Part 3 of France travel blog series: Provence and it’s majestic Lavender fields is all about finding this beautiful world famous purple Lavender fields and at the same time exploring the most charming small villages in Provence, France.
Part 1: First Impression of France
Welcoming you with a crisp whiff of lavender, Provence, the charming region in southeastern France is gorgeous beyond words. No wonder, the impressionist artists – the likes of Van Gogh and Picasso – took inspiration from this magnificent region. Provence is home to a variety of landscapes, be it the stunning endless sea of lavender fields or the bright yellow sunflowers gleaming in the sunlight. Provence is almost synonymous to lavenders and finding concise information on lavender fields can be a daunting task. But fret not, as we provide vital information about Provence and it’s majestic lavender fields and more importantly, when to visit.
By air, the nearest airport is the Marseille-Provence airport. You can also consider Nice as your point of entry is Provence is just about 2-3 hours drive from Nice. Or if you are crazy like us, you can plan a cross country road-trip and explore super cute countryside villages and unparalleled vistas.
To visit the fields and the many small towns in the region, we highly recommend renting a car, which will give a lot of flexibility.
When to visit:
The one most important thing you have to consider before visiting Provence is the season. Even though, you will read articles online stating that Lavender fields are in bloom from June to August, this is a very broad range. Just like the tulip fields in Amsterdam, no one knows the exact time when the flowers will be in full bloom. The date changes year on year and depends mostly on weather conditions like rain, sunshine etc.
As a general rule of thumb, Lavender fields will start blooming by late June. According to the locals, early July is the best time to visit Lavender fields in Provence. The Lavender fields are usually in full bloom during the first 2 weeks of July and are usually harvested starting mid-July.
The only areas where you can find Lavender fields in early August is Sault or around Banon. Unfortunately for us, since we visited in early August most of the fields were harvested and the remaining fields looked dull and lifeless. So, choose the right time to take in the beauty of purple Provence.!
Handy tip: One thing you need to be careful about is the bees and wasps that inhabit the fields. If you go in between the rows, try not to get bitten by them. Scout the area and choose a place that’s not very bushy.
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Provence and it’s majestic Lavender fields:
There are two main regions in Provence which you can consider exploring to for some stunning and majestic Lavender fields: the Valensole Plateau, the Sault Plateau and the Luberon Plateau.
The Valensole Plateau:
The Valensole plateau is the most famous region for it’s Lavender fields. If you have an image of a beautiful Lavender field at sunset with a lone tree towards the end, this is the region you need to target. Not only lavender, but in this region you will also find beautiful sunflower fields. This is the region we plan to visit when we go back to Provence for those classic Lavender field shots. You will definitely need to rent a car, to explore this region better.
The Sault Plateau
Sault is the capital of Lavender celebration and production. The annual Lavender festival is held on 15th August every year and hence the last few fields in Provence are harvested just before this festival. Sault is also a beautiful village from where you can see that stunning view of Lavender fields stretching for miles. Since the Lavender fields are more concentrated in Sault, you can easily explore them on foot or rent a bike.
The Luberon Plateau
The Luberon region is the third most popular region in Provence, due to Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque. This is one of the most vantage places for those classic Lavender field photos. The fields in this region are not as concentrated as Sault and Valensole, which means that you will need to rent a car to explore this region. But be sure that you will find gorgeous vineyards and olive groves in addition to Lavender fields on your drive along the country roads.
There are other areas in Provence which you can explore as well. For additional information on Provence and it’s majestic Lavender fields, you can visit the ProvenceWeb site.
Photography tip: The best time for photographing the Lavender fields is golden hour i.e. sunrise or sunset. In Europe, sunrise is around 4 – 4.30am in June, which can be a bit early for most of us. But, we also have longer days, so you can target 9 – 10pm for sunset photos. The only disadvantage of going for sunset photos is that you will find more tourists / crowd who have the same idea.
Small villages in Provence worth exploring:
Provence is full of picturesque small villages. If you have visited the towns in Alsace region, you will see a stark contrast between them. Most of the buildings and houses in Provence sport a sepia toned stone facade.
As we were driving from Alsace to Provence region (a very long drive indeed with expensive tolls), we chose a small village named Sablet as our overnight stay. This provencal village is built on a mound with lush hillside vineyards around. We thoroughly enjoyed the stay and we highly recommend this village as it offers a very rustic experience of the french countryside living.
The idyllic village of Sault, known as the lavender capital of Provence, is full of sweeping views of the purple blossom. The entire is village is easily walk-able. The boutique shops at the village center sell all things lavender. Right from the lavender itself to locally produced lavender infused products such as soaps, perfume and also lavender flavored ice cream to tickle your senses, you can find everything here.
Other interesting places around Sault are Montbrun-les-Bains and Saint-Auban-sur-l’Ouvèze.
This beautiful village is built on top of a hill and offers spectacular view of the Luberon valley and the whole town from the “Town View Point“. It comes as no surprise that this hilltop village serves as the summer residence for popular artists in Paris . The town center is usually bustling with tourist activity and with expensive restaurants and small cafes.
Just a few kilometers north of Gordes, is the famous Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque. It’s a 12th century medieval Cistercian abbey where the monks still live and produce honey and lavender essence. The abbey is surrounded by a beautiful lavender field as well making it a perfect scenery for photographers. We skipped this as the lavender fields were harvested.
Other attractions in Provence in addition to the majestic Lavender fields:
The lake of St. Croix:
This picturesque lake is absolutely gorgeous and is a must see. The view from the top of the bridge is just stunning. Take a swim, do some cliff jumping, rent a kayak or padal boat and laze around the lake and watch the time go by. The lake of St. Croix is a perfect place for an amazing summer picnic.
Verdon Gorge is a stunning location for boat ride. You can hire boats for 40 euro for 2 hours or 60 euro for 3 hours. To hire a boat, you will need to have cash and a passport or identity card on you. Verdon Gorge will start getting busy from 10am onwards, so plan to go there early for some quite time around the gorge.
PS: Bathroom facility and a few restaurants are available near by.
Photography tip: You will see water glittering in that beautiful tortoise blue when the sun is shining nice and strong. Unlike most places, noon is a good time for photography if you want to capture that stunning water colour. A quick time lapse view of the Verdon Gorge from the Pont de Galetas will look really cool.
Other cheesy family photos: