Provence Guru editor and author of the Moon Guide to Provence selects the 5 best places to stop and take photos of lavender.
Lavender blooms in Provence between late June and early August. When a particular lavender field reaches peak colour depends on altitude and weather conditions. The higher the lavender field the later it blooms. And don’t worry you can walk happily amid the lavender, there are no snakes!
- Plateau de Valensole, Manosque, D8
Renowned as a late blooming lavender, field this is the place to stop in late July/early August to see great expanses of lavender. Rows of the purple stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s the place to try and capture those picture postcard photos of waves of lavender rolling over the horizon, with of course an artistic silhouette of a lone tree. If staying in Aix, Avignon, the Luberon or Les Alpilles, a trip to the Valensole lavender fields can easily be combined with a visit to the Gorges du Verdon.
2. Abbaye de Senanque, Gordes, D117
In a steep sided valley just to the north of the picturesque village of Gordes, the Abbaye is still home to a community of monks. The Cistercian abbey is one of three in Provence built around the 12th century. All are renowned for their architectural simplicity. Senanque is unique in having a mature field of lavender lapping around the base of its stone walls. The monks still harvest the lavender and use it to make essential oils and soaps. The lavender field is best seen in July. Note the approach road is extremely narrow and parts of it are one way. Head north from Gordes on the D117 and you will encounter the lavender field and Abbey.
3. Bonnieux, D36 near the old station
This field is an earlier bloomer. Stop here in early July and you will usually be rewarded by a great swathe of vibrant purple. It’s not as extensive as Valensole, but it makes the list because of the views of Menerbes, Lacoste and Bonnieux in the background. Bonnieux tourist office are very helpful and will advise whether the lavender is in bloom or not.
In and around Sault there are fields upon fields of Lavender. The buzz of the bees can be almost deafening. At the foot of the village there is a 90 minute circular walk that takes you out into a purple sea. The photo opportunities are endless so make sure there’s plenty of space on the memory card. Find the start of the walk at the car park near the Vallon Distillery at Les Michouilles. Late July is usually the best moment to see the lavender. Again you can call the tourist office for advice.
5. Simiane La Rotonde.
Personally I like to enjoy the view of the lavender from the village walls of Simiane. The perched village is so high you get a bird’s eye view of the patchwork of purple fields below. Afterwards wander through the narrow streets up to La Rotonde’s 12th century Chateau. The lavender is usually in full bloom in mid July.
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