Close your eyes for a while and take a deep breath. You are in front of a stunning purple sea of lavender and rolling hills. Let the smell of this strong-scented plant from the Mediterranean indulge your senses. Maybe this will take you back to your childhood, when mum opened her closet, or on a carefree trip to the South of France. The purple meadows of Provence are a spectacle that does not need any words – you just have to experience it, how it captures your gaze for hours.
There are many beautiful places to explore the lavender meadows in Provence and their alluring Provençal charm. Here we focus on three main areas: The Valensole Plateau, Sault Plateau, and the Luberon Valley. Open your car window and get ready for many stops on your way.
Plateau de Valensole
At the Plateau de Valensole in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, about an hour north of Aix-en-Provence, you will discover dozens of lavender meadows covering more than 800km² unfolding in front of you. It’s one of the most photogenic in Provence, because due to the low altitude, the type of lavender grown here is lavandin, which is the most beautiful.
A few years ago, these lavender fields earned even more attention thanks to a Chinese TV show and of course, some Instagrammers. Now, tourist buses from all over the world flock to Valensole to enjoy the spectacle. With 300 days of sunshine a year, Valensole honours its name, which comes from the Latin Vallis and Solis meaning “the valley of the sun”. Next to the lavender fields, there are sunflowers and wheat. Drive along the Route de Manosque, which is full of lavender fields to explore at your pace.
Tips: The Lavandes Angelvin, a lavender farm with a beautiful shop in the farmhouse selling soaps and other lavender products, is located on the Route de Manosque. A speciality of Provence and specifically of the Valensole plateau is the lavender honey, known for its delicate and creamy taste.
In a place where time seems to have stopped for centuries, a purple veil stretches over the streets and picturesque villages in this area, as well as the famous Sénanque Abbey, built in the 12th century by monks. The Luberon Valley looks like an Impressionist painting, where the red oily hills meet a lush landscape of vineyards and fiery red gorges in a dark green forest. Lavender meadows are located at an altitude of about 350-700 metres, while the valley is home to some of the most beautiful villages in Provence.
Tip: Enjoy the view of the lavender meadows surrounding Sénanque Abbey from the top of the street in Gordes.
The Sault Plateau is the capital of lavender and your opportunity to enjoy the lavender meadows without crowds. Surrounded by picturesque villages such as Sault, Aurel and Ferrassières, many fields contain some traditional stone houses that look enchanting in the violet seas. The Sault Plateau is located at a higher altitude (800-900 m) and during summertime the cool wind makes the lavender dance.
Tip: If you go during August, visit the Lavender Festival (Fête de la Lavande) which has taken place every year since 1985 on 15 August in the village of Sault, with various activities. One of the highlights of the festival is the ability to choose (for free) your own lavender either to make a small bouquet or even to fill several bags.
How to get to Provence’s lavender fields
The nearest airport is in Marseille. The most beautiful lavender meadows are located around the Valensole Plateau, about 1 hour drive from Marseille. Another option is Nice, a distance of about 2.5 hours to reach Valensole.
Car rental is a must. The fields and villages are very far from each other, with routes lasting from 10 minutes to 1 hour by car, so walking is not an option.
When is the best time to see the lavender fields in France?
The best time to see the lavender meadows is between mid-June and early August – then the blooming lavender is really impressive.
Where to eat in Provence when visiting the lavender fields
Les Lavandes restaurant in Monieux serves regular lavender dishes. Try the ‘parfait à la lavande’, a real delicacy!
In Venelles, you could also try the very Provençal style restaurant Le Môme.
Don’t miss the picturesque restaurant Le Petit Café with its colourful garden in Oppède-le-Vieux.
Polina Paraskevopoulou is a travel journalist and a blogger at La Vie en Blog.