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.
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”→
When it comes to quaint French towns and villages, Cucuron, Roussillon, Lourmarin, Lauris, Gordes, and Apt in the Luberon area of Provence do not disappoint.
The Luberon, part of the Vaucluse region of Provence in the south of France, is known for its historic and even ancient villages. Many are located on mountaintops with expansive views of the forests, fields, vineyards, and farms of the Luberon, and nearby are the famous lavender fields. The quaint villages usually consist of cafes, small town squares, medieval churches, art galleries, boutiques selling locally made products, and restaurants in addition to residents’ homes. Small hotels and bed and breakfasts are also available in each village. Here, we share the best villages to visit, plus recommended restaurants and hotels.
The town center of the village of Cucuron has a vast, rectangular pond with spring-fed water and 200-year-old plane trees towering over it. Cafes, restaurants, and a small hotel dot the square. Every Tuesday morning there’s a food and flea market at the pond, where locals get their produce and necessities. At the end of July is a flea market with antiques, tapestries, rugs, china, bric-a-brac, and artworks. Continue reading “6 Quaint Villages In Provence, France You Must Visit”→
It’s universally known that rural France has some truly lovely small towns and villages. But did you know there’s actually an organization that dictates which of them are the ‘most beautiful’? This France 24 video will give you a mini tour of 3 out of 159 of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
The first is Usson in the Auvergne region, a 16th century fortress and now a charming village with steep roads and stone cottages straight out of a fairytale, made from volcanic rock.
Next, in Cantobre, in the region of Aveyron, a tiny cliffside village is home to only 15 people, and life is centered around the nearby church. Residents take much care and pride in maintaining their homes, including by dangerous cliff-hanging tasks.
The last village presented, the Provençal town of Cotignac, is “built from local stone” in a bit of a different way. The river that ran through it 500 years ago carved a spectacular rock that is the town’s most striking feature, an adventureland for children, with some surprises hidden inside.
For a few years now, the wines of a small pocket of France have been the toast of the sommelier and wine shop owner community. But for most, Jura means very little (and no, we’re not talking about the Scotch whisky). It’s almost as though industry types have been trying to keep the secret, safeguarding a small but delicious supply of funky French wine just for themselves
Jura rests in the north of France, between the exalted vineyards of Burgundy and the Swiss border. Expectedly, it’s a bit chillier here, and there’s a nice mix of clay soils down low and sought-after limestone soils higher up. The “jura” name comes from a Celtic word for forest and there’s even a resident mountain range sporting the name. Continue reading “Jura, the French Wine Region You’ve (Probably) Never Heard of “→
This hike is probably the most popular and most accessible hike in the Calanques region, visiting the two closest inlets to Cassis. The first at Port Pin is relatively easy for non-hikers and families with small children. The second inlet at d’En-Vau is a bit more work with a slippery, rocky trail. Both very beautiful and give you a good taste of the region. This area is also very crowded, so expect full trails and lots of people crammed into the small beaches.Note: In summer, this area is often closed to hikers for fire risk. Check the trail status here the day before your visit. Sometimes they close the trail after a certain number of guests enter the park, so best to go early or visit in early spring or late fall. [ . . . ]