Summer is the most iconic season for Provence. It’s the time when nature offers its best products. We love to travel around this region, listening to the sound of cicadas and eating some of the delicious products we could find here. But the main protagonist, the reason for coming here over the last week of June and the first week of July, is the lavender fields💜.
Imagine plains and hills neatly covered by regular rows of purple flowers, as far as you can see. Purple becomes blue, turns pink, gets shades of red according to the exposition of the field and the time of the day. It’s one of the most incredible and romantic landscapes in the world. And just when we thought we admired enough of it, a sunflower field or a grain field appeared on the horizon.
Finding the crops is not that difficult, but it needs some care. The first requirement is to have a car. It’s impossible to reach the fields without a private vehicle as they are usually outside the villages. Second, study the map. We worked hard to design a suitable scenario, but it’s easy to get lost among the different roads. Look up for the best itinerary before starting, set the destination on the navigator, and have your camera ready!
When to go there? The harvest takes place (usually) in the first two weeks of July. The flowers are blossoming for a small amount of time, hence coming here too early will not let you have those gorgeous purple colors. We do suggest to visit the region between 29th June and 3rd of July to maximize the chances of photos!
A note about lavender
There are two kinds of lavender in this area. Fine lavender is the rarest and most renowned plant. Its size is small, they produce one flower per plant, and the color it’s a gorgeous dark purple. This particular species can only be found in Provence, and specifically in the northern part of the region, around Sault, at a relatively high altitude.
The second type is called Lavandin, or hybrid lavender. This genre is less precious but much easier to grow. It’s also bigger, with three flowers per plant, of a lighter pink tone. It grows everywhere (it’s the lavender you can also find in other parts of Europe and Canada).
Lavender is used since ancient time in the preparation of creams and perfumes. Most of the products we can find in supermarkets are prepared with Lavandin, while luxury industry uses the rare fine lavender for its productions.
Our delicious itinerary starts from Avignon, cross the Luberon National Park and arrives in Verdon National Park. It can be done in one or two days, according to the pace and of course the time spent in taking the best pictures of the flowers!
Starting point: Avignon
Delicious tip: leave the car outside the medieval walls. There is little parking available inside the city center, and the roads are tiny. The city itself is small, and you will have no issues in walking around.
Near Avignon, and at the border of the Luberon National Park, there is the Lavender Museum. The museum opens at 9:00 AM. Inside you will find some insights about the lavender industry and how to extract the essential oil from the flowers. Do not miss the initial explanation about the two different types of lavender provided by the clerks at the counter. At the small shop, you will be able to buy essential oil, creams, and potpourris of fine lavender (it’s the only place where we could find fine lavender for sale).
From the Lavender Museum, head north to Gordes. On the road, you can stop to take a couple of pictures of this gorgeous medieval village. The view is breathtaking, as the village sits on top of the hill, with the valley opening on its right. There are some parking spots near the viewpoint.
If you like, you can take a quick visit to the village. We do not suggest to eat here though, as the restaurants in the village are overcrowded with tourists (and its quality is lower than other places nearby).
Abbaye de Sénanque
Finally, we are ready to head into the lavender paradise. Abbaye de Senanque is one of the most photographed locations in the region. The abbey, built in the 12th century, offers a beautiful contrast with the green vegetation of the valley and its iconic lavender field in front of it. You can’t walk among the fields, but that offers the possibility to take great pictures of the building and the crops. We suggest a visit to the abbey, but you have to make plans for it.
The monks allow unguided tours only from 9:45 AM to 11 AM. Otherwise, you’ll have to join one of their guided tours, in French (check out their website for the timetable). Still, if you never visited a medieval abbey before, this is a fantastic opportunity to do so.
From the abbey, keep heading north to reach Sault. This small village, surrounded by lavender fields, is one of the few places where you can find fine lavender fields. Stop on the roads for taking amazing pictures, the fields around Sault are among the best you will ever see in the region! The color of the lavender is dark purple, with the Mont Ventoux as a background. Amazing!
From Sault, take the D942 to reach the border between Vaucluse and Drome department. There you will find some of the best fine lavender fields in the region. Head back to Sault and then take the D30 to Saint Christol, with other beautiful crops on both sides. Finally, follow the D5 to Manosque.
One of the most famous villages for lavender, Valensole is the place where you can find the tallest crops. However, the only possible cultivation here is the lavandin, with less intense colors. A fantastic feature of this place is the possibility to get gorgeous shots of lavender and sunflower fields, one next to each other. Seriously, you have lavender and you have the sunflowers, everything set in the incredible sun of Provence. It can’t get better than that.
The D6 is the road you want to travel along for getting the best pictures! In particular, before arriving in Valensole village, next to Lavender Angelvin, there is one of the most popular fields, with a hill entirely covered by the crops. Do not miss it!
Arriving Point: Lac de Sainte-Croix
Following the D6, the lavender fields become rarer while we enter in the Verdon National Park. Our last stop is the Lac de Sainte-Croix, in front of the Gorges du Verdon. There are several amazing photo opportunities of the lake from the road. Our final point, the Pont du Galetas, offers a breathtaking view of the Verdon canyon.
From the Pont du Galet, we moved in the direction of Théoule-sur-Mer. It was time for some beach and some amazing seaside views, and there is nothing better than starting our exploration of the French Riviera from the Corniche d’Or!
Check out our journey through French Riviera, and find out the best beaches of the Cote d’Azur!
Did you try our itinerary? Any other suggestive fields you would like to add to our map?