Valensole is a must-see stop if you want to observe the lavender bloom in Provence. During our many trips to the south of France, Ornella and I have almost every time stopped at this magical place. The heady scent, the purple color that fills the eyes, the song of cicadas and the deafening sound of millions of bees, but above all, so much heat.
Don’t forget to take some water with you because the area is isolated and essential services can only be found in the village of Valensole and passing Riez before reaching the cultivated areas.
Poering water with you is very useful in Provence because many areas of natural interest are in the middle of the countryside or otherwise in isolated areas.
Even on the previous stage of this tour, The Provençal Colorado from Roussillon to Rustrel, it would have been difficult without our water bottles
The first time we were on the Valensole plateau we never expected such a scene, lavender fields as far as the eye could see, one of those places where admiring the horizon can even move you.
The first impact was not positive: going up the winding road from Riez to the Valensole plateau, we stopped several times in front of small plots of land cultivated with lavender. Taking the ritual photos I was thinking to myself: is that all? I was trying to “sugarcoat” it for Ornella since I had wanted to come here at all costs by winding country roads by choosing this place instead of visiting Ague Mortes in Camargue, but especially after having already seen the spectacular and the lavander cultivated by the monks surrounding it.
The same lavender fields in Tuscany told by Simona of destinazione toscana that my friend Timothy cultivates in the village of Massarosa where I live.
We got back in the car with a bit of disappointment and kept getting in unaware of what we would find. As soon as the climb was over I couldn’t help but stop the car in the middle of the road because I was slapped like a slap by what was in front of us.
Long rows of lavender as far as the eye can see, precise, round, interspersed with small strips of barren, stony earth. Purple hills where every now and then an isolated tree appeared, a small building, in short the paradise of travel photographers.
The thing I remember most was the scent of lavender wafting through the air, intense and delicate that combined with that magnificent purple sea really intoxicated us by triggering the “kiss between the rows.”
The Valensole Plateau
The Valensole Plateau or Plateau de Valensole is located in the south of the Alpes de Haute Provence department at 500 meters above sea level. With an area of 800 km², it is recognized worldwide for Lavender and Lavender production.
In fact, lavender produced in Valensole meets about 80 percent of the world’s demand for this fragrant flower.
This area confirms Provence as one of the most romantic places in the world, and those who appreciate Provençal landscapes cannot help but visit the Valensole plateau in July, when the lavender bloom is at its peak.
It seems that everything house, flowers, trees, mountains, is placed with a predetermined order to enhance the visitor’s senses, and excitement is guaranteed.
Lavender flowering Provence
When does lavender bloom? Lavender flowering occurs throughout the summer period, starting in June and continuing through August. In Valensole France, as in every other region where this aromatic plant is grown, its peak period is at the end of June. There are varieties that bloom a little earlier and others later, but if you go to Valensole Provence in early July the show is assured.
Another of the places to observe the same magnificent composition of lavender fields can be found by visiting Gordes and Senanque Abbey: a picturesque 11th-century gray stone abbey, also surrounded by lavender.
How to get to Valensole
To get to the lavender area, we left the city of Aix en Provence via the A51 towards Manosque. We exited at Sain Paul lez Durance by taking D952, the same road that leads to the Verdon gorges. Arriving at the village of Riez, there is a detour leading to the top of the plateau.
Lavender in Provence
To see lavender in bloom this area should be visited between late June and early August, when the harvest turns the purple sea into rows of tiny green hemispheres!
French lavender grown in Provence meets about 80 percent of the world’s demand for the production of all products derived from its flowers.
There are two types of lavender that are grown here: lavender and Lavender: the former is mainly used to produce essences for use mainly in perfumery and cosmetics in another important area of Provence, in Grasse.
Instead, the Sink is used to make traditional soap.
After our stop in the lavender fields, along the way we stopped at one of the many stores selling typical products derived from the cultivation of this plant with its officinal characteristics… and of course we bought some of the products without which, at that moment, it seemed we could not live.
Another special product is made from Lavender, which can be guessed from the only background noise we heard during our visit: the constant buzzing of millions of bees.
The lavender honey
Stopping at one of the little stores along the road back to Valensole, we had a chance to taste lavender honey,a specialty of Provence and more particularly of the plateau. With a beige color and creamy, subtle and delicate taste, it is harvested from the end of July. A fragrant and intense fragrance, the taste is reminiscent of fig fruit in addition to lavender.
The lady who sold it to us listed the large number of therapeutic qualities this honey possesses, but I am always a little skeptical about it.
The skill of the French in protecting their products-unlike us Italians-protect lavender honey with no less than two quality labels: the Protected Geographical Indication (IGP) “Miel de Provence” (Provence Honey) and the Label Rouge label.
Lavender Festival in Provence
During the months of July and August, there are many events dedicated to the lavander, markets, fairs, and then, festivals in honor of the purple plant: In Valensole there is a festival of the lavander in the second weekend of July, in Valensole; the event is very much felt by the locals who organize very beautiful events wearing traditional Provençal clothes. Lavender is celebrated throughout the area, concluding the festivities with a lavender parade and lavender fair in August, in Digne-les-Bains.