Escape to Provence
The lavender fields of Provence draw crowds from around the world and for good reason.
The beauty of the flowers themselves, grown in massive rows that stretch for kilometers, are enough to whip your senses into shape, but then you combine the plant’s wonderful aromatherapy at work, and Provence in July is a perfect prescription for peace and relaxation. Viewing the Lavender is all about escaping the busy, touristy villages, embracing the countryside and the essence of Provence.
My family has been making the short trek to Provence from our base in Nice for the last seven years and it has become a yearly pilgrimage. This outing can be about more than just lavender fields, as the Gorge du Verdon looms along the scenic path, offering a vast array of water sports and other adventurous activities such as hiking and climbing. And let’s not forget the best sport, eating- Fabulous restaurants are tucked away in every small village in Provence, but don’t forget that the French only eat from 12 pm to 2 pm.
Did You Know?
• Lavender starts to bloom from the middle to the end of June until it is harvested, from the end of July to the middle of August. The best time to visit Provence and see the lavender in full boom is mid June to the end of July.
• The best place to see the lavender in Provence is the Plateau de Valensole, between the villages of Valensole and Puimoisson. Another great place to see the lavender is near the village of Sault and the Abbey de Senanque near Gordes.
• One of the most famous lavender spots is in front of the Senanque Abbey near Gordes. It is almost impossible not to get a memorable photo here if you visit early in the morning when the light is right and the crowds are absent.
• To have a rich lavender experience you must be prepared to drive or bike the winding, hilly roads of Provence. The lavender fields are scattered throughout the area, so typically driving or cycling for a few hours or half a day is the norm.
• On most visits you will also see sunflowers near the lavender.
TIP: For the best lavender viewing, visit in mid June, and during the early morning to avoid the crowds and the heat. On the way, stop at a local boulangerie for fresh bread and pastries and locate a local produce stand to pick up some fresh fruit and veggies for a French-style picnic under a shady tree. Learn more on Routes de la Lavande: www.routes-lavande.com