Hilltop medieval villages and sun-soaked seascapes aside, one of the top things to do in Provence is to enjoy all of the beautiful lavender fields. Deep purple and heavenly in smell, enjoying the lavender is easily one of the best things to do in Provence. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best of lavender fields in Provence, as well as travel tips, the best spots to visit, and things to know before planning your trip.
Types of lavender grown in Provence
Though there are several types of lavender in existence, only two types are grown in Provence, which are fine lavender and lavandin. Fine lavender is the ‘true’ lavender which grows naturally in the mediterranean scrub, whereas lavandin is a cross between ‘fine lavender’ and ‘lavender aspic’ which is a wild variation of the plant.
Fine lavender is particularly special because it only grows in Provence. Lavandin can be found all over the world. Lavandin is the most photogenic of the lavender grown in Provence as it is typically brighter in colour and the blooms are fuller.
Best places to see lavender in Provence
The most famous of all of the Provence lavender route fields are those to be found around the town of Valensole. Visitors should note that while there are plenty of pretty towns in Provence, Valensole is definitely not at the top of the list and there is little of interest within the town itself.
With this being said, the lavender fields around the town are easily the best in the entirety of France. Lavandes Angelvin is the best-known of the fields on the Valensole Plateau and it’s here where you’ll find the trees on the lavender horizon which are so often photographed at sunrise. Lavandes Angelvin is on the D6 (one of the main routes through Provence).
Visit Lavandes Angelvin and you’ll soon find that there’s ample parking space as well as a small outdoor stand selling lavender products as well as refreshing beverages. Further along the D6 when heading away from Valensole, there are several other lavender fields which offer stunning views onto the Alp mountains beyond. Lavandin is the variety of lavender grown in Valensole.
Drôme Provençale (Drôme)
Drôme is not situated in Provence at all but instead in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. However, due to the prevalence of lavender fields, its rich history and cultural heritage, as well as its physical proximity to Provence, the Drôme is often referred to as Drôme Provençale.
Home to lavender distilleries such as those of Nyons and Chamaloc, since the lavender fields in Drôme are further north than those in Valensole, they tend to bloom from mid to late July and are typically harvested at the beginning of August.
Pays de Sault
Less visited than other areas where Provence lavender fields can be found, Pays de Sault is home to many of the region’s most famous fine lavender fields. Situated in the shadow of Mont Ventoux, this area is home to small and charming villages such as Aurel, Ferrasières, and Sault.
The Luberon Valley is found in the Vaucluse departments and is characterised by its medieval hilltop villages topped with steepled churches and breathtaking views. Surrounding these villages, visitors will soon discover a sea of purple lavender should they opt to visit during the Provence lavender season.
The most famous of the Luberon Valley lavender fields is that of Sénanque Abbey, which is a monastery fairly close to Gordes. As the spot is one of the most iconic places to see the lavender fields in Provence, you should be sure to head to Sénanque Abbey as early in the day as possible to as to avoid too many crowds. Most of the lavender grown in the Luberon is lavandin.
Best time to see the lavender in Provence
One of the trickiest things to know when planning a trip to Provence is exactly when the best time to visit the lavender fields will be. Visit too early and you’ll miss the best of the beautiful purple blooms, while visiting too late will mean that the lavender will have already been harvested and you’ll have missed your window of opportunity to enjoy them at all.
It’s quite hard to book your lavender trip far in advance if you want to see the very best of the flowers in bloom as the best time to visit the lavender fields will vary entirely on the weather of the previous months, as well as the region you’re visiting.
The lavender closer to the prealps and the alps (i.e. the fields to the north of the region) will bloom several weeks later than those further south (i.e. on the Valensole Plateau). The finest lavender (that grown in the highest altitude in the North of Provence) is always the last to bloom.
Typically, the lavender will start to bloom in the last week or so of June and will be harvested in the latter half of July (i.e. in the last two weeks of July). Though you may catch some early blooms if you head to Provence around the 20th June onwards (particularly the earlier blooming lavender fields in Provence such as those in Valensole), your safest bet is to book a trip during the first week of July.
With this being said, since I visited the fields of lavender so early, it meant that there were much fewer tourists around. And while the blooms were not as good as they might have been a few weeks later, the photos my friends and I took definitely had fewer people in them.
If you are visiting Provence in August and wish to see the lavender in bloom, then you may still be in luck. After all, the flowers around the town of Banon, which is situated in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, typically flower later and so are harvested in the first or second week of August. The lavender fields in the Luberon are the first to bloom, followed by those in Valensole. As such, they are the first to be harvested from mid-July onwards.
Tips for visiting the Provence lavender fields
One of the top things to note is that you should be sure to be respectful when visiting any lavender fields. Over the past few years, and especially since the rise of social media sharing apps such as TikTok and Instagram, the Provence lavender fields have seen more visitors in recent years than ever before.
Unfortunately, in this time, some visitors have been incredibly disrespectful, which has ended up with damaged plants and farmers erecting fences around their crops so as to protect them. As such, be sure not to step directly on the plants (walk over them) when visiting the fields, and do not pick them. If you want to purchase lavender, then you can do so for €3 a bunch at an organic stand on the Route du Manosque.
When it comes on how to dress, be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat as the lavender fields are directly exposed to the sun and there is no shade around. As there are plenty of parking spaces directly next to the fields, I personally wore some Superga trainers.
When it comes to choosing an outfit, I highly recommend light-coloured clothing such as a white dress or a pastel shade as this really pops out against the colour of the lavender. In terms of accessories, you can’t go wrong with a classic straw hat and straw bag à la Provençale!
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