Citronnier Menton Alpes Maritimes SdoigCitronnier Menton Alpes Maritimes Sdoig
©Citronnier Menton Alpes Maritimes Sdoig

Menton lemon every which way: our top pick of tangy specialities

Every winter, the Fête du Citron lemon fair lights up the town of Menton, the birthplace of this little citrus fruit with a big reputation. Here’s our top pick of local goodies paying tribute to the mythical Menton lemon. Bon appétit!


A dash of lemon in your dishes – or at aperitif time!

Lemon adds that perfect little touch of acidity needed to balance a dish or simply refresh it. In Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the Citron de Menton (Menton lemon) is used to create tangy condiments the promise to jazz up your plate and tickle your tastebuds. Used in association with olive oil, Menton lemon adds powerful aromas and tastes to this must-have South of France ingredient. Manufactured by several Menton producers, olive oil flavoured with Menton lemon is the perfect partner to a mixed salad, ceviche or even a risotto. Top chefs use it to enhance their creations too: Michelin-starred Chef Mauro Colagreco collaborated with the Huilerie Saint-Michel to create a unique and particularly refined olive oil flavoured with Menton lemon. If you’re seeking an even tangier seasoning, opt for a vinegar perfumed with Menton lemon – another great ally to have in the kitchen. Infused in white wine vinegar, the lemon zests add a delicate touch of acidity, producing a table vinegar that marries to perfection with salads, fish and shellfish alike. Always ready and willing to spice up your dishes and sauces, you’ll also find Menton lemon in mustard and pistou blends: Au Pays du Citron in Menton specializes in products made with Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’s favourite citrus fruit. Don’t miss a visit to Maison Gannac too. These passionate growers also concoct culinary preparations made with Menton lemons for a vitamin-packed aperitif, including tapenade, terrine and even crisps. Yum!

Drinks with or without alcohol!

Speaking of aperitifs, have you ever tried lemon beer? Not just with lemon added though – a craft beer that is actually macerated with dried organic Menton lemon rinds. The white beerby Maison Gannac, Lemon Dreel – a refreshing and expressive lager courtesy of the Brasserie Artisanale de Nice – and sweet, slightly biscuity Mentounasc, are must-tries. If beer isn’t your thing but you enjoy a glass of wine, we have good news for you: Menton lemon wine is also a local speciality. This very-aromatic elixir is obtained by infusing lemons in Provence white wine, with a dash of sugar and spice. For an even more original and punchy drink, Maison Gannac has perfected a lemon and ginger wine. Tip: it’s ideal for making a Spritz! And what about liqueurs? Located on the border with Italy, Menton has inherited a delicious neighbouring artisan speciality: limoncello. To make it, Menton lemon zests are infused in organic agricultural alcohol. Sweet, flavourful and preferably served chilled, limoncello pairs beautifully with desserts and sorbets, but you can also enjoy it on its own as a “digestif” drink to wind up your meal on a refreshing, zesty note. N.B. Maison Gannac’s limoncello won a silver medal at the “Concours Général Agricole”, the yearly agricultural show in Paris. If soft drinks are more your jive, we definitely recommend sampling the comforting and thirst-quenching Menton lemon cordial or invigorating lemonade. Both are delicious served as a aperitif drink or with an afternoon snack or meal. Fresh and authentic.

Irresistible lemon sweet treats

Shall we move on to dessert? Menton lemon tart is an absolute must-do local delicacy. Tangy and delicious, it is fabulous au natural without meringue, or, of course, generously daubed with meringue, then lightly browned with a kitchen blowtorch… Each to their own! To sample a lemon tart, hop over to Lilian Bonnefoi in Antibes, or the Pâtisserie Canet in Nice. And if you’re not hungry enough to eat a whole dessert but never say no to a bonbon, you’ll find Menton lemon in a plethora of local candies: artisan lollipops, marshmallow, nougat, sour candy, toffee or fruit jellies. Push open the door to Au Pays du Citron or Maison Gannac – you’ll find something there for every sweet tooth. If you’re a jam and marmalade fan, you’ll of course find traditionally-made Menton lemon marmalade here too. The fruit is cooked gently to procure an inimitable taste. Simply spread it on your breakfast baguette for a sweet and vitamin-packed start to the day. If you want to stock up, Au Pays du Citron and Maison Gannac are your friends, or you can push open the door to Maison Herbin, where you’ll find a great choice of Menton lemon jams with lavender, thyme, ginger, rosemary and even eucalyptus!

La Maison Gannac et les citrons de Menton
La Maison Gannac et les citrons de Menton
La Maison Gannac et les citrons de Menton

Maison Gannac

Maison Gannac’s passion for lemons is a family legacy. The father, Laurent Gannac, fell in love with Menton on a placement during his agronomy, horticulture and landscaping studies. He rapidly set up home on the slopes of the Menton area in the Nineties, where he developed a business as a landscape and nursery gardener. He decided to plant lemon trees on the land to breathe new life into this exceptional terroir and redefine the typical landscapes of Menton. At the time, Laurent Gannac was the area’s youngest citrus grower. Today, he is the oldest and Maison Gannac is the region’s leading Menton lemon producer. His son, Adrien Gannac, has also devoted himself to the iconic Menton lemon alongside his father and the family farm has now been awarded the organic label.

“Maison Gannac is the successful fusion of our two energies, each vital to the other” – Laurent Gannac

The Maison Gannac orchards produce 5 lemon varieties benefiting from the “Citron de Menton” appellation: Santa Teresa, Adamo, Eureka, Cerza and SRA 625, which is the historic local variety. But how do you actually recognize a bona fide “Citron de Menton”? Of course, it’s hard to tell at a glance, but taste-wise the Menton lemon is very characteristic. To find out more, we put the question to Maison Gannac: the Menton lemon has very juicy flesh, moderate acidity, a high sugar content, very powerful aromas and a unique rind. Its zest is bright, intense and rich in active principles, while its albedo, also referred to as the “zist” (the white part of the rind) is generally very plump and sweet, with little bitterness and a slightly fatty texture that makes it very pleasant to eat fresh. One thing’s for sure – the Menton lemon is good enough to eat!