"Lavender is the soul of Provence"
The colour, the texture, and the scent of a lavender field encapsulate for many the essence of Provence. You can enjoy the lavender fields by car, by bike or on foot. The map indicates where around the Luberon you will find concentrations of lavender fields: on the high plateaux around Sault, at the foot of the Mont Ventoux, and around Apt and Gordes.
The lavender in the Luberon blooms from around the last week of June to the beginning of August when it is harvested. It is usually at its peak in early July, but this depends on the rainfall in the year.
If you want to see sunflowers and lavender together, sunflowers are in full colour in July-August. You may also find lavender fields that contain a stone borie, which makes a more interesting photo than just the lavender.
On the way to Sault you will pass the village of Simiane la Rotonde, which is a picture-perfect, perched village with fields of lavender at its base – an ideal spot to dabble in photographing the swathes of blue and purple.
Perhaps the most famous lavender shot in Provence is of the field in front of Senanque Abbey near Gordes. It is almost impossible not to get a memorable photo here. The best time to come is early because the light is in the right position in the morning, and it will be less crowded – a lot of people want to get this shot.
Abbaye de Senanque (Senanque Abbey) near Gordes.
Apart from gazing at lavender fields, you can also visit lavender farms and distilleries, attend lavender festivals at Sault and Valreas, and buy lavender products like oil, essences, perfumes, soap, etc. In Coustellet there is even a Lavender Museum exploring the history of the cultivation of lavender in Provence.
The map below shows the prime routes for finding lavender fields. These roads are a pleasure to drive or cycle along anyway, taking you through some of Provence's best scenery - the lavender is the icing on the cake.
Lavender Routes of ProvenceView Lavender Routes in Provence in a larger map
The Uses of Lavender
Lavender is said to heal insect bites and burns as well as repel insects. It can soothe headaches if you apply it to the temples and it helps you sleep if you have the flowers by your pillow. Dried lavender is used to repel moths in clothes closets. Lavender oil is also said to cure acne. The essential oil has antiseptic properties, it was used in hospitals in the 1st world war to disinfect wards. And of course it’s quite nice in the bath, for aromatherapy, and can be found in household products like room fresheners.
Lavender in Cooking
Lavender is not traditionally used in cooking in France but some chefs are experimenting with it. You would tend to use the buds/flowers for cooking rather than the leaves, as the buds contain the essential oil.