Provence is famed worldwide for the aromatic scents and vibrant lavender plants which can be seen peppering the fields each summer. From mid-June to mid-August, you will discover row upon row of the brightly coloured flowers creating a picture-perfect patchwork of colour on the landscape.
Aside from wandering through the fragrant foliage with the warmth of the sun beating down on your skin, you may also like to visit the renowned Lavender Museum. Found less than an hour’s drive from Avignon, the museum and surrounding fields will bring your senses to life as you’re presented with colours, textures and scents that you could only have ever dreamed of before. The lavender plant encapsulates the essence of the area and at the museum, you will gain a deeper understanding of the influence the plant has had, as well as how it has been processed.
The Lavender Stills
One of the most impressive collections at the Lavender Museum is the copper stills, some of which date to the 16th-century. Used to extract the essence from the flower head to create the aromatic oils that we know and love, they’re at the heart of lavender cultivation. At the museum, visitors will gain an insight into the three primary distilling techniques used all those years ago, and still used today. The first exhibition, the pot still and tilting pot still, are the oldest of their kind at the museum, and each is one-of-a-kind and handcrafted, likely by the villagers in France, long before the cultivation of lavender. The second, the double-boiler still, uses a pressure gauge, which at the time was a huge development for the industry, meaning that the stills could process a larger volume of lavender in almost half of the time. The third at the museum is the steam still, using a pressure gauge and boiler, it can process the largest volume of flowers and is the most modern in the collection.
The Lavender Museum also has a beautiful collection of bottles, some of which date to the 16th century. It has long been understood that by storing essential oils in coloured glass bottles, you can protect the quality of the content. UV rays can cause oxidation and alter the chemicals in the oils, making them less effective. By choosing a coloured bottle, such as amber, blue or green, the essential oils within are given additional protection. The collection at the museum is stunning, with varying shapes, sizes and ages.
As well as admiring the fields, lavender stills and perfume bottles, visitors are invited to watch the two documentaries shown at the museum each day. One gives a fantastic overview of the work that is required in growing and processing the plant, from planting, harvesting and distillation. The other shows the lavender nursery, the volume of seedlings planted each year and the preservation of the land.
Beauty and Pleasure
Another joy of visiting the Lavender Museum is the chance to buy some of the exceptionally high-quality items made and sold there. From cosmetics to well-being products, you will be transported to a haven of lavender. Each item created uses the true lavender from the farm, with no unwanted additives such as parabens or silicones, making each environmentally and skin-friendly. Each product ‘emphasises the natural active ingredients’ in the oils, in-keeping with tradition and promoting the benefits of the plant. The product range varies, from hair and body to perfume and home, each with the irresistible scent of France.
The Lavender Museum aims to continue the exploration of your senses with their touring itineraries. The tours showcase the highlights of the local area, with gastronomical tasting days of local nougat and fine wines to exploring the historical hilltop villages and taking mini cruises on the Rhône. Each of the itineraries are a pleasure to take part in, and of course, you’ll get more than your fill of lavender at the museum and in the fields. If you’re thinking of visiting this fascinating museum and the postcard-worthy lavender fields during your stay in one of our luxury holiday villas, South of France, to find out more about the farm and museum before your visit, head to the Musée De Lad Lavande website: http://www.museedelalavande.com/en/le-musee-de-la-lavande
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