Lavender in Provence

Provence is renowned for its beauty. One of the most notable features of this lovely southern region is its dense population of the lavender plant.

lavender fields provence

Provence is a region in the south of France that runs along the Mediterranean coast from the Camargue to the Italian border. The Northern part stretches along the Rhone Valley to the town of Orange.

It corresponds roughly with the administrative PACA region, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Filled with Roman ruins and adorned with a delightfully arid climate and an abundance of vineyards, this region of France is renowned for its beauty.

One of the most notable features of this lovely southern region is its dense population of the lavender plant. This flower grows in abundance in this region and has become almost impossible to disassociate with it.

The flower tends to bloom around the summer solstice until harvest time, which is generally around July to August. While it varies from year to year, in most cases mid-June to mid-August is the best time to travel.

History of lavender

This unique and intriguing flower has been in documented use for around 2500 years. Ancient Egyptians used lavender to mummify bodies and as a perfume base, while the Romans used the oils for cooking and bathing. They also used it to perfume soaps, and to vaporize it in the air. In France, “Les Lavandières” were female workers who washed clothes. The women washed clothes with lavender scented soap. It is also great to add scent to drawers and as a perfume.

Provence lavender varieties

There are mainly 3 varieties of lavender that grow in France: fine lavender (also true lavender or officinal: Lavandula angustifolia), lavender aspic (Lavandula latifolia, doesn’t grow very much in Provence, but rather at the foot of the Cevennes), and the lavandin which is a hybrid of the previous 2 (Lavandula × intermedia). Fine lavender likes altitude, it only grows between 600 and 1500m, and the higher it is, the better it is. Its flowering will be a little later than the lavandin, and may be longer with the effect of altitude. Lavandin is more resistant and offers better yield, it grows everywhere including the lower altitude area’s where it will bloom earlier in the season.

Common uses of lavender

The lavender flower has many uses. The most common use is as an essential oil. A lavender scented pillow spray is a good example of the oil.

The flower also has strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It can help the body to remove free radicals and is highly useful as a part of your skin care regimen. It also helps to reduce the itching from bites and stings.

Because of its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, this flower can be a great treatment for acne. Applying oil to the skin can help to prevent acne and clear up imperfections.

In addition, the flower is also commonly used in a bouquet as decoration for the home. A bunch of it placed in a vase can make a simple but inviting centerpiece; some tie bunches of the flower and eucalyptus around the shower head to diffuse the scent throughout the bathroom.

Lavender can also be used as an effective natural insect repellent. Most flying insects are repelled by the flower. Try placing it around windows and door openings to prevent insects from flying in. Hanging it dried in little satchels inside closets repel moths, and rubbing it on the skin can repel insects from your person as well.

Where can you see lavender fields?

The Luberon

There are several great regions in southern France to enjoy this flower. One of the most famous is the Luberon. The Luberon is one of the most renowned areas in the South of France. It has charming and authentic villages, beauty is everywhere. Travelers are often delighted to find the cobbled roads and breathtaking views of the perched French villages. In the Luberon, one can find striking canyon faces and lush green forests. If you are looking for a truly authentic French experience, the Luberon is one of the best areas to explore.

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

The Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is another French department to visit and to appreciate its natural beauty. This department is a popular tourist destination due to its high amount of sunshine, vast amounts of preserved nature, and gorgeous views from picturesque landscapes. The Alpes-de-Haute-Provence has charming old cities, natural thermal baths, and a rich history.

Mont Ventoux

Another popular region to find lavender fields in the South of France is the Mount Ventoux area. This region has the highest mountain peak at around 1912 meters. At the top of the mountain, visitors can see as far as the Alps and the Mediterranean. Lavender fields are scattered around the plateau of the mountain, creating a pleasant atmosphere for visitors.

Provence Tourism has created an interactive map with a lavender route. This circuit is 120 km long and will cover a lavender farm, two distilleries, and the lavender museum. It will take about 100 minutes to complete the route. This does not include visit times for different stops.

If you don’t have a car, you can still visit the fields. There are a lot of good options with private tours as well as group tours. There are also multi-day walking ttours that cover the lavender fields.

When is the lavender flowering period?

This is the question that all people who are planning a stay in Provence ask, and to which nobody can answer precisely in advance. There are 2 factors to be taken into consideration: the climatic conditions during the months preceding the flowering, and the place envisaged for the stay. Flowering begins generally in early June, in the Rhone Valley (Tricastin, Venaissin Comtat, Lower Luberon) and the Côte d’Azur. In these areas, the vast majority of fields will be cut well before the beginning of August. In Haute Provence (Baronnies Provençales, Haut Verdon, Plateaux d’Albion and Valensole), you can see flowered fields from late June until mid-August, even a little later.

Museums and festivals

If you or your group would like some background information on the rich history of this flower you can visit La Musée de la Lavande located in the village of Cabrieres d’Avignon. This museum offers a lot of interesting information about the industry, as well as the agricultural processes behind it.

There are many festivals to explore during the summer as well. Most of them are one-day events. There will be plenty of oils, cosmetics, soaps, and foods to try, all infused with the purple flower as the centerpiece. At many events, there will be local music and crafts exhibitions. The capital of lavender, Ferrassières, offers since 1996 a yearly lavender festival. This festival takes place in early July. One of the most famous festivals is held at the town of Valensol on the third Sunday of July, and Sault hosts another on August 15th. The spa town of Digne-les-Bains has a whole five-day event in early August.

Distilleries and Farms

There are plenty of farms and distilleries that are quite fun to visit. The Agnels distillery in the Luberon is an organic farm and distillery in the village of Apt. It is open all year-round and they produce their own organic essential oils. Aroma’plantes in Sault is another beautiful organic farm that is open to visitors all year and offers a free tour. They mostly create oils for medicinal and home remedy purposes. The whimsically-titled Ho! Bouquet de Lavande farm is open from the end of April until the end of October. This farm has its own unique line of well-made products available for purchase. La Ferme de Gerbaud is located in the town of Lourmarin in the south of the Luberon. This farm also offers guided tours and is a good option for tourists. The Distillerie Les Coulets in Apt is an interesting place to learn about the distillation process using traditional old-style fire methods. Watching the process is beautiful and gives the visitor a unique insight into the craft of its industry. It is open year-round for the sale of their products. Distillery visits are available in July and August for free.

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