When visiting southern France in summer, you can’t miss the Provence region. One of the main attractions of Provence are the gorgeous lavender fields that can be found all throughout the region. Lavender is derived from the Latin word “lavare”, which translates to: to clean or to wash. Lavender has been popular for thousands of years. The Romans, for example, used lavender in bathing water, in perfumes and as floral ornaments in hair. The beautiful flowers are also referred to as “the blue gold” and we can absolutely see why. Driving around Provence and witnessing these purple fields has been a dream come true. In this blog post we’re sharing where you can find the best lavender fields in Provence and when it’s the best time to visit them.
Lavender in Provence
There are two types of lavender to be found in Provence: fine lavender and lavandin. You can distinguish fine lavender by its lighter color and one stem of flowers. Fine lavender is often used in perfumes and medicine. Fine lavender is typically found in Provence and can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Lavandin has a deeper color and has three stems of flowers. Lavandin is more photogenic than fine lavender, but it’s used less in lavender products. Lavandin is used in cleaning products and is put into the small lavender bags that are sold in souvenir shops all around Provence.
You will find the most beautiful fields in the Valensole Plateau near the village of Valensole. The type of lavender that’s growing here is lavandin, the photogenic type. Besides lavender fields, you can also find sunflower fields and wheat fields often close to each other. Combining different kinds of fields make for a beautiful photo. Because the Valensole Plateau is located at a lower altitude (-600 meters) the fields here are the first to bloom. When we visited in the second week of July, most of the fields were deep purple but some were already cut.
When you’re driving through the Valensole Plateau, you’ll stumble upon many lavender fields. Not all of the fields are accessible though. The following fields were our favorite finds.
The best lavender fields in the Valensole Plateau
By far the most beautiful lavender fields in the Valensole Plateau are the fields at Lavandes Angelvin. These are also the most popular so be prepared for crowds. To avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit during sunrise. When we arrived at 8:30 in the morning, the fields were already pretty busy but we were able to mostly frame the other people out of our photos. Even though sunset is also a very crowded time of the day, it’s so worth it being there at sunset. The sun sets at exactly the right place to get a backdrop of beautiful skies against the purple fields.
The D8 road between Valensole and Puimoisson
D8 is a regional road in the Valensole Plateau. When driving on this road between Valensole and Puimoisson, you’ll drive past multiple accessible lavender fields. We loved this field with the mountains in the background. There was also a wheat field next to the lavender field. Isn’t the contrast of the purple and yellow beautiful?
While driving into the direction of Valensole, we drove past a beautiful sunflower field. Couldn’t resist snapping a photo here as well!
In the Luberon Valley, you will mostly find the lavandin type of lavender. At an altitude of 350-700 meters, the lavender fields in this area will bloom around the beginning of July. When driving around the Luberon Valley, you will not only be greeted by lavender fields but also by beautiful hill-top villages. A stunning hill-top village in the Luberon Valley that is absolutely worth visiting is Gordes. Roussillon, known for its orange ochre landscapes, is another one. The Musée de la Lavande (Lavender Museum) is also located in Luberon.
The best lavender fields in the Luberon Valley
The most famous lavender fields in the Luberon Valley are the fields at the Sénanque Abbey. This is actually a world-famous view and you will recognize it from all the books about Provence. It definitely lives up to its fame. When in full bloom, the view of the lavender field in front of the Sénanque Abbey is absolutely stunning. When you want to visit Sénanque Abbey just for taking photos, we can recommend going there right before sunset. Even though we were traveling in peak season, we had the whole place to ourselves at sunset. You might also beat the crowds when visiting early in the morning. During the day, Sénanque Abbey is open to visitors. This is not so great for photos, but perfect if you want to pay a visit to the Abbey.
Please note that it’s prohibited to enter the lavender field in front of Sénanque Abbey. Respect the rules, even if you (think) you’re the only one there. The Abbey is inhabited by monks.
You are allowed to enter the small field in front of the wall (but it’s less photogenic than the field behind the wall).
During specific hours, the Abbey is open to the public. You can only visit the abbey through a guided tour that lasts one hour. The guide will show you the ancient dormitory, the cloister, the warming room and the chapter house. The Abbey was closed when we got there, but it looks very beautiful so next time we will definitely do the tour!
Mondays to Saturdays: 10:30, 13:30, 15:00, 16:30
Sundays: 13:45, 15:00, 16:30
It’s recommended to buy tickets online, which you can do on this website.
Pays de Sault
The type of lavender growing in Pays de Sault is fine lavender. This area of Provence is less touristy than Valensole. Because Pays de Sault is located at a higher altitude (800-900 meters) the lavender blooms in July and is in full bloom around Mid-July. Sault, Aurel and Ferrasières are picturesque villages close to the lavender fields in Pays de Sault. We didn’t visit this area, as we were short on time.
Best time to visit Provence to see the lavender fields
In general, the lavender fields are blooming from Mid-June until the end of July. However, it depends on the weather conditions when the lavender fields exactly will bloom. If it’s been a cold winter, the lavender blooms a little later. If you’re visiting between the beginning of July and Mid-July, you’ll have the best chances of seeing bright purple fields of lavender in all lavender areas of Provence. There are some areas located at higher altitudes that still have a few blooming fields left in the beginning of August, but you have to be lucky. There’s no point in visiting Provence in May, September or October (or winter and early spring for that matter) if you want to see the lavender fields. The towns and villages in Provence are just as picturesque all year round, so if you can’t visit during the summer months there’s still plenty to explore.
As the three lavender areas in Provence are located at a different altitude, the lavender blooms at different times. The lavender fields in the Valensole Plateau are the first to bloom, most of the time from Mid-June. The peak bloom is mostly in the last week of June or the first week of July, this is when the color of the flowers is deep purple. The lavender fields in the Luberon Valley are the second to bloom, starting from the beginning of July. The fields here are at peak bloom around Mid-July. The lavender fields in Pays de Sault are the last to bloom, starting from Mid-July. At the end of July, the fields in Pays de Sault are mostly in peak bloom. Timing is very important if you want to see the lavender fields in their peak bloom.
We visited Provence in the second week of July (from 11th until 18th) in 2020 and, luckily for us, the lavender fields in the Valensole Plateau were all deep purple. There were some fields that were already cut, but that was the exception rather than the rule. At the end of our week, the lavender fields in the Luberon Valley were just at their peak bloom. We saw photos on Instagram from a week earlier and the purple color of the lavender at Sénanque Abbey was still very light. If you’re having trouble finding blooming lavender fields during your stay in Provence, you can always ask local tourist offices where you can find blooming fields nearby. Perks of visiting Provence in July is that the sunflower fields are also in full bloom. If you visit in June, it might be too early for blooming sunflowers.
We should mention that there are lots of bees flying around in the lavender fields as they love the flowers. Bees are less active when the sun is rising and setting so if you’re scared of bees or allergic to them, you might want to skip the fields during the day. We didn’t mind the bees. We just did our thing and the bees did theirs and it was all fine.
Best places to stay in Provence to see the lavender fields
We chose to stay in Aix-en-Provence as it was the most central location for the places we wanted to visit. We didn’t only want to see the lavender fields, but also some places along the coast. From Aix-en-Provence it’s about a 1-hour drive to the Valensole Plateau, around a 1-hour and 15-minute drive to the Luberon Valley and around a 45-minute drive to the coast. Pays de Sault is around a 1-hour and 45-minute drive from Aix-en-Provence and was a little too far for our taste as we were limited on time. If you have enough time you could of course do the drive, but you can also consider staying a bit more up north. We think that Aix-en-Provence is the perfect place to stay if you want to see the lavender fields in the Valensole Plateau and the Luberon Valley as well as visiting the coast. Besides that, Aix-en-Provence is also a very lively city. It’s a nice city to come back to after a day of exploring. The shops are still open in the evening and there are many restaurants to choose from for some dinner. Aix-en-Provence is connected to the high-speed railway with direct trains running to and from Paris.
Avignon is located quite close to the Luberon Valley and Pays de Sault, both places are around a 1-hour drive. Plateau de Valensole is a little bit further away though and will take around 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there. Advantages of staying in Avignon is that the city has its own airport and is connected to the high-speed railway with direct trains running to and from paris. We haven’t been to Avignon ourselves, but the historical city center is on the UNESCO World Heritage List so it might be beautiful to wander around Avignon as well.
Manosque looks like the most central location to stay if you want to visit the lavender fields in the Valensole Plateau, the Luberon Valley and Pays de Sault. From Manosque it’s around a half an hour drive to the Valensole Plateau, a 1-hour drive to the Luberon Valley and a little over a 1-hour drive to Pays de Sault. Unfortunately, we haven’t visited Manosque so we don’t know if it’s a nice village to stay in. If you don’t want to drive long distances, consider staying in multiple places in Provence. From our experience, the villages of Roussillon, Lourmarin and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie looked like nice places to stay in.
How to get to the lavender fields Provence
Provence is located in the southwestern part of France. The airport of Avignon is the closest to the lavender fields. Other airports in Provence are Marseille and Nice. It’s also possible to get to Provence by train. Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille are all connected to the high-speed railway. High-speed trains (TGV) between Paris and Provence run every hour and the trip takes between 3 and 3.5 hours, depending on where you get off the train. If you’re living not too far away from France, you can also consider driving all the way to Provence, which is what we did.
If you’re not driving your own car to Provence, we would absolutely recommend renting a car once you’re there. Public transport runs between the cities and villages of Provence, but it won’t get you to the lavender fields. Therefore, having a car is absolutely a must. Having a car also allows you to be completely independent in where and when you want to visit certain places, which is something we love.
Lavender fields tour
If you don’t want to or can’t drive a car around Provence but still want to see the lavender fields, consider doing a tour to the fields. This way you will still be able to see the blue gold and might learn some interesting facts about lavender as well. Click here for an overview of available tours.
Are the lavender fields in Provence on your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!
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