Lavender in the Luberon
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.
When does lavender bloom in the Luberon?
The lavender in the Luberon blooms from around the last week of June to the beginning of August when it is harvested. The exact timing varies according to the rainfall in the year before. But the peak for rich colour is in early July. By the end of July the lavender colour is still there but a little faded compared to early July.
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.
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 Cous
Tellet there is even a Lavender Museum exploring the history of the cultivation of lavender in Provence.
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.
La Ferme de GerbaudA farm where you can discover the aromatic plants of Provence, their use and history. The farm also has horses, donkeys and other animals. Guided tour from April to October on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 5pm, and November to March on Saturdays at 3pm. Tour lasts 90 minutes, in French or English.
Address: La Ferme de Gerbaud, 11 chemin de Gerbaud, Lourmarin 84160
Tel: 04 90 68 11 83
Ho! Bouquet de lavandeGuided farm visit and sale of essential oils and lavender products. Open end-April to mid-November.
Address: Quartier Cassan, Ferrassieres 26570
Tel: 04 75 28 87 52
Les Lavandes du Gaec ChampelleOrganic lavender farm, with group visits by appointment. Small shop selling lavender products open April to October.
Address: Quartier Champelle, Route de Ventoux, Sault 8439
Tel: 06 82 53 95 34
La Ferme aux LavandesLavender farm and conservatory garden. Shop open seasonally.
Address: Route du Mont Ventoux 84390 Sault
Tel: 06 82 93 52 09
GAEC Aroma'PlantesAn organic, sustainable farm growing plants with aromatic and medicinal qualities since 1978. They produce and distil their own plants. They sell plants, essential oils, scented water and syrups. Open year-round, free distillery visits and walks on the farm year-round.
Address: GAEC Aroma'Plantes, Route du Ventoux, Sault 84390
Tel: 04 90 64 14 73
Distillerie les CouletsTraditional lavender distillery, open year-round for sale of lavender products. Distillery visits in July-August from 9-12 and 2-6pm, free.
Address: Distillerie les Coulets, 1303 Chemin des Coulets, Route de Rustrel, Apt 84400
Tel: 04 90 74 07 55
Distillerie du VallonFree visits of the lavender distillery from July 25 to August 25.
Address: Distillerie du Vallon, 963 Route du Vallon, Sault 84390
Tel: 04 90 64 14 83
Distillerie Les AgnelsLavender distillery open all year, sale of organic essential oils. Indoor therapeutic pool with lavender water.
Address: route de Buoux, Apt
Tel: 04 90 04 77 00
Distillerie de Lavande Jean-Claude GuigouLavender products sold by a small producer. French only.
Address: route de Buoux, Hameau Les Agnels, Apt 84400
Tel: 04 90 74 34 60
Musée de la LavandeWith a collection of copper stills from the 16th century to today, video presentations and a visitor shop, the lavender museum
Tells you everything you probably wanted to know about lavender. Not that gripping if you are not into lavender.
Address: Musée de la Lavande, Route de Gordes, Cous
Tel: 04 90 76 91 23