In France, the insects are associated with summer and sun.
By Rick Noack
LE BEAUSSET, France — The five-foot blue iron cicada dangles upside-down from a metal branch, bulging eyes staring at the sky. It appears ready to launch itself at any moment at cars moving through the traffic circle below.
The $34,000 statue was inaugurated last year as a proud defense of the seasonal insect, after complaints from tourists who had dared to ask if the din emanating from the trees could be stopped with an application of insecticide.
The chorus of cicadas, or “cigales,” as they are called here, is an annual and generally beloved phenomenon in southern France, especially in the region of Provence. And the village of Le Beausset, with a population of about 10,000 people and an unknown number of cicadas, is the self-proclaimed cicada capital.
Across the region, visitors can buy cicada postcards and cicada tablecloths and ceramic cicadas in more than three dozen colors. For the biggest fans, shops in Le Beausset’s neighboring town of Le Castellet sell versions that release their deafening sounds whenever anyone comes close.
And so as residents of Le Beausset and across France’s south await the annual chirping of the insects — expected later this month — many here have watched reaction to the U.S. “zombie cicada invasion” with a mix of bewilderment and surprise.
They understand that the cicada species dominant in southern France emerge in lower density than the 17-year periodical cicadas that have roiled the East Coast this summer. But few here would think of the insect as an edible snack. Or something worthy of 911 noise complaints.
I’m a huge fan of France and was ecstatic to hear the reopening news. Naturally, I hopped on one of the first flights to Paris (CDG) that arrived just hours after the new regulations went into effect.
Here, I’ll give you a look at my experience entering France under the new coronavirus entry restrictions.
I’ll start with a quick overview of what Americans need to bring for entry to France and then discuss my travel experience, from checking in at New York-JFK to clearing customs at Paris (CDG).
Let’s get started!
Overview of France’s entry requirements (and what to bring)
Today, France implemented a “stoplight” system for tourists entering the country. There are three different colors: green, orange and red. Those coming from green countries can enter without restriction if vaccinated, while those in red countries are mostly barred from entry except for essential purposes.
Orange is the largest category and contains most of the countries outside of the Schengen area. This includes the U.S., U.K., Canada and Mexico, among others.
Entry requirements are very straightforward. According to the French Government (PDF link), vaccinated Americans (and vaccinated travelers from other orange countries) can enter France with the following:
Proof of your vaccination — the following vaccines are accepted:
Note that you must wait a set amount of time after your COVID-19 vaccine in order to enter France. The wait time depends on which vaccine you received:
Two weeks after the second injection for two injection vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca)
Four weeks after the injection for single injection vaccines (Johnson & Johnson)
Unvaccinated persons coming from orange countries are not allowed entry to France unless he or she has a “compelling reason” for their visit or is a French citizen, EU national or holds one of a handful of French visas.
Additionally, unvaccinated travelers are subject to tougher restrictions:
Proof of a negative COVID test, either:
PCR within 72 hours of boarding
Antigen within 48 hours of boarding
Antigen test on arrival
Mandatory seven-day self-quarantine
In other words: if you’re coming from an orange country, you can only visit for tourism if you’re fully vaccinated.
Many COVID-19 restrictions in France have been eased alongside the border reopening. That said, there are still some restrictions in place that you should be aware of if you plan to visit France immediately.
There is an 11 p.m. curfew, with a fine for breaking it
Indoor dining at cafés and restaurants around the country have resumed indoor dining at 50% capacity, with a maximum of six people allowed per table
Outdoor dining has resumed at full capacity
Museums are open, albeit with capacity restrictions
Many of these restrictions are set to be lifted at the end of the month. So if you’re a night owl, consider pushing your trip back a few weeks [ . . . ]
In the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the Antony Private Hospital south of Paris, no bed stays free for long and medics wonder when their workload will finally peak.
As one recovered elderly patient is being wheeled out of the ward, smiling weakly, boss Jean-Pierre Deyme is on the phone arranging the next arrival and calling out instructions to staff.
Louisa Pinto, a nurse of nearly 20 years’ experience, gestures to the vacated room where a cleaner is already at work, scrubbing down the mattress for the next arrival.
“The bed won’t even have time to cool down,” she says as the patient monitoring system beeps constantly in the background.
For now, everything is stable in the 20-odd beds around her where COVID-19 victims lie inanimate, in a silent battle with the virus.
Paris is going through a third wave of the pandemic which risks putting even more strain on saturated hospitals than the first wave in March and April last year.
“With what’s coming in April, it’s going to be very complicated,” says Pinto, a mother of three who hasn’t had a holiday since last summer and like other staff will be cancelling a planned break this month [ . . . ]
Doesn’t matter if you’ve been before or if you’re a first-timer – the South of France is one place that’s guaranteed to be an easy yes when it comes to deciding where to holiday. The beautiful beaches, amazing food and plethora of cute little French villages to pop into only serve to add more to the appeal of this sunny part of France (or indeed, to the envy of your friends visiting these beautiful French towns and cities).
So it’s decided! You definitely want to visit the South of France this summer. Now that we can take that for granted – the next question is, where to visit. It’s not like you can just visit ‘The South of France” – that’s like attempting to booking plane tickets to “Asia” – you need to be a tad more specific!
To help you along your merry way, here are 10 places you need to visit in the South of France.
Avignon is a city steeped in rich religious history and with the requisite stunning architecture that you’d come to expect from such a place. There was a time in the middle ages when this charming city was the centre of western Christendom.
No fewer than six papal conclaves were held in the breathtaking (UNESCO World Heritage) Palace of the Popes in the 14th century, and this building still has fascinating little relics from this time, such as the invaluable gothic frescoes on the walls of the papal apartments.
Essentially, if you want a city break that’s filled with amazing sights to see and perhaps aren’t too bothered by catching some rays on the beach, then Avignon is perfect for you!
Oh, almost forgot to add – the magnificent ruins of Pont Saint-Bénézet (also known as the Pont d’Avignon) pokes out across the Rhône and is also a UNESCO World Heritage sight worth seeing in the city. Shift down a gear and browse the arty walled town, take a cruise on the river, and see if you can come for the Theatre Festival in July when the city becomes one giant stage. Continue reading “10 Amazing Places To Visit In The South Of France – Hand Luggage Only”→
It was so cool to run into this gypsy jazz quartet performing at Place aux Herbes, in Uzès last July. In this video recorded from my iPhone, the Uzès guys (never caught their name so let’s call them The Uzèsniacs ) are masterfully strumming “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” in that beautiful jazz manouche style.
Apologies -my cell battery sadly dies in the middle of a great guitar solo. Mert!
“I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” is an American jazz standard attributed to the Tin Pan Alley team of Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics) in 1928. Fats Waller and Una Mae Carlisle recorded my favorite version of the song, and there are jazz scholars who maintain that it was actually Waller who wrote the song and sold it to McHugh and Fields for $500. Mert, encore!
The song “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” is also famously featured in the classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938) with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. The Uzèsniacs probably learned the song from this wonderful 1936 version from Django Reinhardt et le Quintette du Hot Club de France ( listen below)
Shakespeare and Company has weathered many storms, but the pandemic has been the most devastating of them all.
For over a century the legendary bookstore Shakespeare and Company has beamed out from the Left Bank of Paris like a lighthouse of literature.
The former 16th-century monastery on Rue de la Bûcherie, and its previous site not far away at 12 Rue de l’Odéon, has been a home away from home for the Lost Generation in the 1920s and the Beatnik generation in the 1950s, a publisher and reading resource for the likes of James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, and shelter for the estimated 30,000 “tumbleweeds”—young writers and enthusiasts allowed to stay for free—over the years.
But the economic disaster wrought by the coronavirus pandemic has hit independent bookstores in France, including this timeless Anglophone institution, hard. Deemed “non-essential” by the government even during the country’s second lockdown, they were forced to close to in-person customers, while commerce for online behemoths like Amazon has soared. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo herself warned city-goers: “Don’t buy on Amazon. Amazon is the death of our bookshops and our neighborhood life.”