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Just as the famous tulip fields of The Netherlands draw swarms of tourists in the spring so do the breathtaking lavender fields, interspersed with towering sunflowers, beckon visitors with their vibrant hues and intoxicating scents to Provence in the South of France every summer. As the bluish-purple lavender blankets the countryside, the picturesque villages of Provence transform into even more idyllic landscapes. 

Seeing these swaying lavender fields, often adjacent to the cheerful faces of dancing sunflowers, feels like stepping into an impressionist painting, capturing an undeniably photogenic, or should I say Instagrammable, scene.

Feel free to pin and use this as a guide if you’re looking to make a visit to the region during this time.

Please PIN AND SHARE this postDreaming of travel to Provence for the lavender fields? Here’s a guide on visiting Valensole in France during lavender season. Visit Provence | Provence | Lavender | France | sunflowers | Travel Planning | Europe Travel | France Itinerary | Mediterranean | Cote d’Azur |

A Brief History of Lavender

Lavender, native to the Mediterranean and a member of the mint family, has a storied past. The word lavender is derived from the Latin word lavare, meaning “to wash,” reflecting its ancient use in public baths for both its aromatic and medicinal properties. Today, lavender continues to be valued for its scent and therapeutic benefits. It’s a key ingredient in soaps, cosmetics, and even insect repellants—though bees are irresistibly drawn to it. Lavender’s versatility and enduring appeal make it a staple in both historical and modern contexts.

Where to Experience Lavender and Sunflower Fields

Provence’s lavender fields are spread across several areas, with Plateau de Sault and Plateau de Valensole being among the most popular. During my visit, I opted for Plateau de Valensole because it was only a 1.5 to 2-hour drive from Nice Airport, where I had flown in. The abundance of lavender fields in Valensole means you’re guaranteed to find a spot to explore. Additionally, sunflowers and poppies add splashes of color to the landscape.

The charming town of Valensole in Provence, France

The little village of Valensole is adorable. Filled with charming provençal touches, like lots of stone-paved streets and buildings, Valensole will fulfill all your romantic notions of Provence in the summer. I stayed in Valensole for a couple of nights in a B&B and took a day trip to Aix-en-Provence where my lavender craving was further fed as I  wandered through market stalls selling perfumes and essential oils, and visited distilleries with boutiques offering lavender-based products.

The charming town of Valensole, filled with typical provençal touches, is adorable.

Best Time to Visit

Lavender typically blooms from late June to early August, with the first or second week of July being the optimal time to witness the fields in full bloom. To avoid crowds and heat, it’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the evening, taking advantage of the extended daylight hours for photography.

The charming town of Valensole in Provence, France.

fields of swaying lavender side-by-side with dancing sunflowers

As the lavender harvest begins later in the season, Provence celebrates with numerous festivals (fêtes) and parades. These events feature colorful floats and showcase a variety of lavender products, including honey, essential oils, soaps, and dried lavender bouquets.

A picture perfect moment in the beautiful lavender fields of Provence.

Other Attractions and Activities

Beyond the lavender fields, Provence offers a wealth of attractions and activities. Visiting lavender farms and distilleries provides an opportunity to learn about the cultivation and production of lavender products. The Lavender Museum in the Luberon area highlights the plant’s history in Provence, offering a wonderful educational experience.

The Mediterranean climate of southern France is also ideal for growing olive trees and producing rosé wine. In fact, over half of the rosé wine in France comes from Provence, making the region the world’s largest exporter of this pink-hued beverage. Wine tours and tastings are a delightful way to explore Provence’s vinicultural heritage.

Discover the beauty of Provence, with its stunning lavender fields and sunflowers, and get tips on the best times to visit, where to stay, and what to do. Photo credit: Monique White Visit Provence | Provence | Lavender | France | sunflowers | Travel Planning | Europe Travel | France Itinerary | Mediterranean | Cote d’Azur |

Planning Your Visit

For those planning a trip to the South of France and its enchanting lavender fields, resources like the map produced by Provence Tourism can be invaluable in organizing your route and ensuring you don’t miss any of the region’s highlights.

Traveling to Provence

Reaching Provence is quite convenient, whether you’re traveling from within France or internationally. Here are some of the most common ways to get to this beautiful region:

By Air:

  • Marseille Provence Airport (MRS): The largest airport in the region, Marseille Provence Airport, is well-connected to major European cities. It’s a good starting point for exploring Provence.
  • Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE): Another major airport, located in Nice, offers numerous international flights and is especially convenient if you plan to visit the lavender fields in Valensole.

By Train:

  • TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse): High-speed trains connect Provence to Paris and other major French cities. You can take the TGV from Paris to Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, or Marseille, with the journey from Paris to Avignon taking about 2.5 hours.
  • Local Trains: Once in Provence, regional trains and TER (Transport Express Régional) services can take you to smaller towns and villages.

By Car:

  • Driving: Renting a car is a popular option for exploring Provence at your own pace. The region is well-served by highways and scenic routes. From Paris, the drive to Avignon takes about 7 hours, while from Nice to Valensole, it’s around 1.5 to 2 hours.

 

Please PIN AND SHARE this postDiscover the beauty of Provence, with its stunning lavender fields and sunflowers, and get tips on the best times to visit, where to stay, and what to do. Photo credit: Monique White Visit Provence | Provence | Lavender | France | sunflowers | Travel Planning | Europe Travel | France Itinerary | Mediterranean | Cote d’Azur |

Where to Stay in Provence

Provence offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various tastes and budgets. Here are some recommendations:

Luxury Stays:

  • La Bastide de Gordes: Located in the picturesque village of Gordes, this luxury hotel offers stunning views, elegant rooms, and a spa.
  • Villa Gallici: Situated in Aix-en-Provence, this five-star hotel is known for its beautiful gardens, luxurious decor, and exceptional service.

Mid-Range Options:

  • Hotel Le Pigonnet: This charming hotel in Aix-en-Provence combines classic Provençal style with modern amenities, offering comfortable rooms and a lovely garden.
  • Le Clos de la Glycine: Located in Roussillon, this mid-range hotel provides cozy rooms with beautiful views of the ochre cliffs and the surrounding countryside.

Budget-Friendly Accommodations:

  • Ibis Budget Avignon Centre: A practical and affordable option in Avignon, this hotel offers basic amenities and a convenient location near the city center.
  • B&B Hotels: With locations in major towns like Marseille, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence, B&B Hotels offer budget-friendly accommodations with comfortable rooms and essential amenities.

Unique Stays:

  • Chambres d’hôtes: For a more personal and local experience, consider staying in a bed and breakfast (chambre d’hôtes). Options like La Maison du Puits in Valensole offer a charming, homey atmosphere and the chance to interact with local hosts.
  • Gîtes: These self-catering holiday homes are perfect for those who prefer more independence. Gîtes can range from rustic cottages to modern villas and are available throughout Provence.

Tips for Booking:

  • Peak Season: Summer is the peak tourist season in Provence, so it’s advisable to book your accommodations well in advance, especially if you plan to visit during the lavender bloom in July.
  • Proximity: Consider the proximity of your accommodation to the attractions you wish to visit. Staying in or near smaller villages like Valensole or Gordes can provide a more authentic Provençal experience, while larger towns like Avignon and Aix-en-Provence offer more amenities and easier access to transportation.

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Discover the beauty of Provence, with its stunning lavender fields and sunflowers, and get tips on the best times to visit, where to stay, and what to do. Photo credit: Monique White Visit Provence | Provence | Lavender | France | sunflowers | Travel Planning | Europe Travel | France Itinerary | Mediterranean | Cote d’Azur |

 

 

Updated Spring 2024