11 July 2015

Provence: Lavender

I think I've been dreaming of visiting the lavender fields of Provence for about twenty years now. Maybe longer. Since I first saw pictures of them, they (and Provence itself) seemed like a magical, beautiful place. You can find lavender fields in other places, of course: England, Canada (Quebec and BC), the U.S. (Oregon, Washington), but I don't think it's the same. With surreal blue skies, cypress trees, castles, hills, and Roman structures (some still in use so they can't be called ruins), Provence really is magical. While I'll probably visit other fields (I'm a bit lavender obsessed), I will always go back to Provence, as often as I can. I think you should too--especially since the lavender fields there are disappearing as farmers replace them with grape vines. Wine is nice, but I wouldn't travel halfway across the world to look at fields of vines (although I did end up seeing plenty of those too).

By the way, if you do ever find yourself in Provence and want to take any special day trips (lavender fields, wineries, chocolate or olive oil tasting, historic sites...) I highly, highly recommend Provence Authentic (also on Facebook). My guide, Elodie, was fantastic--knowledgeable, helpful, enthusiastic, and great company. She also spoke excellent English. Having a guide makes good sense anyway--you'll get to see and learn about things you wouldn't know about otherwise. Not having to worry about driving or parking is a bonus; despite having survived driving in Greece (where you have to watch out for falling rocks, hairpin turns beside cliffs, and Greek drivers), I found French roads intimidating. My only complaint with Provence Authentic is that they don't operate in other parts of France--I'd love to take Elodie with me on the visit I'm planning to Giverny!

The fields we visited were in the Luberon region of Provence. The fields all bloom at different times from late June until August, so if you're planning a trip, do some research to find out which fields will be in bloom.

At one point I had to laugh because it does seem a bit strange to travel so far just to look at fields of flowers. But they were so beautiful (and smelled lovely too), it is totally worth the trip.

The flowers are darker in this field because the blooms aren't fully open yet.

Note the castle on the hill in the background. I'm definitely bringing my telephoto lens on my next trip.   

This farm was called "La Savonnade." Savon is soap and the lavender in the fields I saw is a type called Lavandin, used in soap and cleansers. The higher quality lavender that's used to make essential oil grows in the mountains and wasn't blooming yet while I was there.
The mallow blooming in the middle of the lavender was growing wild all over. Years ago I bought mallow plants for my garden.

This field contained only a single row of lavender. I'm not sure if it was planted just to mark a boundary or if there's a long term plan to plant the entire field with lavender.

I'm not sure what kind of plant this is (my guess is some sort of grass gone to seed) but I thought it was a pretty contrast to the lavender.

Elodie spotted this ladybug
This field with the neighbouring house and garden is perfection. This is where I want to live.

We spotted this rather large snail on the road--such a pretty shell.
Before we left we moved it to the grass away from the road. Happy trails among the lavender, little guy.

Next post: Beautiful Provence

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