It’s this time of year that Provence turns purple when the Lavender fields start to explode with colour and the air fills with scent as the flowerheads gently brush against each other in the breeze. The air above them seems to shimmer with the colour and the constant buzz of bees and insects is a backdrop to the silent flight of the butterflies that drift from stem to stem. It really is a beautiful place to be….
I don’t know if it’s the scent, the colour or the ‘busy-ness’ of the scene that I love most, but I can’t imagine a nicer place to sit and spend a few minutes just being in and most importantly enjoying the moment.
The Lavender fields from the Luberon towards Mont Ventoux and across into the Alpes de Haut Provence are stunning & add a vibrant flash of colour to what is normally, at this time of year, already a dry and sun-bleached landscape. The fields stand out clearly in the midst of vines, and cereal crops, bringing even more interest to an already beautiful view.
The area around Sault is the centre of Lavender growing near us, with the fields in the valley and on the lower flanks of Mont Ventoux turning from the soft green corduroy stripes of the winter plants to a chaos of purples as they all come into flower. The views from the Boulevard at the front of the village, or the viewpoint on the road towards Saint Saturnin are always great, although to cycle or walk along the road that winds through the fields towards the summit of Mont Ventoux is by far the best way to experience it.
Here you will find a couple of Lavender farms, including the delightful La Ferme aux Lavandes , which produces essential oils and other lavender-based products as well as being a beautiful area to sit and rest.
The fields continue on towards the pretty village of Aurel, with one of the most photographed fields from last summer being found just outside the village on the road towards Brantes – it was jaw-droppingly beautiful & we happened to pass by when there were no other people there.
Taking the road out of Sault towards Lagarde D’Apt, which has just been named as one of the best places to see the night sky in France (5 star village etoile) you climb onto the Plateau D’Albion, where again there is Lavender as far as the eye can see, with almost every thin strip of land filled with the plants, providing a purple foreground to the views of Mont Ventoux on one side and the distant Alps on the other. Being higher this is one of the best places to see lavender at the end of the season.
A little further down the road is the charming & peaceful village of Simiane La Rotonde, in front of which are the large lavender fields of Young Living Essential Oils which has a laboratory in the old circular chateau ‘keep’ at the top of the village. The lavender fields here stretch out again beyond towards Banon and the village of Vacheres.
Heading back towards Apt, home to a delightful Lavender Festival each year Lavender, Lavender everywhere….. The Apt Lavender Festival the village of Saignon sits perched above the town, around which the fields are full of colour, especially across the Plateau Des Claparedes, between Saignon and the Col Du Pointu, flanked to the rear by the mass of the Grand Luberon and with beautiful views across the Luberon valley towards Mont Ventoux on the other.
The simple fact is that there are countless places to go to see the Lavender at its best in the Vaucluse……… and it really is worth seeing
It’s easy to see why so many photos are taken of it. In fact we have one of the Abbaye de Senanque lavender in our bedroom at home in the UK, along with a range of lavender bags from the region too.
A friend sometimes raises her eyebrow when we wax lyrical about it and talk about wanting to fill our small garden with it, as she sees it more as an agricultural crop albeit a very pretty one.
The thing is that I love the colour, the scent and the overall sense of wellbeing that comes from the plant and it’s lovely to see that each year new fields are being planted across the area. Apart from acting as a tourist attraction, drawing thousands of people to the area each summer, it is very clearly a thriving local industry in its own right.
Of course it’s always sad to see the harvest and the swathes of purple disappearing on the back of trailers to the small distilleries that seem to be everywhere, but in some ways that is when the scent is at its best, especially when we cycle over pieces that have fallen onto the roads and crushed under the wheels, or you happen to walk by a distillery busy at work.
The season may be relatively short, but the celebration of ‘all things lavender’ in Sault on 15th August each year A lovely day at the Sault Lavender Festival is a great way to end it and from then the fields revert to their corduroy stripes until they start to sprout again next year.
Needless to say I’ll be back for more!