appellation, citrus fruit must be harvested in 5 communes of the Maritime Alps: Menton, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Sainte-Agnès, Castellar and Gorbio. Fruit trees must be located less than 7 km from the sea and at an altitude of less than 400 m. These conditions are perfectly met by this small corner of the Riviera near the Italian border.
"The weather here is good almost every day and lemon trees bear fruit all year round," says François.
Lemon of Menton at the chefs' table
François is one of a handful of irreducible citrus growers in the region. There are only 3 producers left in Menton. There were 100,000 lemon trees in the last century. There are only 3500 trees left today. Competition from other Mediterranean countries and higher land prices partly explain this drop in production.
"You won't find Menton lemons on supermarket shelves" he says. A good part of its production (about 12 tons per year) is found on the tables of starred chefs.
The lemon of Menton is particularly appreciated for its very pronounced olfactory contents, its very perfumed juice, without bitterness. No wonder Chefs like AlainDucasse or Mauro Colagreco put it in a good place in their recipes.
The Lemon of Menton is organic
Citrus cultivation requires a lot of maintenance. No fertilizers or pesticides are used. Trees must therefore be monitored to prevent disease.
"When bees forage on flowers, they transform the shape of the future lemon. Lemons do not need to be round and calibrated to be accepted in the kitchens of large restaurants" explains François.
When the lemon is ripe, it can remain on the tree until the production is shipped to the customer. This avoids having to store. Harvesting is done by hand to prevent the lemon from falling and getting damaged. All these precautions explain why Menton lemon is a small jewel that must be protected.
Since 1934, the city of Menton has organized the Lemon Festival for three weeks in February. During this celebration, floats parade through the streets of the city, decorated with lemons and oranges. To organize a visit, please contact me.