The U.S. may be ready to see cicadas gone, but this French village has a statue, a song and ceramics in their honor

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.

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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.

Continue reading “The U.S. may be ready to see cicadas gone, but this French village has a statue, a song and ceramics in their honor”

10 Amazing Places To Visit In The South Of France – Hand Luggage Only

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.

1.) Avignon

Places To Visit In The South Of France (15)

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”

Exploring France through its famous wine regions

There’s a famous quote by Rumi that best describes the importance of a fine wine, “Either give me more wine or leave me alone”

Only a true connoisseur of wine would connect to this saying and only a true lover of wine would know the real worth of a French wine. France, besides being famous for its rich culture, age-old traditions and grand architecture, the country is globally renowned for its wine. The world swears by French wines and every region here produces its own beverage. So let’s take a trip to some famous French vineyards that will tell you everything to plan your vineyard trip in France.

Wine of Provence

Your French vineyard tour won’t be complete without tasting the wine of Provence. This breathtaking French region is just a few hours drive from Nice and is known for producing some fantastic wines. This entire territory is dotted with vineyards and one can also enjoy wine tasting experiences here. The warm climate and the region’s proximity to the sea makes it a perfect place for grapes plantation. Syrah, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Cinsault and Clairette are some of the best wine brands here.

Wine of Loire ValleyCredit: iStock

Wine of Loire Valley

Loire Valley is another famous wine producing region in France. Some of the popular vineyards here are located in Anjou-Saumur, Touraine, The Pays Nantais and Central Vineyards. Loire Valley wines are light and that’s what makes them so popular. One can choose from a stunning selection of red wines, white wines and sweet roses.

Wine of Burgundy Credit: iStock

Wine of Burgundy

Burgundy is a historical French territory famous for its vineyard regions. The wine regions of Burgundy include Côte de Nuits, Châblis, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais, to name a few. The wine produced in this region is considered complex, which makes it very expensive. The region also produces some amazing white wines made from Chardonnay, and red wines made from Pinot Noir.

Wine of Bordeaux Credit: iStock

Wine of Bordeaux

A wine lover’s list of favorite wines won’t be complete without mentioning Bordeaux wine. Counted among the most famous and also the largest wine regions in France, Bordeaux is the world capital of wine! Situated in Southern France along the sea, the wine produced here tastes unique as it comes mixed with mineral qualities.

Rhone Valley wineCredit: iStock

Rhone Valley wine

Another popular wine region in France is the Rhone Valley in Southeastern France. The region is spread across the meandering Rhone River and the wines produced here are the most expensive one. The Rhone Valley wine is known as Côtes du Rhône wine and some of the prominent products here include Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Viognier.

Source: Exploring France through its famous wine regions

A Look at the Most Beautiful Villages in France

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.

Looking for more virtual vacations? Check out some of our favorite tiny French beach towns for getting away from the crowds.

Sources: Frenchly; France24

9 Classic Dishes from Provence to Try this Summer – Frenchly

From St. Tropez to Marseille, these are the dishes that will definitely make your Instagram followers jealous.

1. Ratatouille

No, it’s not just a cute animated childrens movie about — of all things — a rat who likes to cook. It’s actually a vegetable stew originally made by peasants in the South of France (particularly in Nice) when they didn’t want to waste a bunch of random ingredients. Ratatouille is tomato based, with zucchini, eggplant, onions, and a variety of spices, and it is slow cooked until the vegetables gain a smooth, creamy texture.

2. Socca

Like many of these dishes, socca is an example of Provence’s Mediterranean influences, both Italian and North African. Socca is a thin, unleavened pancake made from chickpea flour typically baked in a tinned copper plate as a street food in Marseille or Nice.

3. Soupe au Pistou

This vegetable and bean soup is similar to the Italian minestrone, but a bit tapered down, designed to highlight the vegetables of the season. White beans, tomatoes, onions, green beans, squash, and pasta are common ingredients. And the coup de grâce is the spoonful of pistou, pesto made without pine nuts, plopped right on top for you to stir in. Continue reading “9 Classic Dishes from Provence to Try this Summer – Frenchly”

10 Top-Rated Rosé Wines, From Provence to Your Couch

Spring has sprung and that means it’s time for rosé all day. Here are our picks for choice bottles from the French region that started it all, Provence.

Rosé season is upon us. The best way to transition into warmer weather is with a bottle from Provence, the French region that started the pink-wine craze.

Delightfully fruity, yet impeccably honed by crisp acidity (and sometimes tangy minerality), rosés from Provence are often considered the top in their category. While usually made from a mix of red grapes—the roster can include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre—some bottlings can even include the white grape Vermentino, or Rolle, as it’s called locally.

Here are some of the top-scoring Provence rosés from across the region that are hitting shelves and online shops. Scoop them up and enjoy a bit of Provençal sunshine in a bottle.

Château Vignelaure 2019 Rosé (Coteau d’Aix-en-Provence); $22, 93 points. Produced from organic grapes, this ripe wine is well structured and richly elegant. It has depth and concentration as well as a touch of tannins from the Cabernet and Syrah in the blend. The wine is just ready to drink, although it will be better from late 2020. Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. Editors’ Choice. –Roger Voss Continue reading “10 Top-Rated Rosé Wines, From Provence to Your Couch”