Lavender Fields of Provence
Late June through July is the best season for lavender in Provence. This field is in front of the Senanque Abbey near Gordes, the last week of June.
Map of lavender regions - The lavender fields of Provence cover several distinct regions (pays):
Drôme - Diois - Buech lavender map the northern-most lavender area, east of Montélimar.
Sault - Apt lavender map Lavender areas Pays de Sault (near Mont Ventoux) and Pays de Apt.
Valensole lavender map the southeastern lavender areas including the Valensole plateau, Pays de Forcalquier and Pays de Digne.
Lavender fields bloom from mid June to mid August, depending on the area and the seasonal weather. Best is from the last week in June through July. Lavender is harvested from July to September.
In the Luberon and the Rhone Valley lavender begins to bloom mid June. The Valensole plateau and Drome Provencal begins around the beginning of July. The area of Sault begins blooming mid July.
Wheat fields and lavender fields are found in the same areas, and often side-by-side. The wheat ripens just before the lavender season, so lavender fields are often bordered by golden bands of grain, backlighted by the sun.
We've also found sunflower fields in the lavender areas, a couple of times just beside the lavender. End June is too early for the sunflowers, but July-August should bring some stunning views to the sunflowers and lavender together.
By Car or Bus
Visiting lavender fields works best if you have a car, so our advice is to rent a car if you can.
Public-transport trips can work, but we don't have details. In Avignon you can take 1-day bus tours. There will probably be bus tours for lavender fields, or tours to Gordes or Apt or Sault. The bus-tour companies are clearly visible when you walk from the station into Avigion, or ask at the Office de Tourisme.
A normal, public bus trip between these towns could be a method for seeing the lavender fields along the way.
Bus Carpentras - Sault
- Route: Carpentras, Mazan, Mormoiron, Villes-sur-Auzon, Monieux, Sault.
- Cars Comtadins; tel 0490 672 025
Bus Apt - Sault
- Route: Apt, Villars, Saint Saturnin-lès-Apt, Petits-Cléments, Grand-Cléments, Rustrel, Saint Christol, Sault.
For details, contact the Gare Routière Avignon (tel 0490 820 735) or the Office de Tourisme in Sault, Apt or Carpentras.
The Plateau de Valensole has a lot of lavender fields in a fairly small area. To visit some great lavender fields here, take this 33-km loop drive: Valensole D56 east to Puimoisson; D953 north to the "Poteau de Telle" junction; the D8 west back to Valensole.
On the D8 between Valensole and the D953 junction (4 km north of Puimoisson) has lavender fields. At the "Poteau de Telle" junction (D8/D953) are massive lavender fields [43.896292 N, 6.128771 E].
On the D6 between Valensole and Riez, about 5 km southeast of Valensole, there are nice lavender fields near the entrance to the Petit Arlane (Centre Naturiste).
Sault and Mont Ventoux
The area of Mont Ventoux, including the town of Sault, northeast of Avignon and Carpentras, has lovely lavender fields.
Due east of Avignon, there are some lavender fields in the area around Gordes, Apt and Saignon. Some of these fields also contain the picturesque stone Bories.
It's only a single field, but the famous lavender field north of Gordes has the 12th-century Senanque Abbey as a backdrop.
Lavender from the Cote d'Azur
From the Cote d'Azur (Nice-Cannes area), the nearest lavender fields are at the Pays de Valensole. The drive up to Castellane is about 1h30. From Castellane, it's 45 km west across the Gorges de Verdon to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, at the northern end of the Lac de Sainte Croix. This takes about an hour with the summer traffic, but you should allow some time to stop and enjoy the view as well. From Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the road west climbs up to the Valensole plateau and directly into the lavender fields. The total journey (one-way) would be about 2-1/2 hours, excluding stopping to look around.
An alternate route would be west on the autoroute to Brignoles (exit 35, about 1 hr), and then north via Barjols, Tavernes, Montmayan, Quinson and Riez (65 km, another hour).
To have a look as fields of wild lavender, drive up to the Plateau de Calern north of Grasse (about 1 hour to 1h30 from Nice). Amidst the rocky terrain and fields of other wildflowers, the hillsides to the east of the telescopes are covered thickly with wild lavender.
We were warned near Apt (Saignon Bories) by a passing motorist to watch out for vipers in the lavender fields. In St Saturnin-les-Apt hotel-resto it was explained to us that vipers do in fact nestle in (and even nest) in the shade beneath the lavender plants; manual picker ladies used to chop through them inadvertently while harvesting the lavender. In our extensive wandering through the fields we've not seen any, but we're being especially careful now.
Festivals and Corsos de Lavande
- July 14 Apt - Fête de la lavande
- July 2nd-half Riez - Fête de la lavande
- July 2nd-half Valensole - Fête de la lavande
- Aug 1st weekend Valrés - Corso de la lavande, with floats, folkloriqe, etc.
- Aug beginning Digne-les-Bains - Corso de la lavande
- Aug mid Esparron-sur-Verdon - Fête de la lavande
- Aug mid Riez - Journée du miel et de la lavande (honey and lavender)
- Aug mid Sault - Fête de la lavande, with floats, folkloriqe, etc.