Gardens of the French Riviera and the Menton Lemon Festival
With elegant gardens, dazzling azure skies and a stunning coastline which inspired a generation of artists, the French Riviera has retained its glamorous allure for over a century. We visit some of the finest gardens that were created here in this sun-kissed playground of the rich including those of Thomas Hanbury and the Rothschilds.
In February, the town of Menton hosts the colourful Lemon Festival, one of the largest and most colourful events on the south coast of France, and a wonderful tonic at the start of the gardening year. Elaborate floats and imaginative sculptures in dazzling shades of orange and yellow are paraded through the Promenade du Soleil in Menton, bringing huge bursts of colour and a lemony zest to the early spring, with a carnival spirit and joie de vivre that is typically French.
In addition to a full day of fruity fun in Menton, we visit some of the finest gardens that were created here in the 19th century. Clos du Peyronnet in Menton is a private garden reflecting the passion of its owner who takes full advantage of the climate to nurture exotic plants, South African bulbs being a speciality. At St Jean Cap Ferrat we visit the exquisite gardens of the Fondation Ephrussi de Rothschild which contain many interesting plants and are surrounded by marvellous sea views.
Just over the border in Italy are the incomparable Hanbury Gardens (La Mortola), arguably the greatest of all the Riviera gardens, in the richness of their collection and the unforgettable power of their presence. We also visit the Jardin Exotique d’Èze, which offers the chance to discover exotic plants and the history and traditions of the village of Èze, along with the Villa Thuret at Cap d’Antibes, Serre de la Madone in Menton, the parks and gardens of Monte Carlo and the tranquil gardens of La Mouissone.
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What to Expect
- Sit back and enjoy all the colour and spectacle of the Menton Lemon Festival
- Cacti of every shape and size in Èze
- The richness of the plant collection at the Hanbury Garden
- Marvellous sea views and opulent surroundings in St Jean Cap Ferrat