On the roads and in backyards all over the South, you can hear the distinct “chirp” of the unofficial mascot of Provence – the cicada (le cigale). And as anyone will tell you, it’s not officially summer in the South of France until that first tsi tsi tsi rings clearly through the air. And foolish be the person who says otherwise… as we learned two weekends ago at a BBQ as one hapless guest claimed to have already heard our small green friends chirping their hearts out. Mais no no no was the collective response… pas encore pas encore (not yet).
Which brings me to chat a bit about the current mood of the South… which actually might be better described as the “unmood”. I welcome you to come & discover what happens when an already slow region slows down even more. In other words, summer in Provence is quite near paradise… that is if your idea of paradise just happens to be doing nothing but laying on the beach, sipping rosé, languishing over hours-long lunches or perhaps a combo of all three.
For us working stiffs (I’m dressing in all-white cotton by this point btw), it’s hard to imagine that anything gets done around here during the summer. When the temperature climbs above 26°C, it seems everyone and their maman heads to the beach. Activity in the centreville is “thinning” and the folks y mou doeet on the street look like they’re one or two hours away from a dip in the sea. Think bright colors, flip-flops, and a big jump in sales of everything “bronzy”.
Of course my vacation is just around the corner and I have big plans for enjoying these summer months myself. Here are a few of the things I’m looking forward to which can also make decent suggestions for your summer travels to Provence:
2. Taking a ferry to the Isle de Porquerolles and spending the day on the Plage d’Argent.
3. Picnicking along the sea.
4. Attending a lavender festival, dates available from Routes de Lavande.
5. Spending the afternoon on Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence… enjoying a glass of wine and doing absolutely nothing.
6. Self-guided wine tours.
7. Taking the train from Marseille to Nice for the fantastic scenery – or cutting it short and lunching in Antibes.
8. Eating a heaping bowl of bouillabaisse, or the fresh catch of the day, at the Vieux Port in Marseille.
9. Markets, markets, markets.
10. Splurging and getting a “thalasso” treatment at Hotel Ile Rousse in Bandol.
11. Taking in the sea views at hilltop villages like Bormes-les-Mimosas & Gassin.
12. Taking a tour of the Puyricard chocolate factory (not very summery but hey, it’s chocolate).
13. Escaping the heat in the “Tivoli of Provence”, Barjols.
14. Trekking along the sea on any of the many “self-guided” walks.
15. Visiting the “garden of the Mediterranean” at Domaine du Rayol.
16. The beach, the beach, the beach.
And don’t forget, one of the greatest pleasures of summer in Provence is the joy of “farniente”…. doing nothing at all.
– If you’d like to hear what summer sounds like in Provence, click over for this YouTube slideshow.