From mid-June, throughout the summer, Provence countryside is transformed into a sea of purple, and the gorgeous scent of lavender hangs in the air. When staying at our family friendly France villas, we recommend visiting some of the farms and taking a tour to see the lavender in all its glory.
When to Visit
Lavender starts to bloom around the time of the summer solstice, mid to end of June until it is harvested in the middle of August. It can differ year to year, depending on the weather, but from mid-June, throughout July and to the middle of August you are guaranteed to see some gorgeous sights of the beautiful rows of lavender in the fields, ranging from deep purple hues to lighter tones. And there is no mistaking that smell!
Where to Visit
There are many places to see the lavender fields, and it is often best to go off the beaten path. If you start your tour in Sault, known as the capital village of lavender, the backcountry is not far. The valley of Sault awaits, with tiny roads that take you between the fields, with Sault and Mont Ventoux acting as markers.
At the Distillerie Vallon in Sault, you can see the lavender being harvested and turned into oils, soaps and other products. A family run business, it is as authentic as this part of France gets, and you are sure to fall in love with it.
The Lavender Museum is a must for all nature lovers interested in lavender. The Lincelé family started the project in 1992, and today visitors can still discover the ‘true lavender of Provence.’ When you visit the museum, you can see a rich collection of lavender still, dating all the way back to the 16th century, with audio guides and commentary available in English. Make sure to stop off at the shop at the end of your visit to purchase some delightful lavender cosmetics.
Go before the crowds go, which is mostly in July. You may miss on the prime blooming time for lavender, but you will still witness the beautiful purple and blue flowers blooming and smell their sweet scent. One of the best times is to head to Provence in the last week of June, as this is right before the French are on holiday and before tourists are arriving in the peak season.
You can either skim the surface of the lavender industry or immerse yourself in the culture and people in Provence. Why not meet some of the growers, many of whom have a unique story to tell and are still running family-owned farms? Make an appointment at a distillery or book a private tour, so you get up close to the artisans, learning about their history, struggles, victories and techniques. Again, this is easier earlier in the season when they have more free time before the harvest.
The spectacular Notre-Dame de Sénanque Abbey where monks grow lavender is worth a visit, however, it is also one of the most visited in the region, so it is best to head there early in the day, or later when the crowds have died down.