Citrus fruits bring flashes of brightness to the winter months, coming into season as the days begin to cool. An enduring symbol of the French Riviera, lemon trees have grown along the sun-drenched coast since the 15th century – in Menton, Roquebrune, Sainte-Agnès and Castellar – adding to the vibrant colour palette of the Côte d’Azur.
Menton in particular has a unique lemon-growing heritage, famous for its bright, elongated lemons which grow abundantly due to the unique microclimate. In February, the sedate parks and squares become a carnival of citrus, filled with outlandish sculptures and elaborate patterns made almost entirely of oranges and lemons. The annual 'Fête du Citron' officially started in 1934 and has flourished into a spectacular event with parades, music, dancing and bursts of confetti.
More than 140 tonnes of fruit goes into the stunning citrus displays, the vibrant sculptures travelling down the Promenade du Soleil during the Golden Fruit Parade. And when the festivities end, the oranges and lemons are turned into marmalades, jams and limoncello.
Local lemons are intensely fragrant when picked at their peak, bathed in the Riviera's golden winter sunshine. Chefs seek them out for both sweet and savoury creations, using both the zest and juice. This elliptical fruit has the power to transform a dish, with its rare ability to both distinguish and harmonise. Lemon juice enhances savoury qualities, brings out the sweetness of other fruits, and brings freshness to any dish.
Mauro Colagreco grows his own lemon trees in a small orchard, and now has the pick of the bunch at The Maybourne Riviera’s lemon grove. Find flashes of citrus throughout the menus of both Mauro Colagreco and Jean-Georges Vongerichten and discover a true local flavour.