The calming, delicate fragrance and dusky purple hue of lavender have enchanted people for centuries – so what could be better than surrounding yourself in fields of the stuff on your travels? If there's one place in particular that has become synonymous with lavender it's Provence. With quaint villages and rolling vineyards, and cuisine that incorporates lavender into its oils, honey and delicious sorbets, Provence is perhaps the best place in the world to see fields upon fields of lavender. Here's everything you need to know when visiting the beautiful explosion of colour of the lavender fields in Provence.
Lavender season in Provence sadly isn't a year-round affair. The best time to see the plants in bloom is from the last week of June to the beginning of August. Peak bloom is around mid-July – although this may vary year to year depending on the rainfall. In Provence, lavender fields are often found next door to sunny sunflower fields which are also best to enjoy in July and August, so if you want the best of both worlds, that's when to go.
While September is no doubt a lovely time to visit the Provence region, with fewer crowds and cooler weather, all of the lavender will have been harvested. Even in late August, you may cut it fine, so if your plan is to avoid the most crowds, your best bet is to go in July before the schools break for the summer holidays. Like many things it's best to be flexible if possible – so if you're thinking of heading to France for the lavender season next year, try to give yourself a couple of weeks so you can be sure to witness the fields at the peak of their beauty.
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The Valensole Plateau's lavender fields are perhaps the most famous and photographed in not only Provence, but in the world. The area is filled with fields (not only of lavender but also wheat and sunflowers), deep blue lakes and picturesque villages. Most famous is Valensole itself, situated above the plateau with the 11th century St Blaise church as a focal point. Here and in the pretty village of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon, there's plenty to explore.
You'll find fields of lavender framed by sunflowers, making this a spectacularly beautiful place to see. One field definitely worth seeking out is at Lavandes Angelvin – uninterrupted views of lavender with seemingly perfectly placed trees – you might even recognise the view – this is one of the most photographed spots in Provence. The best way to explore the Valensole region is by car.
The Luberon Valley is the locals’ favourite, with its hilltop villages and beautiful scenery. If you want a dose of authentic Provence as a side to your lavender fields, or if the village visits are the focus and lavender is the bonus, the Luberon Valley is a good choice.
Because the essence of the Luberon Valley is more about the whimsical streets and picturesque villages, lavender fields are naturally less concentrated here than in Valensole and Sault. That’s not to say it won’t still be easy to find them or that they’re any less beautiful, though. Tucked between vineyards and olive groves, you’ll find plenty of lavender fields on a drive.
Some highlights are Senanque Abbey, where the monastery is a unique backdrop to the rows of purple lavender; the midway point between Gordes, Lacoste and Bonnieux; the petite village of Rustrel; and Chateaux du Bois. Visiting the chateau itself is only possible by organised tour, and only in early July. The trip is well worth it for the finer fragrance of its fields, thanks to its higher elevation compared to most other Provence lavender fields in France.
The village of Sault sits on a ridge with forest on one side and rolling valley on the other, and its well-preserved medieval streets a pleasure to walk through. Even approaching Sault is a spectacle – the road leading up to this village offers views of the plateau full of lavender. As it’s more concentrated than the lavender fields of Valensole Plateau, you can easily explore these fields by foot or bike and will never be far away from your next field.
It's easy to seek out the best Provence lavender fields in Sault – there's a 5km lavender path through the finest fields. You can park at the public car park close to the Vallon des Lavandes distillery and walk the path.
One highlight is the field opposite La Bastide des Bourguets, which offers a backdrop of mountains and a charming stone hut which will make you feel like you've stepped back in time.