Lavender has always grown wild in Provence…
Every year thousands flock to the hills and valleys of Provence to visit the famed lavender fields. There are several different lavender routes (six official itineraries to be exact), choose depending on the time of year and your interests…
Provence Lavender Season
The most important thing I can advise you is to make sure your timing is right – check the Lavender Flowering Calendar for your chosen area before setting out (Calendar in PDF format). There is nothing more disappointing than a field “almost” in bloom! I’ve been there and it’s a definite let down albeit still a beautiful drive (no scent and the colors are dull in comparison). July usually is the best time to go in general, but do still check the calendar for the best areas to visit for the week you are arriving. In mid to late August, it’s harvest time.
Just a tip
Although you might be tempted to also visit the small perched villages in the area, I recommend that you keep it for another day. Take your time to savor the lavender fields using the gift of all your five senses: savor your picnic lunch (you did stop to pick up lunch in Sault?), admire the vibrant purple colors, enjoy the intoxicating scents, feel the sun beating on your back, and hear the buzz of the bees, the chant of the Cicadas, and the crunch of the rocks underfoot…
So where do I go to visit the lavender fields of Provence ?
Le Chemin des Lavandes, 84390 Sault, France
- The route that goes through Sault ending in Carpentras is lovely and one of the largest and most well-known. The “Festival de la Lavande” in Sault (among others) is a lot of fun if you get your timing right. If you do go through Sault, pick up cheese, salami and wine at Yves et Virginie’s Epicerie Fine in the center of town. VERY tasty!
Brownie points if you understand and laugh like I did at the name of this local cheese… The pig shaped saucisson makes a great gift if you want to take your chances sneaking it back in your suitcase (I deny ever suggesting such an act).
- I also particularly like the “Drôme Provençale” itinerary as it takes you through some really beautiful countryside, but it’s not necessarily the most popular or well-known.
- My girlfriend native to the area prefers the Digne-les-Bains to Castellane leg that goes by Lake Castillon (bring your bathing suit). If you take that route, I highly recommend that you extend your trip to include the Valensole Plateau.
- Another recommended choice is the Crest to Die route which I have not yet traveled during the lavender season. It is, however, extraordinarily picturesque at any time of the year and I highly recommend the trip.
For more ideas check out the Provence Guide Website (in English).
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with any itinerary as it’s all very beautiful. Remember the most important aspect is that the fields are actually BLOOMING ! So check that calendar!!!
- Provence Web Guide’s Lavender Itineraries
- GTA’s Lavender Route Itineraries
- GTA’s Lavender Routes Maps (simplified PDF format):
- Luberon Gite Itinerary Route Suggestion:
Luberon Gite’s Routes de la lavande (PDF map)
- Chemin des Lavandes (free with interpretive signage)
Sault Walking Route PDF Map (allow 2 very leisurely hours)
Don’t forget to check out the Lavender Museum in Cousellet on your way back and pick up a few goodies while learning all about the history and cultivation of lavender.
Lavender Drying Tips
If you have some lavender you would like to try drying, just bunch them loosely and hang upside down until completely dry. It’s best if the blooms are just starting to open when you harvest. Try adding a few of those dried buds to your Earl Grey tea for a delicious blend. For a calming effect (both on your nerves and your digestive system) try adding a large tablespoon of dried buds to a cup of hot water with a touch of honey.
If you have any questions or want clarification, just drop me a note (see my contact page) and I will do my best to answer you.
Girl Gone Gallic
PS – Watch out for the horseflies which will take a big stinging bite out of you at will > Ouch!!! Advice given to you from personal experience.