lavender-field-provence-france

Chasing lavender in Provence

One of the reasons I chose July for my trip to Provence was to see the lavender. During the summer, endless fields take on a purple hue as their neat rows of lavender burst into full bloom.

We got off to a good start, as our apartment was only a 10-minute drive from Senanque Abbey, home to one of the most famous lavender fields in Provence. Guided tours of the abbey start at 9.45am, so we pitched up at 9am to beat the crowds.

There’s a huge field of lavender next to the car park, but the money shot is the field directly in front of the abbey.

Abbey-Senanque-Provence-lavender

A guidebook front cover if ever I saw one!

I’d definitely recommend heading here early – by the time we left at 9.30am, a school trip had arrived and there was a steady stream of cars leading into the car park.

A couple of days later, it was time for my full-day lavender itinerary, courtesy of one Mr Stu Dudley. You might not have heard have Stu, but he is basically the king of the Fodors forums. He answers practically every Provence-related question, has been to practically every inch of the region, and – most importantly – has put together the most in-depth itinerary for exploring Provence that you’ve ever seen. It covers off the Cote d’Azur first, but then has a dozen or so glorious pages on Provence; which villages to visit, which days to visit them, which routes to take between them. It was actually better than my Lonely Planet guidebook for planning the trip!

One of his suggested day-trip itineraries was a route up to Sault and Mount Ventoux, taking in a handful of pretty villages and a ton of lavender fields along the way – perfect. We set off along the D2 out of Gordes, travelling through huge vineyards as we made our way past the villages of Jucas and Lioux.

Vineyards in Provence

Our first pit stop was at Chateau Parrotier, which had a lovely lavender field right outside.

Chateau Parrotier lavender field, Provence

We then took a fantastically windy road through the mountains, which had the most amazing views. Luckily Mr ST was driving, so I was able to fully enjoy them rather than worrying about accidentally steering us off the road and into a deep ravine.

Mountains on lavender drive, Provence

Soon after we’d crossed the mountains, we hit our first big lavender fields of the day, on either side of the road. Getting out the car, the first thing you notice is the sound – the air hums with the sound of bees – followed by the delicious scent of lavender.

Lavender-field-in-Provence-France

The route took us up towards Sault, but turned off just before we got to the town, instead heading south-east to the town of Simiane la Rotonde. Along the way we passed probably the best lavender field of the trip, at the junction of the D30 and D166 roads. The field didn’t have the most scenic of backdrops (a slightly ugly warehouse), but the lavender was so much more vibrant than anything we’d seen.

lavender-field-provence-france

Lavender-field-in-Provence

I was dying for a photo of me twirling away among the lavender, but the thought of bee attacks, snake encounters and angry farmers shouting at me for trespassing meant I only took a tentative few steps in. (And the embarrassment and awkwardness of posing for photos put paid to the twirling idea.) But this was good enough for me…

lavender-field-in-Provence

From there, it was only another 10 minutes to Simiane la Rotonde, a charming, unspoilt village perched on a hill.

simiane-la-rotonde-provence-lavender Simiane-la-Rotonde Simiane-la-Rotonde-Provence

We only saw a handful of other tourists as we wandered around, and when we stopped for a coffee on the best (and only) terrace in the village, we were the only ones there.

Our next stop was Sault, one of the most famous lavender towns in Provence. We’d picked up some food at Gordes market earlier that day, so we found a bench with a view and tucked into our Provencal picnic.

Sault-lavender-view-picnic

The town is up on a hill, so you get wide-angle views over the valley, which is patchworked with fields of wheat and lavender. It was also where we were headed next, to drive the Chemin des Lavandes, a little road that weaves past a dozen or so of Sault’s best lavender fields.

It’s short enough to walk or cycle, which would probably be better than driving as you don’t have the hassle of trying to find somewhere suitable to pull in every time you want to stop and take a photo (which for me was at practically every field).

chemin des lavandes provence chemin des lavandes provence chemin des lavandes provence

At this point we were pretty much lavender-ed out, so instead of following the route north to Mount Ventoux we  journeyed back to our little apartment in Gordes, tired but happy to have seen some of the prettiest (and best smelling) countryside Provence has to offer.

Have you seen the lavender in Provence? Where did you find the best fields?

25 Comments

  • Reply Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 1, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    I’ve only been to the Mayfield Lavender Fields outside London and thought they were absolutely gorgeous so can’t even imagine how pretty they are in France! I think that’s a lovely photo of you in the fields – not worth the bee sting and sometimes the twirly ones can look a bit cringe!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 8, 2016 at 8:41 pm

      I keep hearing about lavender fields here in the UK, I have never seen any before! Next year I will try and hunt some out. Aw thank you – I love a photo of me facing away from the camera, means I don’t need to worry if I’m pulling a weird face or not!

  • Reply Tom August 8, 2016 at 12:44 am

    ooooohhh…what a good topic, and one that can’t possibly make anything but good photos for a blog post. I’ll certainly look up Stu Dudley’s tips as well when I get there.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 8, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks Tom! Stu is a legend, he could sell that itinerary it’s so good, but he continues to give it away for free!

  • Reply Juliette @ Snorkels To Snow August 8, 2016 at 1:19 am

    How beautiful! I love lavender. The sea of purple is just gorgeous! I have passed by Provence on the TGV a few years ago but didn’t stop. My problem would be the bees – I’m allergic so it’s not worth the risk!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 8, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Oh no, what a shame! They are still beautiful from afar, though, and even driving with the windows down we could get the lovely smell of them 🙂

  • Reply travelling chingrita August 8, 2016 at 2:43 am

    these pics belong in more than guidebooks, you’ve captured the beauty, smells and vibrancy of provence. i really want to go here now, even if my allergies do flare up! Simiane la Rotonde sounds like a perfect town to chill out in and I love the areas where there aren’t flocks of tourists!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 8, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you! I loved Simiane la Rotonde, it was so strange (but lovely) being the only tourists there compared to some of the busier towns like Gordes and Bonnieux.

  • Reply sarah August 8, 2016 at 3:18 am

    A visit to the lavender fields of Provence has been high on my list for years. I can almost smell the lavender in your photos.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 8, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Sarah – they were beautiful. There are even bigger ones in the Valensole region of Provence… they are next on my list!

  • Reply Angela August 8, 2016 at 4:07 am

    What an amazing experience! My husband and mother-in-law went on a France trip when I was stuck working a few years back and they made it out to see a few. I’m still jealous! Sounds like it was a little much, but a great experience nonetheless.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 8, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      It was a full-on day but worth it! And luckily by the time we got back to the apartment there was still time for an hour by the pool 🙂

  • Reply Nathan August 8, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    These photos are incredible and I can just imagine how amazing it must have smelt! I really hope to make it here myself one day.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 8, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks Nathan! I actually bought back a few sachets of the lavender so I have the smell in my house still!

  • Reply melody pittman August 9, 2016 at 4:35 am

    These lavender fields are amazing. I can only imagine how wonderful the town smelled. You sound like me, biking or walking, when I was at Yellowstone. We had to stop the car every couple of minutes to take more pictures of moose and buffalo. LOL

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 9, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      I would be stopping all the time too if there were moose and buffalo roaming around!

  • Reply Melissa Rogers August 9, 2016 at 7:40 am

    What a beautiful location! I can only imagine how amazing the town smelled (and your clothes after!). Thank you for sharing such great insight on Provence in the summer 🙂

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 9, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Thanks for the comment Melissa, I’m glad you liked the post 🙂

  • Reply Renato Alves August 9, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    These pictures look amazing. Thats must a be a fun trip. Thanks for sharing.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 9, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Thanks Renato!

  • Reply Lara Dunning August 9, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    I love lavender fields too. We have them on the islands nearby. I’d love to see them in France too.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura August 9, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      They’re so beautiful (and smell so good!)

  • Reply Anja Ben October 26, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Oh Laura, this looks like a fairy tale! I can completely relate to choosing to go there when the lavender fields are in bloom, I chose to go to Japan at the end of March not to miss that amazing cherry blossoms. And I can only imagine the scent! Thanks for the tip about Stu! 🙂

    Anja

    • Laura
      Reply Laura November 14, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks Anja! I am so jealous of your Japan trip, I would love to go there and see all the cherry blossom. It’s also meant to be beautiful in the autumn I think – I do love a bit of fall foliage!

  • Reply Bharat & Supriya February 12, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks a lot for the suggestions here Laura. We’re headed to Provence in July and definitely taking notes from this blog 🙂

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