The Ultimate Guide to the Lavender Fields in Provence, France

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Alright, guys, those lavender fields are all over your Instagram feed so you definitely know about them. Those perfect purple flowers are so photogenic that I can only see them become more and more popular!

If you plan on visiting the South of France during the summer, you definitely should plan on going to the lavender fields. The region is so picturesque that it attracts so many photographers, painters, and of course regular tourists from all around the globe. Those fields truly are a symbol of France and especially of the South. So let’s explore this beautiful region together!

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Location: Where to See the Lavender Fields in Provence?

There are a large number of fields, scattered over 4 French départements called les Alpes de Haute-Provence, les Hautes-Alpes, le Vaucluse and la Drôme. The main and largest lavender fields of are located on the Luberon and Verdon plateaux. Some fields are located near farms and you can go there and buy some lavender directly from the producers.

Like wheat or sunflower fields (which you can also find in the region), lavender fields are found bordering the roads. So just drive around the region and stop whenever you see a field that you fancy!

Sunflower fields in Valensole

Valensole Plateau

Usually, Valensole is the place that is associated with lavender. The purple fields are literally everywhere and they go as far as the eye can see, dominated by stunning mountains. These are probably the most beautiful lavender fields in Provence. You can’t miss them! Lavender isn’t the only flower growing in Valensole though. A few sunflower fields can be found between the purple ones.

The Route of Manosque (D6), passing through the Valensole village is the most famous one to admire lavender fields. But it also teems with tourists. I must admit that the place is a victim of its success. So instead of only going to the D6, try driving along the smaller roads. You will find lavender fields of different sizes along most of the roads in the area. Valensole is definitely a sure value!

When hearing the word “Provence” everyone always pictures an endless sea of purple flowers

L’abbaye de Sénanque and Gordes

Another famous area to see the lavender fields is at to the village of Gordes, around the Abbaye de Sénanque (Abbey of Sénanque). With its Provençial charm and its typical architecture, the village of Gordes was named “one of the most beautiful villages in France”. It is known as being one of the most picturesque and prettiest villages in the region. Gordes is a must-visit if you are chasing the lavender fields.

Hidden in the valley of Gordes, lies the old Abbey of Sénanque that is surrounded by fields of lavender. The monks living there harvest the lavender themselves and sell it. The production of lavender essence, honey and liqueurs contribute to the livelihood of their community. Bear in mind that if you plan on visiting the Abbey, you will be asked to come shoulders and knees covered.

“Lavender is the soul of Provence” – Jean Giono

Sault Plateau

Just like the Valensole plateau, it is difficult to miss the lavender on the Sault plateau especially if you drive along the Mont Ventoux road (D164). From Sault, known as the lavender capital in France, the chemin de la lavande (lavender path) allows you to discover all of what this symbol of Provence has to offer. In this region, the fields are wilder than in Valensole and more a little more preserved because lesser known.

Drôme Provençale

To see lavender fields, everyone always thinks of Valensole or Sault. The Drôme Provençale is a gorgeous hidden little secret. The Drome Provençale is full of places to see the lavender fields. Surrounded by mountains, cliffs or villages, lavender is present everywhere.

Along the lavender road, you should take the time to stop in one of the many farms, distilleries, and museums, where you can discover all the virtues of this medicinal and fragrant flower. From harvesting to distillation and honey making, all the local producers are always happy to show you and explain all those steps. You can’t forget to taste real lavender honey!

Getting There and Around: How to Visit the Lavender Fields in Provence

The best way to plan your journey from either Nice, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, or even Avignon is definitely by renting a car. I won’t lie to you, having a car is a necessity. There is no public transportation that will take you to directly to the lavender fields in Provence from any town or city. You can rent a car in any neighboring cities and then drive up to the fields over a weekend for example. It will give you the flexibility you need to visit and you will even have time to enjoy the sunrise and sunset if you’d like!

If you are unable to drive, I wouldn’t recommend taking public transport but rather booking a tour, like this one from Avignon, this one from Aix-en-Provence or this one from Nice.

What is the Best Time to Visit the Lavender Fields in Provence?

Now that you know where to go see gorgeous fields of lavender, you have to know when to visit the area to admire them in full bloom. Depending on the region, the lavender season may vary.

In the lowlands, the blooming season is from mid-June until mid-July at the latest. For Valensole, in general, the ideal is the first week of July. For other plateaux that are more in the North (around Sault), the blooming season is later, from early July to mid-August. It also obviously depends on the weather conditions throughout the year. The higher the elevation is, the later the lavender will bloom.

In summary, lavender blooms from late June to mid-August, which is the harvesting time. The best is to go early July, most of the lavender will be in bloom everywhere!

What is the Weather Like in Provence During the Lavender Season?

July is the hottest and driest month of the year in Provence. The average temperature is 25˚C (77˚F). But bear in mind that there isn’t much shade around. So during the day when it is 30°C (86°C) it will feel like it is 35°C (95°C) or even 40°C (104°C)!

In Provence, the weather is dry and not humid at all. Keep that in mind when renting your car because you will definitely need good air-conditioning! The second time I went to the lavender fields our AC broke down and we were roasting like chickens the entire trip there and back! Luckily we had a reflective sun shade for our car windshield so when we parked, our seats were somewhat in the shade. 

To survive those hot French summer days, don’t forget to drink plenty of water! Tap water is drinkable in France (unless stated otherwise on the fountains) so you can always refill if you need but in the fields you won’t be able to find any water so always keep a few liters (half a gallon) in the car just in case.

Evenings do tend to get colder, especially further inland. You should pack light cotton layers for the day, sunglasses, a sun hat or cap, a swimsuit (since the Gorges du Verdon are closeby, you should take a dip at some point!) and have a sweater on hand for the cooler evenings. 

At least, since it rarely rains during this time of year, there are good chances that your trip to the lavender fields in Provence will be sunny. Don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen and eat plenty of lavender ice cream to keep cool!

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Provence?

If you truly want to experience the region, I advise you to stay with locals by renting an Airbnb or an actual local bed and breakfast (some even have pools!) Staying around Valensole or Manosque is a good idea if you want to visit the lowlands plateaux. Bear in mind that you have to plan your trip and book your housing early because those tend to get taken months in advance!

An amazing activity to do in the area is a hot air balloon ride. I recommend this incredible one from Manawa, located in Forcalquier, only a 30-minute ride away from both Valensole and Manosque. You will be able to see the fortified villages nestled atop the Luberon mountains and of course, the beautiful lavender fields from above.

Photography and Drone Tips for the Lavender Fields

Lavender fields are beautiful no matter the time of day. In the middle of the day, the lavender has a vibrant purple color while during sunrise or sunset it has different shades from light pink to blue. If you want to escape crowds, sunrises are the best time to take photos. Regarding lighting, sunrises and sunsets are the most magical times.

It was my first time using a drone to take photos in the lavender fields and one problem arose fast while doing so. I want you to be aware of it so you don’t make the same mistake I did.

Drone shots from Valensole

Bees don’t like drones very much. They attacked my DJI ferociously without any second thought. Sadly, the drone propellers injured a lot of those poor bees which did not deter them from going at it. Because of that, we stopped right away taking drone photos and videos in the middle of the day.

I would advise you to take drone shots during sunrise or sunset because bees aren’t gathering pollen during those times and it is safe to fly your drone then. And if you are scared of bees, it is also the best time to take photos! In principle, however, if you do not make sudden moves, they won’t bother you. I personally never got stung while visiting the lavender fields in Provence those past few years.

Practical Information About Lavender

Did you know that there are three types of lavenders? The lavande fine, lavande aspic and lavandin, the latest being a hybrid of the former two. The fields in Valensole and most of the other famous fields are not lavender fields but lavandin fields. Lavandin produces way more oil than the traditional lavender (lavande fine). Lavandin oil is mainly used for household products or cosmetics such as soap while lavender oil by being more rare and precious is used in perfumes.

Each type of lavender possesses different properties and qualities. The lavender aspic is a strong anti-inflammatory but can also be neurotoxic. The traditional lavender is fully consumable and possesses many medicinal virtues (from helping with insomnia to stomach problems). Lavandin, by being a mix of the two is usually used to repel insects and heal insect bites.

I hope this guide to the lavender fields in Provence will help you plan your perfect Provence gateway! If you have any travel tips for the South of France let me know in the comments below!

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