The sun's rays are warming you through the pine trees, a little breeze is blowing so you don't get too hot, there's a nice bottle of rosé tucked between two rocks, the scent of monoi fills the air and girls are frolicking in bikinis – it's almost as if you were here, right? But alas, there's one essential thing missing: THE CICADAS!
Marseille and the South of France without cicadas is quite simply unthinkable. It just doesn't exist. But beware, although cicadas are synonymous with summer and holidaying for some people, they can be perfectly unbearable!
For example, if we go back to the beginning with the girls in bikinis and sun blazing down, do we really need 10 cicadas perched in the pine tree that's kindly giving us some shade? Seriously, ten cicadas - or even two or three – and your day at the beach feels more like a rave party than a day of rest.
Ok, I'm getting a bit carried away, but I'm just getting my own back on a cicada that keeps me awake EVERY summer and who likes to get up at 7.30 in the morning...
Putting aside our differences, we can't deny that cicadas add charm to our beloved Provence. A summer without cicadas would be boring, wouldn't it? And it's all well and good hearing them chirp and decorating our houses with nice plaster copies of them, but do we really know much about our little friends?
First and foremost, why do they sing?
The cicada sings to.... wait for it... attract female cicadas!
In fact, they wear us out all summer long by simply flirting in the trees while we drink the aperitif!
At the end of the day, the South of France is a bit like a giant open-air night club, with hundreds of thousands of male cicadas spending their days trying to make new conquests. It's as if us humans spent summer singing and chatting people up... alright, it's kind of the same thing. In fact, cicadas have quite a bit in common with our 'Marseillais', so I'm starting to appreciate them a bit more – I mean really, we can't blame them simply because they want to find a girlfriend, right?
Another fun fact: male cicadas only sing when it's sunny and hot. You'll never hear them on windy, sunny or overcast days. That's simply because at temperatures below 22°C, their tymbals – kind of open flaps at the stem of the wing – lose their flexibility and make it difficult for the cicada to chirp!
Finally, if we think about it, cicadas have got it all worked out: they sit on a branch and sing all day long in the sunshine, they pick up a couple of girls from time to time and when it's cloudy, they toddle off home and wait until it's sunny again. Jean de La Fontaine's fable really wasn't far from the truth, except that here in Marseille, the cicada would win at the end! Honestly, what do ants do except work all year round and stock up tons of provisions for winter? We have 2 months of winter here and even then, we manage to get to the beach, catch sea urchins, play boules and eat out on terraces! Perhaps cicadas are Parisian after all...
Really, I'm starting to like the little critter that wakes me up every summer morning more and more. An insect that spends its life singing and flirting simply has to be the king of all insects.
Don't worry, we're not going to compile a top ten of the coolest insects but from now on, when you hear a cicada, just think about all this and tell yourself that in the branch overhead, there is simply a male cicada giving it his all to go out with the lady who's been hanging around at the other end of the branch for the last 2 days. A little compassion, please! Can you believe that last year (true story!), a Parisian couple actually went to the local Gendarmerie to file a complaint against cicadas for noise pollution?
If you don't like cicadas, you either have to put up with them, or move. I've decided to put up with them and now I've finished writing this text, I'm feeling rather fond of them. In any case, I like them a lot more than mosquitoes... But that's another story.
Things to do
The Valley of the cicadas
Located between the Mediterranean Sea and the étang de Berre, Camping the Valley of cicadas is the ideal place to spend a holiday in the heart of Provence. Camping extends over 6 acres of oak woodlands and shady pinewoods, offering more than 100 locations in great comfort and 40 mobile homes for…
Well furnished studio with separate entrance on the ground floor of the villa hosts. Ideal location for exploring the Alpilles and Arles. Ground floor: Kitchen / dining area / sleeping area. Bathroom/toilet. Central heating included in rental. Sheets for hire 15€/week. 5mx10m, 1.40m depth pool…