Lavender fields in Provence: secret tips by a local-
Where to see lavender fields in the south of France? This is the question everyone asks me when they come to Provence in summer, hoping to see lavender fields rippling in the blazing sun. Lavender truly is Provence’s purple gold and one of France’s most beloved attractions. But where to find the most beautiful lavender fields in Provence? Not only the famous ones, but also the secret spots, where you will get the lavender shot no one else will have? Trust me, I’m a local: I was born and bred in the heart of Provence and I still live here – lavender actually grows right by my doorstep. This is a genuine insider guide to southern France’s lavender fields, written by a French woman in love with those picture-perfect blooms.
We’ll start by visiting the most beloved and well-known lavender fields, the ones which attract tourists from all other the world. But then, I will guide you through secret locations I have come to discover during my long hikes and road trips through Provence. We’ll basically go decrescendo, starting with the locations with the highest numbers of visitors, and ending with the most secret spots to enjoy and photograph lavender blooms.
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First a very important plea from French farmers: please don’t pick the lavender. They’re not planting it for the gram, it’s their job and income. Picking flowers is stealing somebody’s work. If you want to take great shots with lavender flowers in your hand, you’re most welcome to buy little bouquets in souvenir shops for a low price!
The world’s biggest and most famous lavender fields: Valensole
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Those fields are so endless the horizon is tainted in purple. You’ll find the longest lavender lines in the world, and the highest number of acres covered in flowers. This is truly a photographer’s dream… so much that it’s also Provence’s most touristy spot at the end of June, when we reach peak bloom. It will be hard to take a shot without having a considerable amount of people in it – even at sunrise or sunset, even during week days. This is why you’ll find most secluded spots down below this post.
A perfect postcard: lavender in Sénanque
The Abbaye de Sénanque, in Vaucluse, is a medieval abbey founded in the 12th century – monks do still live there, work, pray and grow lavender. Seeing the purple-clad church at the beginning of July is truly a wonderful sight.
The late-bloomers: lavender in Sault, Ferrassières, Aurel
Has lavender already been cut in Valensole and Sénanque (early to mid-July, depending on the heat), and you’ve missed it? Dry your eyes and go to higher elevations. In some places, you might be able to see lavender until around mid-August. The fields surrounding the hilltop villages of Sault, Ferrassières and Aurel, in the heart of Vaucluse’s mountains, create a truly wonderful mosaic of purple hues, the villages offering scenic terraces to behold them, which can last longer than the ones in Valensole and Sénanque.
Can you see lavender in bloom in August in Provence?
I often receive e-mails asking me if it’s possible to see lavender in bloom in August. The answer varies from year to year: during very hot summers, lavender will be cut earlier, but if it has been a bit rainy and colder, lavender season might last a little while longer. The higher in elevation you will go, the better your chances will be. Those spots I’ve just mentioned – Sault, Ferrassières, Aurel – are probably your last chances to see lavender in August, because they are mountainous regions and grow a breed of Alpine lavender which blooms a bit later. But I don’t want to make any false promises: later than August 15th, it will most probably be over absolutely everywhere. You can console yourself with the lovely scents of the soaps, bouquets and essential oils!
Although you cannot compare the number of tourists with those in Valensole, those places can still get pretty crowded in the week-ends. This is why I suggest you to keep driving North.
Secret lavender fields in northern Provence: visit Drôme!
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The Drôme is the northernmost department in Provence and also the one most travelers tend to forget. But do believe me: you’ll find it as beautiful as the other locations, at the very least. Let me even confess that these are my favorite spots.
A few kilometers north of Sault and Aurel, you’ll find yourself in Montbrun-les-Bains, which officially ranks among France’s most beautiful villages. Take a bit of time to discover the village, and enjoy gorgeous lavender fields with the famous Mont Ventoux in the background. This is also a mountainous, late-blooming location.
Discover our regional natural park Baronnies provençales. In this remote, truly authentic corner of Provence, agriculture has always been part of our people’s history and culture, and lavender is omnipresent.
The area around Nyons is a great spot to behold and capture lavender. (These places are early bloomers: late June will be perfect.) My secret tip would be to go around the village of Venterol, where you will find ancient olive trees.
Two hilltop villages will offer great compositions with lavender in the foreground: Grignan and La Garde Adhémar. Both also rank among France’s most beautiful villages.
I love the spots around La Roche Saint Secret, Bouvières, Saint Ferréol: lavender fields rising on slopes so steep they seem to be vertical. This is Manhattan for lavender. And there won’t be a soul around – you’ll get all the time in the world to frame your perfect shot.
Lavender fields in Ardèche
Ardèche isn’t part of historic Provence – what once was the kingdom of Provence, in the Middle Ages. But in terms of climate and agriculture, it’s exactly the same, and few people know that lavender also grows by the dozens in southern Ardèche. Start your lavender tour in Viviers, continue towards Bourg Saint Andéol and then Saint Remèze, where you’ll find a beautiful lavender museum. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful empty lavender fields. This is where we took our wedding pictures with my now ex-husband.
While you’re in Saint Remèze, don’t forget to visit Northern’s Provence gorgeous canyon, the Gorges de l’Ardèche ! But this will be topic of another post… Hope you enjoyed this purple ride!
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