The humming is getting louder and the wonderful scent of the Provence lavender intense. I’m standing in the middle of a lavender field, my first time that I see lavender in its full glory and I’m deeply impressed. The colors, the scent and the sound of the bees and bumblebees produce. The lavender season in the Provence is nearly over but I was lucky and grateful to still manage to marvel at some blooming lavender fields.
When checking the hashtag #lavender on Instagram you will not only find stunning photos of lavender fields but countless people posing in the blue-purplish fields. “I’m not gonna do this”, I said with utter conviction. There are no photos on my blog showing me and I will stick to my maxim. Haha! I saw my first beautiful, blooming lavender field and bang!, there I sat in the middle of it with my fancy dress…
Lavender was used in ancient Egypt for embalming and when people took a bath while it was regarded as weed in Europe. In the Provence lavender became one of the main ingredients for perfume in the 17th century in Grasse. Today, lavender is not only a popular raw material for so many different things, but the lavender fields are also on of the main tourist attractions.
When does lavender blossom, so when is the lavender season in the Provence?
When exactly lavender blossoms, depends on the climate. You only know in spring when the Provence lavender season starts. The warmer it is, the earlier the season starts. In general, you can assume the blossoming starts at the beginning of June and reaches its end at mid of August – depending on the area. I would not recommend, however, to book a year in advance for a mid-August trip. You’ll be on the safe side if you choose between mid June and end of July. At the beginning of August, you might find harvested fields in certain regions. The harvest usually starts when buds have formed but before the flowers have opened. At this stage, the lavender is at its aromatic peak.
Where to see the lavender fields in the Provence?
The Provence is a huge area with numerous lavender regions. Depending on where you go, check the lavender blossom calendar first. I drew a map with the lavender fields and a color code depending on the blossoming of the lavender. This is an indication only but I hope it is useful.
Lavender routes (Routes de la Lavande) lead you through wonderful landscapes, blue-purplish colored fields and picturesque villages. In some of the villages, you’ve got the impression that time stood still.
You will find the most scenic landscapes on the plateau of Valensole. One lavender field lies beautifully embedded next to the other and you can see endless purple fields – flat or over rolling hills. And in between, you might see fields of yellow sunflowers. Paradise for every landscape photographer and warrantor for happiness. Make sure to be there within the lavender season (before July 25th) or you will only see harvested fields.
Northwest of Valensole in the area around Sault, Banon and Ferrassière I was lucky to find some lavender fields not yet harvested while all have been gone in Valensole by that time. From Sault, you’ll find the 4 km lavender nature trail.
North of Sault, in Saint-Auban-sur-l’Ouvèze in the nature park Baronnies Provençales you can try your luck of finding blooming fields until mid of August.
The famous lavender museum is in Coustellet, southwest from Gordes.
My recommendation: If you’ve got a flexible time schedule and are eager to photograph the most beautiful lavender fields, make sure to be in Valensole by mid-July at the latest.
The Provence, by the way, is a famous cycling area. If that’s your kind of fun, you might want to check out this article for great cycling routes in the Provence.
Lavender vs. lavandin?
There is lavender and there is lavandin. Lavender is the real one and its scent is much more intense and the oil is of a higher quality. Lavandin is a hybrid which does not reproduce naturally but is the most frequently cultivated.
Things to make with lavender
If you love the smell of lavender, you will be happy about the variety of products it offers. Little lavender pillows make your body and soul calm and help to be fast asleep. Lavender sachets in your wardrobe make your laundry smell great and they keep moths away, too. Originally, lavender was used as a bath salt – and it still is. Take a bath in lavender oil and you’re supposed to get rid of your muscle soreness. It also helps if you’re restless.
In addition to soaps, oils or sachets lavender is also a famous ingredient in the kitchen: tea, honey, vinegar, salt, jam or butter – the possibilities are endless.
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